Postwar. Italian Portagonists

Postwar. Italian Protagonists
February 23– April 15 2013
Curated by Luca Massimo Barbero

Lucio Fontana (1899-1968), Piero Dorazio (1927-2005), Enrico Castellani (b. 1930), Paolo Scheggi (1940-1971) and Rodolfo Aricò (1930-2002) are the five pioneering artists of the exhibition Postwar. Italian Protagonists. Curated by Luca Massimo Barbero, the exhibition is a re-reading of Italian art in the wake of the Informel painting that prevailed in the 1950s. The ‘protagonists’ brought the Italian art scene to an international public with a pictorial language specific to the early 60s, a new painting using the power of color and the iconography of the monochrome as defining visual and conceptual elements. The exhibition unfolds chronologically, showcasing the experimentation of each artist as, departing from the work of Lucio Fontana, these new generations developed a personal language at a critical moment of their artistic practice between the 60s and 70s.

Battle   Angular Red Surface   Unitas
Lucio Fontana
Battaglia, 1951
Polychrome ceramic,
51 cm in diameter
Courtesy Studio la Città, Verona and Galleria Tonelli, Milan
  Enrico Castellani
Angular Red Surface, 1961
Acrylic on canvas, 80 x 60 x 60 cm
Collection of the artist
  Piero Dorazio
Unitas, 1965
oil on canvas, 45.8 x 76.5 cm
Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice

Paolo ScheggiThe exhibition pays tribute to Paolo Scheggi, a Tuscan artist who died young and whose experimentation and profound artistic sensibilities are rediscovered here. Among his eight works on display is Intersuperficie curva bianca "Zone riflesse" (1963), recently donated to the museum by Franca and Cosima Scheggi.

Paolo Scheggi (Settignano, Florence, 1940–Rome, 1971)
After studying in London, Paolo Scheggi moved to Milan in 1961 where he met his contemporaries and aroused the interest of Lucio Fontana, who from 1962 attentively followed his career. The transition from the early works of assembled metal sheets and collaged materials of the late 1950s and early 1960s to the Intersuperfici was rapid: the latter are monochrome works characterized by three overlapping canvases with elliptical or circular openings. It was with one of these, in white, that Scheggi was invited to the exhibit in 44 protagonisti della visualità strutturata, curated by Carlo Belloli at the Galleria Lorenzelli in Milan in 1964. A year later Gillo Dorfles selected him as one of the exponents of Pittura Oggetto, and Umbro Apollonio and Germano Celant became interested in his work. In 1965 Scheggi joined the nove tendencjie-New Tendencies movement, and was in contact with the Nul and Zero groups. By this time enjoying international renown, in 1966 Scheggi was invited to exhibit in the 33rd Venice Biennale and in Weiss auf Weiss, curated by Harald Szeemann at the Bern Kunsthalle; in 1967 he exhibited in the V Biennale des Jeunes Artistes in Paris, Lo spazio dell’Immagine in Palazzo Trinci in Foligno and the Exposition International des Beaux Arts de Montreal; and the following year in Public Eye in Hamburg, and at the Teatro delle mostre in Galleria la Tartaruga in Rome. Despite the brevity of his career Scheggi mingled a variety of visual languages, and as early as 1964 his research extended to the field of architecture: he worked as model builder for the Nizzoli Associati office and designed a new Milanese fashion house for Germana Marucelli. After these early “gratifying [vivibili] experiences of plastic integration in architecture” he designed and constructed the Intercamera plastica, first displayed in the Galleria del Naviglio, Milan, in January 1967. In 1968 Scheggi initiated his research in the theater, transcending the traditional space of the gallery and expanding into the city: examples of this are Marcia Funebre o della geometria for the event Campo Urbano in Como and the performance Oplà Stick that traveled from Milan and Zagabria to Florence in 1969. Finally, in 1970-71, he adopted a mythical-political perspective, studying relations with religious, anthropological and symbolic forms of art, and participated in exhibitions such as Amore mio and Vitalità del negativo, both of which took place in 1970. Tomba della geometria and 6profetiper6geometrie were exhibited in 1972 at the 36th Venice Biennale: Scheggi had already been dead one year, bequeathing to the history of art outstanding examples of far reaching research and a profound sensitivity.

The spotlight is shone on Rodolfo Aricò in two rooms which, together with an accompanying publication of his artistic production from the 1960s, were made possible by the collaboration of the Archivio Rodolfo Aricò.

Rodolfo Aricò (Milan, 1930–2002)
In 1958 Aricò met Carlo Grossetti who the following year presented his first solo exhibition at the Salone Annunciata in Milan. In 1965, Roberto Sanesi dedicated a book to Aricò’s work titled Reperti: per uno studio sulla pittura di Rodolfo Aricò. In the same year Aricò took part in the 9th Rome Quadriennale, resulting in the purchase by the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna of Work in Progress. Le “simultanee forme” di Delaunay. In 1967 he was given a solo exhibition at the Galleria L’Attico in Rome. In 1968 he was awarded a room at the 34th Venice Biennale, in which he created an environment of large works that were clear evidence of the structural nature of his ‘painting-objects’. In 1969, he was given a solo exhibition at the Deson-Zacks Gallery in Chicago. In the 1970s Aricò’s work veered towards the reinterpretation of his humanistic vision of the history of art and architectural archetypes, expressed in thinly-sprayed paintings with various superimposed layers of paint that generated a monochromatic finish. In 1974, he was given a retrospective exhibition at the Palazzo Grassi in Venice. In 1977 the Comune of Ferrara gave him a retrospective exhibition in the Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea in the Parco Massari. In 1980 at the Casa del Mantegna in Mantua he held an exhibition that investigated the relations between architecture, painting and myth. The 1980s saw the crumbling of the regular geometry that had characterized the previous decades in favor of an increasingly articulated metamorphosis of contours and surfaces. In 1982, Aricò was invited to the 40th Venice Biennale, Arti Visive ‘82 section, in which he exhibited Clinamen/Prometheus. In 1986 Aricò exhibited at the 42nd Venice Biennale, Il colore section, with Structure (1968). During the 1990s he programmed a series of solo exhibitions in which he began a relation with space that was increasingly physical and corporeal, as the drama of an uninterrupted materiality undergoing implosion and explosion. In 1994 he took part in the exhibition Venezia e la Biennale at the Galleria d’Arte Moderna Ca’ Pesaro in Venice. In 1997, at the A arte Studio Invernizzi in Milan, he exhibited spiritually charged works titled Evenings in which canvas and color become one in such a way as to constitute existential presences in their grandiose objectiveness. In 2001 the Galleria Spazio Annunciata in Milan held his last solo exhibition.

Paolo Scheggi in his studio in Via Tadino, 1964. Photo Ada Ardessi © Isisuf. Istituto Internazionale di Studi sul Futurismo, Milan.
Rodolfo Aricò, Milan 1969. Courtesy Archivio Rodolfo Aricò, Milan.