press release

Italics: Italian Art between Tradition and Revolution 1968-2008 is a ground-breaking exhibition devoted to contemporary Italian art and creativity, co-presented by the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), Chicago, and the Palazzo Grassi, Venice, on view at the MCA from November 14, 2009 - February 14, 2010. Guest curated by Francesco Bonami, Italics presents more than 80 Italian artists active during the past four decades whose work offers a deep sense of originality and vitality, whether embracing their classical roots, breaking away from traditions, or reflecting the social transformation of Italy.

Italics examines the revolutionary art production and experimentation of artists whose work spans all visual media to create thought-provoking dialogues across generations and cultures. Presented in arrangements loosely structured around themes of family, self, politics, and design, Italics connects the work of internationally known Italian artists from an earlier generation including two of the leading exponents of Arte Povera -- Mario Merz and Alighiero Boetti -- along with Lucio Fontana and Alberto Burri -- to the Transavanguardia artists -- Francesco Clemente and Enzo Cucchi -- with a younger generation of artists such as Maurizio Cattelan, Stefano Arienti, Paola Pivi, Giuseppe Gabellone, and Luisa Lambri. Yet at the same time, Italics questions the desire to reduce Italian art to its well known artistic movements, as well as challenges stereotypical notions of Italy.

Contemporary Italian art is full of contradictions and dualities: the past and the present; tradition and revolution; religion and sensuality; ancient ruins and high design. While the term "Italian art" conjures iconic frescoes, romantic human forms, and gilded richness, Italy is also a source of new creativity and innovation. From Arte Povera to minimalism, from post-pop to the neo avant-garde, contemporary Italian art forges new identities and offers fresh perspectives on its changing culture. Francesco Bonami says, "This country, blessed with so many exceptional talents, has trapped them in an invisible box. Italics does not pretend to rewrite 40 years of art history, but rather to tell a different tale in a new way."

Italics is the first major exhibition to substantially address the vast transformation in Italian art since the Guggenheim Museum show Italian Metamorphosis, which focused on Italian art from 1943 to 1967. Italics begins in 1968, the year that marked the end of the post-war boom in the rebuilding of Italy after World War II, and the eruption of a global cultural revolution that radically challenged social foundations. The exhibition opens in the fourth-floor atrium with a spectacular new sculptural work by Maurizio Cattelan, titled All (2008). Nine shrouded corpses, sculpted from white marble, symbolically lay to rest the ghosts of the Italian Renaissance and Baroque past, while offering commentary on the tensions of the present moment. Italics looks through the landscape of history to view the past not as a burden but as a source of endless inspiration. Immersed in the weight of Italy's history and tradition, Italics attempts to excavate a great, ancient, and contemporary civilization that is split between a glorious past and an uncertain future. Italics presents a close-up examination of artistic expression that grapples with an understanding of both local and international cultural transformations.

Additional featured artists working in all variety of media from sculpture and painting to drawing and installation, include Enrico Baj, Gabriele Basilico, Letizia Battaglia, Mario Ceroli, Marisa Merz, Bruno Munari, Pino Pascali, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Ettore Sottsass, and Patrick Tuttofuoco, among many others. The MCA presentation is organized by Tricia Van Eck, Curatorial Coordinator and Curator of Artist's Books.

Francesco Bonami The exhibition was on view at Palazzo Grassi in the fall of 2008 and is guest curated by Francesco Bonami, who is the artistic director of the Fondazione Sandretto ReRebaudengo per l'Arte in Turin, Pitti Immagine Discovery in Florence, and ENEL Contemmporanea. He previously served as the MCA’s Manilow Senior Curator and the Manilow Senior Curator-at-Large. He is also a curator of the 2010 Whitney Biennial in New York. Born in Florence, he closely follows the movements and development of contemporary Italian art.

Exhibition Catalogue Italics: Italian Art between Tradition and Revolution 1968-2008 includes critical essays by the curator Francesco Bonami, along with Guido Guerzoni, Giuliano da Empoli, Francesco Manacorda, and Paola Nicolin that chart how contemporary art has been appreciated and consumed by Italians and tourists alike since 1968. The central section of the catalogue presents the works selected for the show by the curator Francesco Bonami. These range from Michelangelo Pistoletto, Gilberto Zorio, and Mario Merz, to Patrick Tuttofuoco, Ra di Martino, and Paola Pivi. The third part contains a chronology that summarizes the political, social, and cultural events year by year from 1968. There are 200 color illustrations.

Italics: Italian Art Between Tradition & Revolution 1968-2008 is co-organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, and Palazzo Grassi, Venice, Italy – the François Pinault Foundation. Generous support for the Chicago presentation is provided by the Stefan Edlis and Gael Neeson Foundation, Andrea and Jim Gordon, Terry and Cynthia Perucca, Sara Szold, the Kanbar Charitable Trust, and Marilyn and Larry Fields. Special thanks to the Istituto Italiano di Cultura Chicago for its support of the exhibition catalogue.

The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (MCA) is a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization accredited by the American Association of Museums. The MCA is generously supported by its Board of Trustees, individual and corporate members, private and corporate foundations, and government agencies including the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency, and the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs. The Chicago Park District generously supports MCA programs. Air transportation is provided by American Airlines, the Official Airline of the Museum of Contemporary Art. The MCA is located at 220 E. Chicago Avenue, one block east of Michigan Avenue. The museum and sculpture garden are open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm and Tuesday from 10 am to 8 pm. The museum is closed on Monday. Enjoy free admission every Tuesday. Suggested general admission is $12 for adults and $7 for students and seniors. Children 12 years of age and under, MCA members, and members of the military are admitted free. Information about MCA exhibitions, programs, and special events is available on the MCA website at or by telephone at 312.280.2660.

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Italics. Italian Art between Tradition and Revolution 1968-2008
Kurator: Francesco Bonami / MCA: Tricia Van Eck

Künstler: Stefano Arienti, Micol Assael, Enrico Baj, Gabriele Basilico, Letizia Battaglia, Vanessa Beecroft, Alighiero e Boetti, Alberto Burri, Maurizio Cattelan, Francesco Clemente, Mario Ceroli, Enzo Cucchi, Roberto Cuoghi, Enrico David, Lucio Fontana, Giuseppe Gabellone, Massimo Grimaldi, Renato Guttuso, Maria Lai, Luisa Lambri, Rä di Martino, Fernando Melani, Mario Merz, Marisa Merz, Bruno Munari, Gastone Novelli, Pino Pascali, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Paola Pivi, Ettore Sottsass, Patrick Tuttofuoco, Gilberto Zorio ...

27.09.08 - 22.03.09 Palazzo Grassi, Venedig
14.11.09 - 14.02.10 Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago