press release

Mart is staging a new set-up of selected works from its permanent collection together with some documents from its archives. After "Art Rooms", featuring the Museum's leading masterpieces and a large number of works on loan from leading international museums; after "A Journey with the Muses", which provided a fascinating opportunity to reappraise some of the collection's greatest works through the perspective of the twentieth century; after the recent exhibition of 70 works chosen from the over 9,000 in the Mart collection, and the focus on the brief period before Futurism to the beginning of the 30s, featuring 240 works selected by Gabriella Belli - and co-ordinated by Nicoletta Boschiero - the new exhibition is another opportunity to see the permanent collection, this time with some masterpieces that have never been seen before in Rovereto. The new show - which will take the visitor up to Arte Povera in the 60s and 70s - will focus on women artists in the important Panza collection - starting with Futurism and the smart intelligence and poetic genius of Tommaso Marinetti: an experimental artist ante litteram who tried out a number of methods of mass communication. He was an influential figure at the turn of the century, making an impact on the liveliest artists of the period. The first generation of Futurist painters - those most strongly involved with Marinetti, who signed the Manifesto of 1910 and the subsequent Technical Manifesto - included Boccioni, Carrà, Russolo, Severini and Balla. Romolo Romani and Aroldo Bonzagni withdrew from the movement, after joining the group at the beginning. The Exhibition looks closely at the Manifesto for the Futurist Reconstruction of the Universe, written by Balla and Depero in 1915, under the supervision of Marinetti, a document which declared the aim of achieving "a total fusion in order to reconstruct the Universe making it more joyful, i.e. to recreate it entirely..." and hence proposed that the Futurist aesthetics should be applied to life as a whole. In particular, the exhibition examines the typographic revolution of the period, since Futurism made a deep impact on the language and printing of texts. If the Cubists Picasso and Braque, in 1912, were experimenting with papiers collés -canvasses with objects of various kinds, principally newspapers or letters, the Futurists went one step further, with Boccioni's concept of simultaneous vision. The canvas included compositions of words or plays of lettering, leading to simultaneous concentration and multiple visions of urban mobile landscape: within the canvas sounds, noises and odours were perceived synthetically, which the Cubists did not do. The exhibition also looks at the theatre. The years 1916 - 1918 were important for the Futurists living in Rome: Balla, Prampolini and Depero, leaders of the movement after the tragic death of Boccioni (1916). In Rome they found a new source of experimentation and application of the Futurist Reconstruction of the Universe in the theatre. Friendship with Sergeij Diaghilev, the impresario of the Russian Ballet, was extremely important. At that time he was living in Rome with his entourage of artists, including Larionov, Goncharova, Bakst, Benois, Exter, and the already famous Picasso, who joined Diaghilev in Rome in 1917 to work on Parade, the ballet for which Depero made the Managers costumes. The theatre was an ideal medium for experimentation. With the precious help of his friend Gilbert Clavel, close to the Diaghilev circle and to Cocteau, in 1917 Depero designed the "plastic theatre", in line with the principles of the Futurist global theatre. The show The plastic Ballets by Depero is a mechanical fable with marionettes on strings, in five mimed/musical actions. The stage scenery and wooden marionettes, which replaced conventional actors according a new concept of plastic scenery, were made by Depero and animated by the famous Gorni dell'Acqua puppet company, directed by Podrecca, a well-known artist in the field. The exhibition goes on to compare the "plastic analogies" created by the work of Balla for the Futurist Reconstruction of the Universe, and the "Cubist-Futurist synthesis" of Roberto Iras Baldessari, who was influenced above all by Ardengo Soffici. His painting is an interesting example of one independent branch of the Futurism that took Florence as a home, thanks to the contacts of Soffici with Cubism and Orphism in France and with the best Cubist-Futurist work of Russian artists, most notably Alexandra Exter. In works such as "Spring" (1917) and "La Femme Nue" (1918) the language of Baldessari is half-way between the principles of Futurism following Boccioni and research along synthetic Cubist lines similar to Picasso. Lines-forces, simultaneity of vision and plastic dynamism were constantly subservient to formal construction, influenced by the French painting in general and by the superb lesson of Cézanne. The 1920s saw the transition from Futurism to the twentieth century by the affirmation of the mechanistic poetics. Depero, Prampolini, Diulgeroff were among the leading exponents of the Futurist aesthetics which, at that time, was also being challenged by similar work by the international avant-garde, including the purists Jeannaret and Ozenfant, as