Museo del Novecento, Milan

Palazzo dell’Arengario | Via Guglielmo Marconi, 1
20122 Milan

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press release

The Museo del Novecento presents a monographic exhibition devoted to Marinella Pirelli (1925-2009), active in the Italian art scene of the post-war period in the fields of painting and the study of moving images and light environments. Pirelli was notable for her constant and untiring research efforts on light and movement, which led to important results in the field of Italian Experimental Cinema in the 1960s. The exhibition focuses precisely on this aspect of her work, considering the period between 1961, the year of her first animated film, to 1974, when the artist made her last 16mm film, Doppio Autoritratto, before withdrawing into a silence lasting almost 20 years.

After a short experience with theater in Milan, in the 50s she moved to Rome where she met Mario Mafai, Pietro Consagra, Giulio Turcato, Pietro Cascella, Salvatore Scarpitta as well as other artists, filmmakers and professionals in the field of cinema; among them, she had intense exchanges with film operator Mario Bernardo and thanks to him she could get a job as illustrator at the animation company Filmeco.

Even though in the 60s she moved to Varese, Marinella Pirelli kept working at her art studio in Rome until 1975, the studio being a meeting point for various artists, among whom were Enrico Castellani, Mario Ceroli, Mario Merz, Jannis Kounellis and Piero Dorazio.

Marinella Pirelli’s practice shifts between two main aspects: the desire to make art a continuous and endless experimentation and the decision not to belong, at least in terms of structure and limitations, to any prearranged movement or language.

Light Movement. The Experimental Cinema of Marinella Pirelli is promoted and produced by the City of Milan | Culture with Electa and curated by Lucia Aspesi and Iolanda Ratti. The show presents a great selection of the artist’s films, that are on the one hand striking films based in a meditation on the phenomena of light and of its refraction, playing with the balance between colour and abstract forms; and on the other, acute reflections on femininity and on being an artist.

The center of the exhibition is the Film Ambiente, an immersive cinematographic structure, created and patented in 1969, which underlines Pirelli’s pioneering contribution to the Italian Expanded Cinema and researches on “light environments” of the early 1970s.

With this exhibition the Museo del Novecento highlights its purpose of presenting, together with the great masters of the 20th century, original figures active in the artistic panorama of the 1900s who are still little known to the public. The show’s foundation in rigorous research aims to showcase an insightful experimenter of the Italian visual language, re-envisioning her work in relation to the historical context of national and international art while presenting the idea of an interdisciplinary and intermediary 20th century.

The exhibition catalogue, published by Electa, is a comprehensive monography of Pirelli’s film production. It contains the first relevant and complete filmography of the artist written by filmmaker and critic Érik Bullot, along with the essays of Iolanda Ratti, Lucia Aspesi, Vittoria Broggini and Andrea Lissoni, the catalogue also presents a relevant selection of re-prints of historical texts written on Marinella Pirelli’s production on the 60s and 70s.