Upcoming exhibition

LA DOLCE VITA

AVANT-GARDE ARTISTS IN POST-WAR ROME

20 October 2017 - 20 December 2017

After dedicating many shows to the Milanese art scene of the 1960s Tornabuoni Art Paris inaugurates a second journey into Italian art, with the exhibition La Dolce Vita: Avant-Garde Artists in Post-War Rome.

La Dolce Vita refers to an historical period in Rome of the 1950s-1960s and specifically to new trends and lifestyle that became synonymous with Federico Fellini’s 1961 film, La Dolce Vita, a chef-d’oeuvre of Italian cinema.

In the 1950s, Rome was recovering from the wounds of WWII. While this dark past was in the background, these were the years of the economic boom and rebuilding, that came with a strong desire to make the most of life and celebrate beauty after the horror of war and Fascism. At that time Rome also became a destination that attracted international intellectuals and artists, such as Robert Rauschenberg and Cy Twombly.
From the remains of the war emerged a wave of change, the birth of a modern era, with the formation of new artistic movements that would make their mark on the 20th century. This exhibition explores the way the art that emerged in Rome at this time – the Forma 1 and Origine groups and Roman Pop – were inspired by the cultural panorama of those years to push the boundaries of painting in a way that still influences contemporary art today.

La Dolce Vita pays tribute to and documents this historical moment in Italian art with a selection of 40 museum-quality works, many – including those by Alberto Burri, Carla Accardi and Piero Dorazio – created between the 1950s and 1960s, and others made in the years following La Dolce Vita, by artists such as Jannis Kounellis and Mario Ceroli, directly inspired by their experiences of the Post-War Roman art scene.

The first group of artists presented in the exhibition, named Forma 1, was founded in 1947 by Carla Accardi, Piero Dorazio and Giulio Turcato, among others. In their manifesto, published in the Forma 1 journal in April 1947, the artists claim to be “formalists and Marxists”, their ambition being to connect Marxist politics to abstract art. The group promoted a structural anti-realist, abstract art that gives importance to the form and the sign in their basic sense, excluding any symbolic or psychological representation in their work.
Forma 1 disbanded in 1951 but left a deep mark on 20th-century Italian Art.

The year 1951 also saw the birth of the Gruppo Origine of which Dorazio was also a member. Maintaining numerous contacts with American artists, such as Cy Twombly and Robert Rauschenberg, the group was founded by Alberto Burri, Giuseppe Capogrossi, Ettore Colla and Mario Ballocco. The Gruppo Origine considered abstract art to be “decorative” and instead sought to become the reference for non-figurative art, reducing colour to its simplest and most incisive expressive function, developing pure and elementary images.

During this period, Rome also benefitted from an intense dialogue with the USA through the strong influence of the language of American Pop Art. By the late 1950s, Italian Pop precursors emerged in Rome: Mimmo Rotella with his appropriation of street posters through layering, tearing and peeling; followed by the sculptures of Mario Ceroli. Italian Pop Art found its unity in the Roman group Scuola di Piazza del Popolo whose members included Tano Festa, Franco Angeli and Mario Schifano.
Roman Pop Art’s fertile experimentation with images and art differs from other contemporaneous Italian art scenes. Refusing to relinquish figuration, these artists developed their own artistic vocabulary, defined by cultural references to the past, art and its history. These references to classical art also influenced the work of Pino Pascali and Renato Mambor.
In the creative setting of Post-War Rome, artists such as Mario Ceroli and Jannis Kounellis embarked on more radical experiments, creating sculptural forms and challenging traditional notions of artistic classification, materials and genre – ideas that later found fruition in Arte Povera.

As a tribute to Jannis Kounellis, who passed away last February, the final room of this exhibition will be dedicated to his monumental Untitled work from 1989, a 16-metre-long installation made of iron, lead, oil lamps and coal – materials typical of his Arte Povera work.

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