Thursday, October 16, 2008

VENICE: Palazzo Grassi - Italics

Palazzo Grassi – Italics. Francesco Bonami, curator of the Italics exhibition at Palazzo Grassi, until March 22nd, 2008, describes Italian contemporary art as a train for which some of its cars would have already crossed borders and oceans and others have been in the maze of the Italian contemporary history. “Italics. Italian Art between Tradition and Revolution, 1968-2008” is a journey into 40 turbulent years in search of an answer through the works of new, forgotten, unknown, overlooked and well-known names. “Italics” is an open journey that takes the risk of not finding an answer but perhaps uncovering more questions and more doubts. “Italics” is not a survey aimed at reaching a clear cut “Who’s Who” but instead an exploration to find out why Italy has been hovering on the threshold of a more encompassing world for so long. “Italics” has been conceived as vessel to carry the viewer into a territory which only seems familiar, but in which many of its facets remain untouched and undiscovered. The final question posed by “Italics” is why Italian artists failed to achieve the international recognition they so merited — and which the show justly hopes to provide. The success of “Italics” will be measured by its capacity to provide many possible answers and discover even more questions.” Francesco Bonami.

Palazzo Grassi – Italics – Maurizio Cattelan – All, 2008 – Carrara marble, 9 Sculptures. As well as displaying a playful irreverence towards the icons of art and power, Maurizio Cattelan explores the suffering, unhappiness and dissatisfaction that seems to be part of contemporary life, In All, he deals with the slaughter, persecution and martyrdom that recur throughout human history – issues which, like Cattelan’s own art, trouble and disturb our collective Unconscious. All invites us to reflect upon how the violence, which has become such a feature of our society can make each and every dead person into an anonymous cadaver.

Palazzo Grassi – Italics. Monique Veaute.

Palazzo Grassi – Italics. Yervant Gianikian and Angela Ricci Lucchi – Cesare Lombroso – Sull’Odore del Garofano, 1976 – 16mm film transferred to DVD, 12’. Film makers much appreciated abroad but rather underestimated in Italy, Gianikian and Ricci Lucchi would, from the mid-70s onwards experiment with so called “scented films”: screenings/performances in which the moving image was accompanied by scents and odors intended to stir olfactory memories. Cesare Lombroso – Sull’Odore del Garofano was filmed in Turin home/museum of the (in)famous criminologist, Strassmann, a disciple of Lombroso’s, had in fact carried out a series of experiments on criminals’ sense of smell, reaching the conclusion that it was substantially less sensitive than that of non-criminals.

Palazzo Grassi – Italics. Marina and Vittorio Gregotti.

Palazzo Grassi – Italics. Servane Giol and Marie Brandolini d’Adda.

Palazzo Grassi – Italics. One of the saloni of Palazzo Grassi seen from the balcony.

Palazzo Grassi – Italics: Mario Ceroli – Le Bandiere di Tutto il Mondo, 1968 – colored earth in zinc containers. In Le Bandiere di Tutto il Mondo, Mario Ceroli takes the flag motif so beloved of American Pop artists and treats it in a more expansive, spectacular manner. The national emblems are no longer “real” but recreated in bands of brightly-colored earth within zinc containers: these latter are then linked together in a well-ordered “crowd,” a visual embodiment of the notion of collective existence.

Palazzo Grassi – Italics.
Nicolo Dona delle Rose.

Palazzo Grassi – Italics – detail. The fire extinguisher is Nicolo Dona delle Rose’s favorite “work of art” in Palazzo Grassi.

Palazzo Grassi – Italics. Bianca Loredan, Francesco and Jane da Mosto.

Palazzo Grassi – Italics. Alessandra Gaggia.

Palazzo Grassi – Italics: Salvo – The Tombstones, 1970-1972 – marble. These "Tombstones” show the artist raising veritable memorials to himself the creator and subject of each work. In fact, the tombstones – the very symbol of the end of life – become a monument to the continuing life of the artist.

Palazzo Grassi – Italics – detail. Salvo – Io Sono il Migliore, 1970 - marble.

Palazzo Grassi – Italics. Annamaria Sbrisa and Andrea Zucchi.

Palazzo Grassi – Italics.
Piero Gilardi.

Palazzo Grassi – Italics: Piero Gilardi – Sassaia di Fiume, 1968 – expanded polyurethane.
Along with Joseph Beuys and Gustav Metzger, Piero Gilardi was probably one of the first European artists to explore the relation between art, ecology and ethics. Among his most famous works is the series Tappeti-Natura, which includes the Sassaia di Fiume. In man-made materials, these works are faithful reproduction of natural eco-systems (for example, river beds, meadows or other areas of natural landscape). They remind us of a long gone world by showing us one in which Nature only survives as a pale copy of itself.

Palazzo Grassi – Italics.
Jasmine and Philippe Starck.

Palazzo Grassi – Italics: Michelangelo Pistoletto – Le Trombe del Giudizio, 1968 – Aluminum. The need for a convergence of art and life is the theme of Trombe del Giudizio, part of the performance, which Michelangelo Pistoletto calls Azioni. Here, the artist’s determination to bring together art and life finds playful expression in the use of three old radio loudspeakers (bought in the flea market in Turin) as musical instruments. Pistoletto performed on these first in the courtyard of his studio and then in various public places.
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