Post-War Italian Art Tales is an exhibition which sheds light on the revolutionary artistic experiences of Italian art of the Post-War period up until the present day.
Conceived as a storytelling, this exhibition presents the various methods, styles and solutions of each artist, revealing them through critical quotes.
The narrative of each artist describes a key aspect of his or her work which allows the viewer to embark on a personal journey through the eyes of art historians, critics and curators.
Germano Celant, 1983
In 1957, a year before Kounellis drew up his first urban icons which were followed in 1959 by his letter works, Pier Paolo Pasolini published his Ashes of Gramsci, an anthology of poems that reflected upon the dramatic question of a generation ’stretching out’ to take on the role of the intellectual as the entity suspended between the tension of social problems and its aspiration to fulfil its own identity. […] The large works with the letters and the urban signs in black enamel became the rotuli romani to be read in public and for diffusion in the community.
Tommaso Trini, 1966
In Pistoletto’s mirroring works there is a consuming of reality. This expands in its reflection by way of the action and the movement, although without the works neither acting nor moving. In these we perceive our passing in the form of doubling or splitting ourselves, also remaining immobile. […] In Pistoletto’s work reality is reproduced in its fundamental dimensions, those of time and space.
Giuliano Briganti, 1986
Nunzio’s choice of materials – of a wood still so close to its nature as tree, of black, smoke and lead – was certainly not motivated by the ingenuous pantheistic persuasion of ‘poor’ sculpture nor by its tautological ‘staying put’ in order to testify to existing. It is imagination that gives life and character to Nunzio’s sculptures: imagination called into play from the depths of a primitive distance with an insistent and deaf force that seems to come from the very heart of the matter he employed and from the archaic forms he gave them with such essential simplicity.
Gabriella Drudi, 1975
All of Melotti’s sculptures is an inimitable event carried out in the central clearing of a labyrinth. […] Melotti used the word silence to indicate the zone of isolation that surrounds certain sculptures of the past. […] In a world which every day shouts in order to make itself heard […] Melotti uprooted sculpture from the ground and raised it into silence and empty space.
Gillo Dorfles, 1965
From among the many aspects of today’s artistic scene we see the multiplication of the examples of a tendency towards creating forms of ‘object-painting’: in other words, of a painting that notwithstanding the fact that it maintains the characteristics of autonomy, of creative uniqueness of the handicraft let us say, embodies or already intentionally has as its aim the task of first of all representing ‘itself’ and not something extrinsic. […] Bonalumi constitutes a case that really sets itself apart and which, in a certain sense, is exemplary.
Bruno Corà, 2010
Like two pillars Burri and Fontana support the architrave of an Italian and European historical and artistic continuity which time is already undertaking to ratify. […] However, and in going well beyond the differences which distinguished the paths of these two artists, there have been exhibitions and numerous critical considerations which have instead united them. […] In 1952, for example, the year in which both artists signed the Manifesto of the Spatial Movement for television at the Venice Biennial, an extremely unimportant and hardly noticed event which nevertheless appears to have been symptomatic. During the exhibition Fontana purchased a drawing by Alberto Burri. For different reasons this drawing had a very particular value for the two artists: it was entitled Lo strappo: studio (The Rent: a study).
Renato Barilli, 2007
Castellani adopted the so-called shaped canvas procedure: rather than being discarded the canvas was modelled in such a way as to take on protrusions, projections that if one wanted were physically ‘verifiable’ with the palm of one’s hand. Castellani entrusted his work to an underlying frame structure made up of nails which on his monochrome canvases impressed protrusions according to clear-cut modules.
Luciano Anceschi, 1958
Manzoni who inscribed nightmares of the unconscious on chaotic surfaces with varnish colours or distinct enamels at this point tried paled surfaces of an absolute white, entrusted to sensitivity in treating the matter and fractured by plastic reliefs and their shadows.
Adachiara Zevi, 2006
As much as Carla Accardi’s work records the artistic events that surround it like a seismograph, likewise the work by Piero Dorazio – in spite of transformations and evolutions – reaffirms inviolable presuppositions: the bidimensional surface as the measure of painting, the quality of the pictorial impasto, the intensity of the colour, the brushstroke and the composition.
Umbro Apollonio, 1966
Getulio Alviani, who with his luminous vibratory surfaces on aluminium laminate sheets by way of mechanical engravings using a circular cutter, established a multiple creation of images that are always different although in relation to a unique and determinate module. One of the main components which have an effect in these aesthetic solutions is light in all of its energetic potentialities.
