Guglielmo Achille Cavellini, Theater of Self-Historicism, 1970s (detail) - Courtesy Archivio Cavellini

Guglielmo Achille Cavellini

Italy 1914 - 1990

Sculpture, Neo-dada, Mail Art

Guglielmo Achille Cavellini
Guglielmo Achille Cavellini
December 16, 2015

Guglielmo Achille Cavellini, also known as GAC, was an Italian artist and art collector, best known for his art of self-historification. Born in Brescia, Italy in 1914, Cavellini gave context to the Italian Experimentation period and was one of the first artists to link together post-war Italian art with American Pop Art. Apart from his early paintings and sculptures, the artist also remained known for his invented memoirs, imaginary art history texts, and fabricated correspondence with historical figures.

Art of Guglielmo Achille Cavellini

Left Guglielmo Achille Cavellini - Europa, 1970, Right Guglielmo Achille Cavellini - Italia II (Italy II), 1970
Left: Guglielmo Achille Cavellini – Europa, 1970 / Right: Guglielmo Achille Cavellini – Italia II (Italy II), 1970

During the 1940s and 1950s, Cavellini became one of the major collectors of contemporary Italian abstract art, acquiring paintings from new emerging cutting-edge artists. This new interest of his was possible with the money derived from the family business – he possessed a successful chain of grocery stores in Italy, called 333. By 1962, Cavellini’s collection included works by Rothko, Rauschenberg, Vasarely, San Francis, Toby, Jean Dubuffet, Hans Hartung, Alberto Burri, Lucio Fontana, and many others.

Cavellini’s Mail Art

Left Guglielmo Achille Cavellini - Il trono del pavone, 1977, Right Guglielmo Achille Cavellini - Francobollo Italia - autoritratto (Italy - self-portrait stamp), 1987
Left: Guglielmo Achille Cavellini – Il trono del pavone, 1977 / Right: Guglielmo Achille Cavellini – Francobollo Italia – autoritratto (Italy – self-portrait stamp), 1987

In the early 1960s, Cavellini continued his activity as an artist, producing works spanning from neo-dada to performance art to mail art. At first, he created artworks in the manner of Dadaist movement, experimenting with various materials such as imprints of leaves, enamel, blotting paper, collages, toilet paper and razor blades.

In 1971, Guglielmo Cavellini coined the term autostoricizzazione (translated as self-historification), upon which he acted to create a deliberate popular history through self-promotion. Through a series of self-produced books, performances, portraits, novelty items, and voluminous correspondence, the artist’s art of self-historification was based on the idea that no one knew the artist better than himself.

Informazione – a diagram of beef cuts labeled with the names of modern artists

Guglielmo Achille Cavellini - Informazione, c. 1970, courtesy of MoMA Library
Guglielmo Achille Cavellini – Informazione, c. 1970, courtesy of MoMA Library

During his career, Cavellini’s influence was present all over the international art community. He was renowned and celebrated in massive programs, exhibitions, and performance festivals throughout the world – in Japan, Belgium, Hungary, the United States, and elsewhere.

Until the end of his life, Guglielmo continued to produce self-portraits incorporating artworks of the past, connecting himself to the great artists who preceded and influenced him. His works are now represented by Wunderkammern Gallery, located in Rome.

Guglielmo Achille Cavellini died in November 1990.

Featured image – Theater of Self-Historicism, 1970s (detail) – Courtesy Archivio Cavellini
Third image – Informazione, c. 1970, courtesy of MoMA Library
Other images courtesy of Wunderkammern Gallery

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group
2013Guglielmo Achille CavelliniLinch Tham Gallery, New York USASolo
2013Novecento mai vistoMuseo di Santa Giulia, BresciaGroup
2013L’arte è un romanzoPalazzo della Penna PerugiaGroup
2013Parole, Parole, ParoleMuseo Pecci, MilanoGroup
2012GAC in Back to the futureArtissima ToSolo
2012Palabra, Imàgenes y otros textosMuseo de Arte Moderno de Buenos AiresGroup
2012AutoritrattiLucie Fontaine MilanoGroup
2012EstateGalleria Marianne Boesky New YorkGroup
2011Guglielmo Achille CavelliniLucie Fontaine, MilanoSolo
2011Prefigure, con Tomaso BingaWunderkammern, RomaSolo
2011Guglielmo Achille CavelliniPietra & Co., SirmioneSolo
2011Guglielmo Achille CavelliniKen Damy Fine Art, BresciaSolo
2011Italia, ItalieComune di Castelvetro di ModenaGroup
2010Mostra AntologicaSpazio Contemporanea, BresciaSolo
2009Guglielmo Achille CavelliniMuseo Ken Damy, BresciaSolo
2009Guglielmo Achille CavelliniArtetivu’ Show Room, MilanoSolo
2009Futurismo: avanguardia delle avanguardie 1909-2009Studio 2B Boggiarte, Centro Internazionale Arti Visive, BergamoGroup
2009Guglielmo Achille Cavellini: Dalla Pagina dell’Enciclopedia, Armadio scritto, 1973Fiera di Orzinuovi, BresciaGroup
2009Art of LifeTriennale di MilanoGroup
2008Guglielmo Achille CavelliniGalleria Fabbrica Eos, MilanoSolo
2008Guglielmo Achille CavelliniFlorence Lynch Gallery, New York, USASolo
2008Guglielmo Achille CavelliniTempio Ducale della SS. Anunziata, CamerinoSolo
2008Guglielmo Achille CavelliniMuseo Ken Damy, BresciaSolo
2008Guglielmo Achille CavelliniAR.RI.VI, MilanoSolo
2008Group ShowLerimonti Gallery, MilanoGroup
2007Guglielmo Achille CavelliniMuseo Ken Damy, BresciaSolo
2007Guglielmo Achille CavelliniShow Room Artetivù, MarconSolo
2007Group ShowLa parola nell’arte MART, RoveretoGroup
2006Guglielmo Achille CavelliniGalleria Orler, Cortina d’AmpezzoSolo
2006Guglielmo Achille CavelliniMuseo Ken Damy, BresciaSolo
2006Primo pianoMuseo Pecci di PratoGroup
2006DADADA - Dada e Dadaismi del contemporaneo 1916-2006Castello Visconteo, PaviaGroup
2005TransformerMuseo Ken Damy, BresciaSolo
2005Sul filo della lanaMuseo del Territorio, BiellaGroup
2005Poesia oggetoMuseo di Castelvetro, ModenaGroup
2005Rifiuto, Riusato ad arteComunità Montana di Valle SabbiaGroup
2004Guglielmo Achille CavelliniMuseo Ken Damy, Brescia. Analogie Solo
2004Ipermercati dell’Arte: il consumo ironizzatoSanta Maria della Scala, SienaGroup
2003Guglielmo Achille CavelliniKen Damy Fine Art, BresciaSolo
2002Guglielmo Achille CavelliniGalleria Fabbrica Eos, MilanoSolo
2002Guglielmo Achille CavelliniKen Damy Fine Art, BresciaSolo
2002Natura eArchivio Cavellini, BresciaGroup
2002Group ShowGalleria Martano TorinoGroup
2001Guglielmo Achille CavelliniVilla Glisenti, Villa Carcina, BSSolo
2001Guglielmo Achille CavelliniIstituto Italiano di Cultura, Prague, Czech RepublicSolo
2001Guglielmo Achille CavelliniMuseo Ken Damy, Palazzo Bonoris, BresciaSolo
2001INTERZONEArchivio Cavellini, BresciaGroup
2000Guglielmo Achille CavelliniComune di Cormons, GOSolo
2000Guglielmo Achille CavelliniComune di Volta Mantovana, MNSolo
2000Guglielmo Achille CavelliniCastello di Rivara, TOSolo
2000Guglielmo Achille CavelliniScuola Elementare di Calcinatello, BSSolo
2000Guglielmo Achille CavelliniMuseo Ken Damy, BresciaSolo
2000Guglielmo Achille CavelliniArchivio Cavellini, BresciaSolo
2000Group ShowCentro Fiera Montichiari, BSGroup
2000Group ShowComune di Trenzano, BSGroup
2000Dn ArtPalazzoDurini, MilanoGroup
2000Group ShowII Biennale del libro d’artista, Marliana, PTGroup
2000Sentieri interrottiBassano del Grappa, VIGroup
2000AutoritrattoArchivio Cavellini, BresciaGroup
2000Brescia da PrimatoPalazzo Bonoris, BresciaGroup
1999Guglielmo Achille CavelliniSala delle colonne, Municipio di Botticino, BSSolo
1999Guglielmo Achille CavelliniGalleria Spaziotemporaneo, MilanoSolo
1999Guglielmo Achille CavelliniPalazzo dei Congressi, Comune di Cavalese,TNSolo
