press release

A selection of masterworks drawn from the Solomon R Guggenheim Panza Collection will be on view at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection 2 September 2000 through 7 January 2001. One of the preeminent collections of art from the 1960s and 1970s, the Panza Collection includes many of the best examples of Minimalist painting and sculpture, conceptual art, process and postminimal art, and perceptual environments from the postwar period. This presentation of eighteen works highlights the contribution of seven Californian artists whose work produces a heightened awareness of sensory experience.

In keeping with Venice's artistic legacy and the magical quality of luminous sky and water found there, this exhibition focuses on a group of artists who have worked and exhibited in Venice Beach and Santa Monica. The maritime light characteristic of the area inspired in local artists an interest in light effects and how they are perceived. The artists featured in the exhibition are Larry Bell, Robert Irwin, Bruce Nauman, Maria Nordman, Eric Orr, James Turrell and Doug Wheeler. They create environments which make palpable and recognizable sensory stimuli as simple as light and sound, challenging the isolated nature of the traditional art object by treating art as part of a larger architectural, urban, or natural environment.

The acclaimed Italian collector Dr. Giuseppe Panza began forming his unique collection with his wife in 1956, and it has come to be regarded as one of the most ambitious collections of postwar American twentieth-century art in the world. In 1991 and 1992 the Guggenheim Foundation was fortunate to acquire through purchase, gift and loan a generous portion of this unparalleled collection. "The Panza Collection", stated Thomas Krens, Director of the Solomon R Guggenheim Foundation, "is without a doubt the most significant single collection documenting the important artistic achievements of the 1960s and the 1970s. We are pleased to present a selection to Italian and international audiences and in doing so to honor the vision and generous patronage of Dr. and Mrs. Panza. This exhibition, together with the presentation of over 100 works from the collection at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao later this fall, offers an unprecedented opportunity to view such a substantial portion of the Collection, and is a long-awaited result of the ongoing relationship between the Guggenheim Museum and the Panzas which began over a decade ago."

"Panza's journey in search of art, from Italy to the United States, from one coast to the other, from New York to Los Angeles," states Celant, curator of the exhibition, "has always been inspired to seek the inner spirit of visual research. His aesthetic curiosity has always directed itself to the essence, where time and space dissolve and produce a primal energy that is at once breath and blinding light, ultra-bright and ultra-perceptible. The idea is to seek a mystical convergence of contrasting energies, something that might bring experience and sight into dialogue, where all that matters is the zero point of silence and luminous radiance: a union of diverse spaces spanning from coast to coast, from culture to culture, from Milan to New York, from the sky of Venice, California to the sky of Venice, Italy."

This is a landmark exhibition which illuminates for Italian audiences the significant contribution of these Californian artists to the development of contemporary art as well as the profound impact the Panzas have had on the appreciation and understanding of this complex and awe-inspiring work. A fully illustrated catalogue accompanies the exhibition, containing essays by Germano Celant and Giuseppe Panza and entries on each artist in the exhibition. The catalogue is published in English and Italian by the Solomon R Guggenheim Foundation.

Venice/Venezia: California Art from the Panza Collection at the Guggenheim Museum is curated by Germano Celant, Senior Curator of Contemporary Art, and Assistant Curator Susan Cross.

California Art from the Panza Collection

Larry Bell, Robert Irwin, Bruce Nauman, Maria Nordman, Eric Orr, James Turrell, Doug Wheeler ...

Germano Celant, Susan Cross