press release

Five new sculptures, including works by the greatest American sculptors of the 20th century, have been installed in the outdoor spaces of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice. The Collection is the major venue for Modernist sculpture in Italy, and the only museum where sculptures, from Alberto Giacometti and Jean Arp to Jenny Holzer and Fabrizio Plessi, from Henry Moore to Marino Marini and Anthony Caro, can be seen together. The new arrivals are by Americans David Smith, Isamu Noguchi and Alexander Calder, and by Giuseppe Spagnulo and Maurizio Nannucci, two of Italy’s leading living Italian sculptors. On 4 July 2004, 11.30 am, at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Giovanni Carandente, formerly director of the 1962 Fourth Spoleto Festival of Two Worlds and of the 1988 and 1990 Venice Biennales, and Luca Massimo Barbero, Associate Curator of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, will present the works to the public and to the press.

Over the years, outdoor sculpture at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection has come to be one of its main attractions. As early as 1985 Luciano Minguzzi donated Two Figures (1950-1952) and in 1989 Mario Merz installed a neon sculpture on the principal garden wall, If the Form Vanishes, Its Root is Eternal (1982-89). In 1995 an agreement was signed with the Patsy and Raymond Nasher Foundation whereby sculpture from the Nasher Collection would be loaned for display in what is now known as The Nasher Sculpture Garden. Since 1999 a series of works by major artists have been given to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection for outdoor display: by Anthony Caro, Jenny Holzer, Barry Flanagan, Mimmo Paladino, Bryan Hunt, and most recently Mirko (Basaldella) and Yoko Ono. Today these can be seen along with works from Peggy Guggenheim’s collection (by Max Ernst, Raymond Duchamp-Villon, Henry Moore, Takis, Rosalda Gilardi, Germaine Richier, Jean Arp and Alberto Giacometti) and from the Nasher Sculpture Center (Dallas, Texas) (by Antoine Pevsner, Joel Shapiro and Ulrich Rückriem).

Sabot, by Alexander Calder (1898-1976) a large, black ‘stabile’ (standing form without base) of 1963, is located on the museum’s Grand Canal terrace, a few meters away from his ‘mobile,’ Arc of Petals (1941) in the museum’s entrance hall, acquired directly from the artist by Peggy Guggenheim. Sabot has been loaned by the Alexander Calder Foundation, New York. Calder (1898-1976) is best known for his ‘mobiles’—suspended wire constructions incorporating color, chance and movement. Influenced by Picasso, Mondrian, Miró and González, Calder bestowed metal with an amazing life. Having represented the United States at the 1952 Venice Biennale, for which he was awarded the first ever Grand Prix for Sculpture, he was invited in 1962 by the Italian government to create a sculpture for the Fourth Festival of Two Worlds exhibition in Spoleto, directed by Giovanni Carandente. Calder created an immense stabile, Teodelapio, for the Piazza della Stazione, which he donated to the city.

A white neon work of 2003 by Maurizio Nannucci (b. 1919), Changing Place, Changing Thoughts, Changing Time, Changing Future (long-term loan), commissioned for a recent exhibition organised by the Peggy Guggenheim Collection for the Foro Boario, Modena, is installed on a wall beside the Museum Cafe, inviting visitors to think beyond the words that they are reading. Since the 1960s, the work of Nannucci has explored the relationships between art and space, word and image, perception and imagination, employing a variety of media, including photography, video, artist’s books and installations. Relationships formed during the mid 1960s with artists from the Concrete Poetry and Fluxus groups deepened his interest in conceptual art. Nannucci is perhaps best known in Europe for his work placed in the Rome Auditorium and in the Parliament buildings of Berlin.

Odalisque of 1982, is one of two works on long-term loan from The Isamu Noguchi Foundation, Long Island City, New York, and can be seen in the museum’s internal courtyard. Isamu Noguchi (1904-88) reduces a common 19th century figurative motif to its most basic forms in an almost natural stone shape. Like Calder, of whom he was a close friend, Isamu Noguchi received his artistic education in Paris. He was based primarily in New York from the late 1920s. In 1962 he worked at the American Academy in Rome on a series of sculptures in Querceta marble, returning to the city each year for the following decade to complete the project. Noguchi’s relationship with Italy continued for many years: in 1968 he created Octetra, a modular play sculpture for children installed outside the cathedral in Spoleto; in 1979 he designed, with the architect Kenzo Tange, the Piazza Finanziaria for the Fiera di Bologna; and in 1986 he represented the United States at the Venice Biennale. A second work by Noguchi, Herodiade (Torso) of 1944 is currently installed in the indoor galleries of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. This abstract, biomorphic figure in bronze was originally conceived as part of the stage decoration for Martha Graham’s ballet Salomè.

Sentinel V, of 1959, by David Smith (1906-65) has traveled to Venice from Bolton Landing as part of a 5-year collaboration with the Estate of the artist. This is installed in the museum’s internal courtyard, close to works by Moore, Giacometti and Arp, as well as Noguchi’s Odalisque. This is one of a series of nine vertical, stainless steel sculptures by Smith, all essentially abstract yet reminiscent of the figure. The sculpture interacts with its surroundings, its polished surface reflecting different qualities of light depending on the colors of the sky. Smith is known as the leading sculptor of the American Abstract Expressionist generation. Hiss work was shown in the 1954 and 1958 Venice Biennales. Like Calder he was invited by Giovanni Carandente to participate in the 1962 Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto. This set in motion an extraordinary burst of creativity, and one of the most productive periods in the artist’s career. 27 metal sculptures were created in just 30 days, all of which were installed in Spoleto’s ancient Roman amphitheater.

Born in 1936 in Grottaglie, Taranto, one of Italy’s centres of ceramic art, Giuseppe Spagnulo’s work has focused since its very beginning on the materiality of earth. Having been taught by his father to work in terracotta, he later began to work with wood, and finally with metal. Spagnulo’s practice has frequently been described as abstract, yet rather than denying figuration, he is interested instead in exploring the physicality of his materials to create volumes that dominate space. In the late 1960s he began a series of imposing vertical metal sculptures, conceived to alter their surroundings by invading public space with an authoritarian gesture. Columns (1999, loaned courtesy of Grossetti Arte Contemporanea, Milan) belongs to this category of Spagnulo’s work.


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Präsentation: Giovanni Carandente, Luca Massimo Barbero

Werke von Alexander Calder, Maurizio Nannucci, Isamu Noguchi, David Smith, Giuseppe Spagnulo