Venice: Peggy Guggenheim Collection – Capogrossi - A Retrospective. Luca Massimo Barbero, curator, presents the exhibition "Capogrossi. A Retrospective" at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, 29 Sept. 2012 - 10 Feb. 2013.
PGC:– Capogrossi - A Retrospective. Capogrossi, A Retrospective, curated by Luca Massimo Barbero, at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, until February 10, pays tribute to a major figure in the first generation of post war Italian painters. More than seventy works trace the evolution of the career of Giuseppe Capogrossi, this exhaustive retrospective presents his unique contribution to 20th-century art through the revelation of his early works between the wars and through the analysis of his abstract style of grandiose orchestrations of sign and color, with its numerous variations in the 1950s and 1960s.
Above: Abstract, 1964, tapestry in wool manufactured by Arazzeria Scassa of Asti, a small scale replica of the 1963 tapestry manufactured for the ocean liner Michelangelo.
Photograph courtesy Peggy Guggenheim Collection
Above: Giuseppe Capogrossi in his studio, 1961. Fondazione Archivio Capogrossi, Rome.
PGC: Capogrossi - A Retrospective. The retrospective opens with a selection of the artist’s figurative paintings, amongst others, The Rowers, above, (1933), The Storm (1933), and The Tiber in Flood (1933). These works, characterized by intense tonal painting and by figures and places suspended in atmosphere and light, take the public by surprise, with their subtle intuitions of that celebrated abstract glyph that years later was to make the artist famous.
PGC: Capogrossi - A Retrospective. Surface 019, 1948-1949 oil on lined paper. More than seventy works trace the evolution of the career of Giuseppe Capogrossi, a major figure in the first generation of post war Italian painters. This exhaustive retrospective presents his unique contribution to 20th-century art through the revelation of his early works between the wars and through the analysis of his abstract style of grandiose orchestrations of sign and color, with its numerous variations in the 1950s and 1960s.
PGC: Capogrossi - A Retrospective. Surface 419, 1950, oil on paper mounted on canvas. In works such as Surface 68 and 419 Capogrossi’s ‘sign’ not only articulates space rhythmically but is interposed between the luminous notion of white space and the observer: giant, peremptory signs with a thickness suggestive of shadow. Now the ‘sign’ has become structure, a constructive element, where painting openly declares itself as a procedure far removed from an instinctual process of signs and gestures, becoming a concentrated field, a magnetic zone that causes attractions and repulsions between various form-elements.
PGC: Capogrossi - A Retrospective. Surface 132, 1950, oil on lined paper. At times as in Surface 110, Surface 678 (Carthage) and Surface 132, above, the dense flow of ‘signs’, their concatenation, the idea of immobility in movement, the ignition of a metaphysical rhythm of things, return.
PGC: Capogrossi - A Retrospective. Surface 275, 1957,oil on canvas.
PGC: Capogrossi - A Retrospective. In surface 333, 1959, Capogrossi experimented with materials that create denser space and expand his ‘sign’. The forms become progressively larger, the weave coarser, the canvas less busy and the contrast monumental. The mature and intense deployment of his materials gave rise to macroscopic images in which sign structures the surface like monumental spatial architecture.
The curator of the exhibition Luca Massimo Barbero also edited the catalogue. The substantial monograph is published by Marsilio Editori and was commissioned, in collaboration, with the Fondazione Archivio Capogrossi, in which eleven essays cover all aspects of Capogrossi’s career from his beginnings in the 1930s through to his international recognition in the 50s and 60s, his exhibitions, and his relations with national and international critics.
The director of the Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia, Gabriella Belli.
PGC: Capogrossi - A Retrospective. Surface 633, 1968, white relief, cork on Masonite. In the early 1960s Capogrossi began making white monochrome reliefs, which he exhibited for the first time in a solo show in June 1960 at the Galleria del Cavallino in Venice. They have been rarely exhibited and virtually unknown to the public. They testify to Capogrossi’s ongoing investigation of space by eliminating color, as in Surface 633, above. As if returning to a zero point in his spatial language, the colorless relief is the site of the purest level of expression, where structural interactions between negative and positive, emptiness and fullness, concave and convex are experimented.
PGC: Capogrossi - A Retrospective. Surface 600,1967. Oil on Canvas. Surface 600, above, is a large canvas that renders vivid the monumental spatial quality of the ‘sign’ in Capogrossi’s work, as do other works in this room. The gigantic half-moon shape is structured on overlapping planes in and extensive and irregular compositional dynamic. It progresses to a further level of alternating positives and negatives in an asymmetric distribution of tensions and directions. The surface predominately feature large areas of white signs in which oppositional pairings of black and red appear to have been wedged in, and which open up possible interpretations of space.
PGC: Capogrossi - A Retrospective. Surface 385, 1960, oil on canvas. Surface 385 was created for the first class lounge of the ocean liner Leonardo da Vinci: it is archetypical of Capogrossi’s distinctive handling of the oval, stemming from the combination of two of his characteristic signs that generate the dynamics of a new pictorial space. The idea of conjoining the work and the visual field, nullifying perimetral angularity, led Capogrossi to experiment with oval forms, in which the painting may take an oval shape within rectangular borders (like Surface 399). Capogrossi’s dialogues with the space that lies outside of a painting and his decorative and architectonic large-scale collaborations, such as tapestries or mosaics, make him one of the masters of Italian style.
Curator Luca Massimo Barbero, Guglielmo Capogrossi Guarna president of the Fondazione Archivi Capogrossi and the director of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection Philip Rylands.
The view on the Grand Canal from the terrace of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection.