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Italian Art Blooms in New York City

This spring many galleries are showing the work of modern and contemporary Italian artists

by Genevieve Martin
Italian art new york

Mario Merz Installation at Sperone Gallery

Alighiero Boetti, Alberto Biasi, Giulio Paolini, Mario Merz, Lucio Fontana, and even Medardo Rosso: New York galleries are crowded with Italians this season. Here is your guide not to miss one


This spring, Italian art is blossoming in New York City, and CIMA’s mission to promote the appreciation of modern Italian art on the international stage reverberates louder than ever, as the season brings to the city’s galleries many shows. Some of the exhibits highlight artists who have long eluded American viewers, like Fausto Melotti at Hauser & Wirth, while others illuminate new visual meaning through the concept of pairs, like Alighiero e Boetti and Mel Bochner at the new Lower East Side gallery TOTAH.

Tutto Boetti
boetti arte italiana new york

Alighiero e Boetti, Le infinite possibilità di esistere, c. 1990

There are three sites one can currently see Boetti’s work in New York. Gladstone Gallery, in collaboration with the Fondazione Alighiero e Boetti in Rome, presents Alighiero Boetti’s Tutto works. Following the quintessential colorful grids of letters that spell out phrases (Arazzi) and world maps (Mappe), this exhibition features the artist’s final series of embroidered works, worked on until his death in 1994. Tutto or “all,” “everything,” is a visual cacophony weaving together the themes and images that comprise Boetti’s oeuvre: twins, hardware, lamps, letters, towers, continents, and abstractions on tapestries edge to edge.

Alighiero Boetti, Tutto is on view at the Gladstone Gallery (130 E 64th St.), May 6 – June 30, 2016.

If Tutto is the image of Boetti’s sweeping aesthetic unity, then Verba Volant Scripta Manent at TOTAH seeks to unfold the nuanced poetics in the intersection of Boetti’s and Bochner’s communicative impulse. Despite their shared visual form, this exhibition marks the first time Boetti’s and Bochner’s works have been shown together. The exquisitely curated visual pile-up of speech is materially rich (tapestries and velvets abound) and far removed from quotidian conversation -testing the limits of language.

Verba Volant Scripta Manent is on view at TOTAH (183 Stanton Street), February 25 – May 15, 2016.

All Sol’s Men
paolini arte italiana new york

Giulio Paolini, Sotto le stelle, detail, 1985-88

The Drawing Center presents Drawing Dialogues: Selections from the Sol LeWitt Collection, an exhibition featuring over one hundred works by more than sixty artists from LeWitt’s collection. The show examines mark-making in unexpected materials and the dialogues made between generations. Postcards written to and from LeWitt give a window into the rich history of artists once working in SoHo. The exhibition also features some works by Italian artists, including Boetti as well as Giulio Paolini, one of the focuses of CIMA’s 2016-2017 exhibition season.

Drawing Dialogues: Selections from the Sol LeWitt Collection is on view at The Drawing Center (35 Wooster Street), April 15 – June 12, 2016.

First Time with Biasi
biasi arte italiana new york

Alberto Biasi, Dinamica circolare, 1965-91

Alberto Biasi: A Dynamic Meditation  is the first exhibition at GR Gallery, a new gallery in the Lower East Side. It showcases over twenty of the kinetic pioneer’s works since the 1960s, including examples from his Optico-Dynamic Reliefs, Torsions and Assemblages series (La Voce interviews the artist on the retinal show here).

Alberto Biasi is on view at the GR Gallery, (255 Bowery), March 31- May 22, 2016.

The Diversity of Melotti
Melotti arte italiana new york

Fausto Melotti, Il viaggio della luna, 1973

Hauser & Wirth presents, Fausto Melotti, the gallery’s debut exhibition of works by the late Italian sculptor, installation artist, and poet. The show celebrates the material breadth of the artist through drawings, ceramics, and sculptures, plaster bas-reliefs, and fantastical terracotta ‘Teatrini’. The variety communicates both the great innovations of modernist art in mid-century Italy as well as the language of his work which is both universal and highly personal.
. Melotti trained as a figurative artist under Adolfo Wildt at the Accademia do Brera in Milan, where he befriended fellow pupil Lucio Fontana and his interest shifted to a new abstract and non-objective art. The exhibition is curated by Douglas Fogle, former Chief Curator at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, and is accompanied by a new publication featuring historical material from the archive of Fondazione Fausto Melotti.

Fausto Melotti is on view at Hauser & Wirth, (32 East 69th Street), April 20-June 18, 2016.

Spaces between Castellani and Fontana
Castellani arte italiana new york

Enrico Castellani, Superficie rossa n. 8, 1966

Enrico Castellani: Interior Space at Dominique Lévy boasts a selection of the artist’s large-scale shaped relief canvases presented in juxtaposition with more recent angular metallic paintings. It’s the first solo exhibition of the revered Italian artist that the gallery has held, with works spanning from the 1960s nearly to the present, declaring Castellani’s break with the trajectory of painting by rupturing traditional format and surface.

Enrico Castellani: Interior Space is on view at Dominique Lévy, 909 Madison Avenue, April 7 – May 21, 2016.

Robilant + Voena’s pop-up exhibition of Lucio Fontana investigates spatiality across the artist’s career. Fontana’s elegant exploitations of flatness through his ubiquitous gesture, ‘tagli’(slashes) are featured alongside lesser-known late works, metal sculptures and ceramic objects. The resultant is a carefully curated show demonstrating the breadth of techniques, phases and intricacies of Fontana’s legacy.

Lucio Fontana is on view at Robilant + Voena’s temporary space at 24th East 80th Street, May 6-27, 2016.

Merz’s Maths
Merz arte italiana new york

Mario Merz, Tavola a spirale, 1982

Sperone Westwater highlights the best-known formats of Mario Merz (predominantly from the early 1980s). Merz’s expressive range and central thematic concerns are made manifest through tables, shelters, and expansive unstretched canvases that incorporate three-dimensional attachments and organic materials. Tavola a spirale (Spiral Table), 1982, is comprised from an assortment of branches, fruit, and vegetables and echoes the artist’s ongoing interest in the Fibonacci sequence in its form: As the structure radiates from its’ locus point, it translates the organic progression of this principle in nature.

Mario Merz is on view at Sperone Westwater, (257 Bowery), April 30 –June 18, 2016.

Rosso’s Experiments
medardo rosso arte italiana new york

Medardo Rosso: Ten Bronzes at Peter Freeman, Inc.

Currently on view at Peter Freeman, Inc. is a beautiful exhibition of Medardo Rosso’s work in bronze [use link above], co-presented by Amedeo Porro Fine Arts of Lugano and London. Rosso, who was the subject of CIMA’s second season in 2014-15, is perhaps best known for his sculptures in wax, but his work in bronze is particularly interesting– because the artist cast his sculptures himself rather than rely on commercial foundries. No two casts are the same, and this exhibition reveals the evidence of the artist’s working process, with nails, holes, and other casting detritus still evident on the bronze surfaces. The exhibition includes two examples of Rosso’s rarely seen and little known work making copies of antique sculptures: a sculpture of St. Francis and one of Niccolo’ da Uzzano, both after Donatello. The first exhibition to focus exclusively on Rosso’s bronzes, Medardo Rosso: Ten Bronzes offers a rare opportunity to engage with Rosso’s material process.

Medardo Rosso: Bambino ebreo is on view at Peter Freeman, Inc., (140 Grand Street), June 5 –July 25, 2016.


By: Genevieve Martin Development & Institutional Relations – Center for Italian Modern Art 


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