Artists at Le Sirenuse is the continuation of a family passion. When the four Sersale siblings, scions of an old Neapolitan dynasty, opened up their seaside house in Positano as a hotel called Le Sirenuse in 1951, it was only natural that it should be adorned with some of the beautiful things they had accumulated over the decades. These antiques, artworks, textiles, ceramics and other items were added to in subsequent years, especially by Franco Sersale, a traveller, photographer and aesthete of unerring taste. You can read about his dedication to the lived fabric of the hotel and Le Sirenuse’s continued engagement with skilled artisans in the Chasing Bellezza section of the website.
After Franco passed away in 2015, his son Antonio Sersale and daughter-in-law Carla decided to pursue their own interest in contemporary art by commissioning a series of site-specific installations. Working together with British curator Silka Rittson-Thomas, they invited leading international artists to create works for the hotel in much the same way Franco had always approached more traditional artists and artisans: by inviting them to come, see, and absorb the genius loci, by trusting their inspiration while respecting the extraordinary aesthetic palimpsest that Le Sirenuse has become, by talking, sharing and generating ideas.
An ethereal 2015 video work by Italian artist Beatrice Pediconi that plays on guestroom TV sets was the curtain-raiser for a project that launched in earnest with the installation of Martin Creed’s neon work ‘Don’t Worry’ in the main hotel bar lounge in the spring of 2016. Since then, artists of the caliber of Stanley Whitney, Alex Israel, Matt Connors and Rita Ackermann have produced site-specific works exclusively for Le Sirenuse. With each new work, the challenge of finding the perfect home amidst the hotel’s busy design scheme becomes more difficult – and for that very reason, more enjoyable.
Silka Rittson-Thomas is an independent art advisor based in London. She co-founded Artists at Le Sirenuse in 2015 with Antonio and Carla Sersale.
It started as a “Le Sirenuse side project” – but Franco’s Bar has developed a proud life of its own since its inauguration in 2015. A posthumous homage to the hotel’s historic style arbiter, Franco Sersale, this is more than just another seaside bar. It is also a meeting of artistic and artisanal excellence, where the work of Italian craftsmen like those from ancient ceramics company Fornace De Martino, founded in Salerno in 1479, figure alongside the creations of a pair of leading contemporary artists. In the restrooms, the mirror graffiti poems of provocative New-York-based Karl Holmqvist reference Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Rimbaud and Jenny Holzer in a dizzying scurry of phrases. Dominating the main terraced area, an acid-yellow ceramic fountain by Roman artist Giuseppe Ducrot is a sketch become sculpture, a tipsy neo-Baroque centerpiece made from strips of refractory clay that the artist describes as “huge fettuccine”. As in the hotel, the works of art at Franco’s Bar are distinctive voices engaged in a fertile dialogue with the material and conceptual culture and landscape of Le Sirenuse, Positano and the Amalfi Coast.