In the East Village this past Thursday, an animated crowd of artists, musicians, and influencers waited on Bowery to attend the opening of Amanita, Caio Twombly, Jacob Hyman, and Tommaso Rositani’s second art gallery. The location, 313 Bowery, has a historic past: In the 1970s, it was CBGB, a rock club where Patti Smith and Blondie performed and Jean-Michel Basquiat sat in the audience. Today, it hosts a solo show by Leonardo Meoni, a young Italian artist who manipulates the hairs on massive velvet canvases to create figurative designs.
Art has always been a fixture in the 26-year-old Twombly’s life. His grandfather was Cy Twombly, the revered 20th-century painter known for large-scale, gestural works that inspired Anselm Kiefer, Julian Schnabel, and Francesco Clemente. His father, Alessandro, is a sculptor. But growing up in Rome, Twombly never thought of himself as artistic.
His grandfather “always worked with my sister, Maia,” he says on the phone, from his family home in Rome. “I remember visiting his studio once and seeing Maia’s little Post-It notes of drawings she had done next to his huge canvases.”
He didn’t focus on art until 2014, after he finished boarding school in Switzerland and moved to London. There, he became friends with the young artists Kai and Adrian Schachter, who are sons of Kenny Schachter, a renowned art dealer, curator, and writer. “There wasn’t anything else to talk about with them,” he explains. “It was just always about art.”
A year after Twombly moved to London, when he was just 18, he organized his first show, displaying Kai’s large, free-form abstract canvases and Adrian’s figurative, more detailed paintings. The venue was his apartment, an old soup kitchen in East London. “It sold out,” Twombly explains.
That first success—and a girl—prompted him to move to New York City in 2016 to study art. He enrolled in an art-history-and-philosophy course at Marymount College, under the tutelage of Dr. Jason Rosenfeld, and between classes, he would go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to look at ancient artifacts. Eventually, he moved into an apartment with the Schachters and the trio organized pop-up shows around downtown Manhattan. (Kai died in 2019.)
Once Twombly was ready to open a permanent space, he moved back to Italy and teamed up with Tommaso Rositani, a friend and also a young entrepreneur. (Rositani recently reproduced furniture from Casa Malaparte, his Capri house—and the setting of Jean-Luc Godard’s film Contempt—for a show at Gagosian’s Upper East Side gallery.) They decided Florence would be the perfect place to start.
“It’s a small city, but there’s movement there,” Twombly explains. “Larger cities in Italy might be able to offer more exposure, but they still feel a little bit sterile to me.”
In 2020, they opened Amanita in Florence with an exhibition of work by Marco Scarpi, a 21-year-old artist they’d found on Instagram. Twombly traveled to Cavallino-Treporti, a small town in the archipelago of Venice, to meet him and see his paintings in person.
Twombly says finding art to exhibit is “totally instinctive. It goes beyond description—it’s all about a feeling.”
Hyman, the third person behind Manhattan’s Amanita, came into the mix after the Florence success, to help organize a boxing-themed pop-up exhibition at a vacant venue in the East Village. Like all their shows, the exhibition, which opened in October 2021, featured young artists, such as Roberta Nava, Eva Berensin, and Lucien Smith, among others. It also included a massive boxing ring in the middle of the gallery.
“No one had seen anything like it before,” says Twombly. “People were really amazed.”
With the opening of the gallery on the Bowery, Rositani and Twombly will bounce back and forth between Italy and New York, while Hyman will be in Manhattan full-time. This setup isn’t permanent—new galleries are already on the horizon.
His dream location is Tokyo. “It’s a fantasy. It lacks a bit of a logical tenure, but it’s an inspiring place for me and for many artists.”
“Place Holder: Leonardo Meoni” is on view at Amanita through October 30
Elena Clavarino is an Associate Editor for AIR MAIL