About the collection


The collection of the Valeria Costa Piccinini Heritage Fund consists of over 3000 documents and artworks including paintings, drawings, sketches of scenography, theatrical costumes, travel diaries, and photographs, which the artist produced in over 60 years. This significant collection of works, that encompasses almost all of Valeria Costa's production, has been recently repurchased by the family, through the specifically established fund.


Art historian Paola Watts wrote about her: "Valeria Costa's works have the gift of transpassing time and ages. It's almost impossible to identify when she made each of her work, not only because the artist didn't want to date them, but also because all her paintings look timeless. The observer can recognize in them the perennial and immutable cycles of life itself. Even if her pictorial production is very diverse, it's not devoid of coherence and the clashing elements we can find are part of her composite style and her interest for uncommon visions”.

Despite the difficulty in identifying the dates of the creation of her paintings, it is however possible to recognize different expressive and narrative strands that have alternated and much more often overlapped over the decades. The collection represents all the genres with which Costa has worked for almost seven decades testifying to the multiple influences she received: the realistic style inspired by the new German objectivity and Italian magical realism of the 30s and 40s, the neo-expressionist aesthetic that she has been referring since the late 1960s,  informal and geometric abstraction, not to mention her fascination for surrealism.

Exhibition history


There have been few occasions to get to know Valeria Costa's works live during her life. The first group exhibition in which the artist took part and of which we have documentation is the third edition of the Rome Quadrennial, in 1939, where she participated with the painting "Portrait of Carla" (1938). The work that today is presumably in a private collection in France testifies to all its proximity to the Roman School and, as the art critic Fabrizio d'Amico points out, a certain fascination for the German Neue Sachlichkeit. The beginning of the Second World War interrupted her exhibition career.


After WWII, she started working with her brother Orazio and her involvement in the theater prevailed over her pictorial pursuit for about twenty years. The painting remained almost a private exercise for the artist, in a time when it was still very difficult for a woman to be represented and find a space in the art domain. Valeria Costa came back to exhibiting her works only many years later.


Among the most significant exhibitions: the solo show at the Monumental Complex of San Michele a Ripa in the spring of 1992 which was followed by a cycle of four solo shows in the mid-90s at the Trimarchi Contemporary Art gallery in Bologna; the great retrospective at the Vittoriano Museo del Risorgimento in 2002 which was echoed by the solo show at Ariete Gallery in Bologna the same year. To make up for this lack, the artist's family recently decided to create a fund that can support the promotion and spread of Valeria Costa's work in Italy and worldwide so that her important legacy cannot be forgotten.


The years of the new objectivity

The artist's first production, which began around the mid-1930s, is characterized by an 'objective' style which is strongly influenced by the influence of the German Neue Sachlichkeit, but also by Italian magical realism and the Roman school ...


Human, All Too Human... 

neo-expressionist paintings 

At the beginning of the 1960s, Costa moved towards a renewal of expressionist style that best managed to express the complexity and depth of her inner universe. Looking back in time towards the historical avant-gardes seemed for the artist more functional to the expression of her vision of the world as a place still full of contradictions and suffering (...)

Abstract paintings

Without ever dropping figuration, in the 1950s, Valeria Costa began to move towards abstract art. 


Neo-surrealist works

Made between the late 70s and early 90s, often following the method of surrealist automatism, these drawings are part of a series of works in which the artist reproduced dreams and nightmares from her unconscious mind, images and fantastic creatures of Greco-Roman mythology. Harpies, Parcae, Cyclops are just some of the creatures that appear in this series of works.

works on paper


portraits, landscapes, illustrations

the collection contains a substantial number of works on paper that the artist has produced throughout her life, often during travel or even simply when she was looking for a way to escape from her daily reality



"Among your drawings that I like all, someone seems to me to reveal not a regret of the theater, but an idealization of what we would have imagined of becoming""

Orazio Costa in a letter to his sister Valeria