Post-War Italian Art Tales
London, 12 April – 6 June 2021
Opening: Monday 12 April 2021 10am–6pm
Mazzoleni is pleased to announce that the exhibition Post-War Italian Art Tales will be open to the public from 12 April 2021.
Starting out from the revolutionary artistic experiences which marked the second half of the XX century, this exhibition highlights the fundamental role of Italian art in the international panorama from the later post-war period up until the present day.
The London gallery presents a selection of paintings and sculptures of some of the most representative protagonists of Italian art of the XX century: Carla Accardi (1924-2014), Getulio Alviani (1939-2018), Agostino Bonalumi (1935-2013), Alberto Burri (1915-1995), Enrico Castellani (1930-2017), Piero Dorazio (1927-2005), Lucio Fontana (1899-1968), Piero Manzoni (1933-1963) and Fausto Melotti (1901-1986), together with two emblematic exponents of Arte Povera: Michelangelo Pistoletto (1933) and Jannis Kounellis (1936-2017). An iconic sculpture in burnt wood by Nunzio (1954) represents the most contemporary tendencies.
The exhibition is developed by taking on the form of storytelling: the works are narrated by way of a quote on the part of curators, art historians and critics whose descriptions embrace the stylistic research and creative methodology of the artists, offering the viewer with both suggestions and cues for understanding and placing the specific approach of the artist as part of the cultural scene between the past and the present. Accompanying the public in its viewing experience and with it establishing a personal dialogue we have the words written by Luciano Anceschi (1911-1995), Umbro Apollonio (1911-1981), Renato Barilli (1935), Giuliano Briganti (1918-1992), Germano Celant (1940-2020), Bruno Corà (1942), Gillo Dorfles (1910-2018), Gabriella Drudi (1922-1998), Tommaso Trini (1937) and Adachiara Zevi (1947).
The exhibition opens with the sign gestuality of the black letters on a white ground by Kounellis, a graphic style with its iconic traits, and continues with the work by Pistoletto who substitutes the pictorial support with ‘mirroring surfaces’, taking the viewer into a new experience of the space-time dimension of the work. A space which the sculpture itself creates with its ‘fulls’ and ’empties’ in Nunzio’s burnt wood, achieved with an archaic technique which emphasises its primordial force.
In the gallery’s second room the tagli bianchi (white slashes) by Fontana and a cretto nero (black crack) by Burri pay homage to the two indisputable precursors of the opening of the surface to the concreteness of the three-dimensional space, respectively declined in spatial and matteric forms.
Manzoni created white works, better known as Achromes, totally removing colour with the intention – to use the artist’s own words – of achieving “the unlimited meaning of a total space”, beyond its physical and material boundaries.
Castellani’s estroflessioni or “shaped canvases” are an equilibrium between equal and opposed forces which modulate the surface, perceptible to the eye due to the alternation of light and shade. In the red work by Bonalumi, on the other hand, the two-dimensional nature of the canvas is articulated in three-dimensional reliefs with free geometrical configurations that give life to the “painting-object”.
The sculpture by Melotti becomes weightless by way of its filiform and fragile structures, ‘drawing’ space and creating an harmonious and equilibrated composition.
In the third and last room the expressive dimension of the painting by Dorazio and Accardi is in dialogue with the movement of the reflecting and modular surfaces of a splendid example of the cerchi virtuali (virtual circles) series by Alviani.
After the last long lockdown period in the United Kingdom the Post-War Italian Art Tales exhibition proposes a series of masterpieces of the Mazzoleni Gallery’s own collection accompanied by the words of critics and art historians who have lived side by side with the generations of the selected artists, sharing visions and experiences and furnishing the viewer with a new means of interpretation.
Mazzoleni was founded in Turin in 1986 by Giovanni and Anna Pia Mazzoleni, as a natural evolution of their private collection started in the 1950s. The historic Turin space, which occupies three floors of Palazzo Panizza, overlooking the city-centre Piazza Solferino, has since 2014 been flanked by the London gallery in Mayfair. Over the past three decades Mazzoleni has organised solo and group exhibitions of more than 200 prominent Italian and international artists from across the 20th century with an exhibition programme focused on museum-calibre Italian art from the post-war period and recently the contemporary panorama, working in close collaboration with artists’ estates and foundations.
Under the leadership of Davide and Luigi Mazzoleni, in recent years Mazzoleni has intensified its international activities, participating in numerous art fairs, including Art Basel (Basel, Miami and Hong Kong), Frieze Masters (London), TEFAF (Maastricht and New York) and FIAC (Paris).