well as Léger and Gleizes, and the Russian Suprematists. In line with these theories, but more radical in his focussing on a new cosmic set of symbols , Enrico Prampolini experimented and created "aerial paintings without a trace of terrestrial nostalgia, reaching unknown Universes, and "cosmic drama". The "Novecento" group of Futurist artists came together in 1922 in Milan, under the wing of the art critic Margherita Sarfatti, who exhibited the paintings of artists from different movements in her Pesaro gallery in Milan. Later called the Seven Painters of the Novecento, they included the Futurists Sironi, Dudreville, Funi and the Secessionists and Expressionists Bucci, Oppi, Marussig and Malerba. At the Venice Biennale of 1924 - where the painters exhibited under the name of "Novecento Italiano" , this group was joined by Casorati and Tozzi, closer to the experience of Magical Realism. The exhibition of the permanent collection then turns its attention to three extraordinary artists, many of whose masterpieces are at Mart. Each artist has a room of his own: the cityscapes of Sironi, the metaphysical dialogue of Melotti, and the still life of Morandi. This leads to the 1930s, when Peppino Ghiringhelli exhibited the works of Klee, Kandinsky, Gris and Arp - abstract artists aiming at a new universal artistic language - at the Galleria del Milione in Milan. This group was joined by a small but important group of Italian abstract artists including: Osvaldo Licini, Alberto Magnelli, Fausto Melotti, Bruno Munari and Lucio Fontana. It was a period of immense creativity. Geometry and mathematics were celebrated against any form of subjective expression. In 1935 Carlo Belli wrote the book Kn ("l'evangile de l'art dit abstrait", as Kandinsky called it) putting forward a new aesthetics: "K" was the meeting of form and colour and "n" the number of their infinite combinations. Measure, detachment and serenity, Belli believed, would create an art away from monopolistic tendencies, making Italy a truly European country. After World War II, the creative climate in Italy and the rest of Europe was strongly influenced by the moral imperatives and traumatic experiences of the war. The painting that came closest to expressing this trauma was one which renounced defined forms and allowed the artists to express themselves in deeds. The leading Italian artists of the post-war period were Fontana and Burri who chose different, radical developments of painting .The new poetics included space and matter. The Spatial Concepts of Fontana questioned both space as a real dimension - what we see behind the cuts and tears in the canvas and other supports - and space as a cosmic, transcendental dimension. Space became an "elsewhere" with purely conceptual connotations, as the titles of the works indicate. Burri, on the other hand, used the real objects of the world, from jute bags to iron and plastic sheets to communicate their independent force of expression through the works. The "cretti" in particular demonstrate a specific morphology in the action of matter as it split under drying, in a temporal process which determined the final appearance of the work, which did not depend on the will of the artist. This is followed by the 50s and 60s, a period of great experimental vitality in the arts as a whole, especially in the United States, with movements such as New-Dada. Within this context, artists such as Rauschenberg, Jim Dine and Jasper Johns turned painting into an assembly of heterogeneous elements: the paint surface opened up and was articulated in space, including not only existing images but also everyday objects, such as a bottle of Coca-cola and pipes from a stove. As the height of irony, in 1960 Johns cast 2 bronze beer cans with painted labels. This was just a stone's throw away from American Pop Art - the most important phenomenon in the figurative art in the sixties - with its exploitation of mass culture and its disenchanted revisiting of themes and myths, sometimes ironically and sometimes emphasizing its powerful suggestions. The artists themselves came from the culture industry: Warhol was a shoe designer, Rosenquist made advertising posters, Lichtenstein dressed windows, Oldenburg was a graphic artist and Wesselmann a cartoonist. The exhibition ends with the so-called Minimal Art and Antiform, presented through the works of Robert Morris and Bruce Nauman, and with Arte Povera, an expression used for the first time by the art critic Germano Celant to define the work of Italian artists who, like their international counterparts, wanted to create a new artistic language with the use of materials taken not from artistic tradition but from nature or industry: recycled wood or iron by Kounellis, bundles and putty by Merz, granite by Anselmo, leather by Zorio, lacquered wood by Boetti, neon lighting by Calzolari, and the shattered casts of classic statues used by Paolini. Experimentation continued through the sixties and seventies with the most various trends and the artistic use of non-artistic materials, for example, Salvatore Scarpitta' s works. The exhibition closes with the Panza collection featuring the works of artists such as Roni Horn and Max Cole.


The laboratory of ideas. Images and figures from the 900's
Kurator: Gabriella Belli