1999Guglielmo Achille CavelliniMuseo Ken Damy, BresciaSolo
1999Guglielmo Achille CavelliniGalleria Peccolo, LivornoSolo
1999Il linguaggio del corpoLuciano Inga Pin, MilanoGroup
1999QuadrantiGalleria Cancelliere, MessinaGroup
1999Da Cezanne alla New AgeAkropolis, BresciaGroup
1999Group ShowComune di Pianella, PescaraGroup
1998Wella ItaliaCastiglione delle Stiviere, MantovaSolo
1998Di là dal fiume tra gli alberiConcesio, BresciaSolo
1998Guglielmo Achille CavelliniMuseo Ken Damy, BresciaSolo
1998Guglielmo Achille CavelliniExpo Arte, Montichiari, BresciaSolo
1998Guglielmo Achille CavelliniTeatro Nuovo Giovanni da Udine, UdineSolo
1998Dal colpo di dadi alla poesia visualPalazzo della Ragione, MNGroup
1998EscatologicaPalazzo Comunale, SienaGroup
1998GhostsLe Consortium, Dijon, FGroup
1997Guglielmo Achille CavelliniSarenco Club Art Gallery, VeronaSolo
1997Guglielmo Achille CavelliniPassage Ierimonti, MilanoSolo
1997Guglielmo Achille CavelliniMuseo Ken Damy, BresciaSolo
1997Donna com’eri donnaGalleria San Michele, BresciaGroup
1997L’invasione degli ultracorpiEx chiesa di Santa Rita, RomaGroup
1997GrammaticheSolferino, MNGroup
1997Dadaismo-DadaismiPalazzo Forti, VeronaGroup
1996Guglielmo Achille CavelliniArchivio Cavellini, BresciaSolo
1996Guglielmo Achille CavelliniMuseo Ken Damy, BresciaSolo
1996Group ShowIerimonti Gallery, MilanoGroup
1996Group ShowGaleotto fu il libro, Il mercato del pesce, Sesto S. Giovanni, MIGroup
1996Group ShowEsperienze di Arte a Brescia, AAB, BresciaGroup
1995Guglielmo Achille CavelliniComune di Pesaro, Sala Lariana, Ex chiesa della MaddalenaSolo
1995Guglielmo Achille CavelliniMuseo Ken Damy, BresciaSolo
1995Guglielmo Achille CavelliniStamp Art Gallery, San Francisco, USASolo
1995PhotocollagesLe Consortium, Dijon, FGroup
1994Guglielmo Achille CavelliniSlovenska Vytarna Unia, Bratislava, SlovacchiaSolo
1994Guglielmo Achille CavelliniMuseo Ken Damy, BresciaSolo
1994Guglielmo Achille CavelliniComune di Sirmione, Palazzo CivicoSolo
1993Guglielmo Achille CavelliniFondazione Mudima, MilanoSolo
1993Guglielmo Achille CavelliniMusei Civici di RiminiSolo
1993Guglielmo Achille CavelliniMuseo Ken Damy, BresciaSolo
1993Chiesa del CarmineAssociazione Quadra IV, BresciaSolo
1993Guglielmo Achille CavelliniMuzeum Moderného Umenia Warholovcov, Medzilaborce, SlovacchiaSolo
1993Elogio della PlasticaVilla Brunati, Comune di Desenzano del Garda, BSGroup
1993Pagine-libriComune di Maderno, BresciaGroup
1993Group ShowMano d’Artista, Sincron, BresciaGroup
1993Arte PortatileIl mercato del Pesce, Sesto S. Giovanni, MIGroup
1993Group ShowPremio Vasto, VastoGroup
1992Il genio è mortoEspace, TorinoSolo
1992Guglielmo Achille CavelliniMuseo Ken Damy, BresciaSolo
1992Group ShowGalerie Saqqarah, Gstaad, CHGroup
1992Group ShowGallerie Montaigne, Paris, FGroup
1991Guglielmo Achille CavelliniGalerie Air de Paris, Nice, FSolo
1991Guglielmo Achille CavelliniArt Box, Sala Estense, CarpiSolo
1991Cavellini dayMuseo Ken Damy, BresciaSolo
1991Group ShowCivica Raccolta del Disegno, Salò, BSGroup
1991Group ShowAir de Paris a Paris, Paris, FGroup
1990Guglielmo Achille CavelliniGalleria Piero Cavellini, BresciaSolo
1990Guglielmo Achille CavelliniArtestudio, Pontenossa, BGSolo
1990Effetto Man RayMuseo Ken Damy, BresciaGroup
1989Pagine-libriGalleria Piero Cavellini, BresciaGroup
1989Non solo libriMilan Art Center, MilanoGroup
1988Guglielmo Achille CavelliniGalerie M, Wilhelmshaven, DSolo
1988L’autoritratto come non ritrattoEnte Fiera, BolognaGroup
1988Artisti Italiani del XX secoloLima, PerùGroup
1987Guglielmo Achille CavelliniMetropolitan Museum, Tokyo, JSolo
1986Guglielmo Achille CavelliniGalleria Hovara Arte, TorinoSolo
1986Guglielmo Achille CavelliniMagazzini Kintetsu, Osaka, JSolo
1986Guglielmo Achille CavelliniGallery 360°. Yokyo, JSolo
1985Guglielmo Achille CavelliniKen Damy Photogallery, MilanoSolo
1985Guglielmo Achille CavelliniGalerie Prutt, Minden, DSolo
1985Kunsan International ShowInstitute of contemporary art, Runjan, KoreaGroup
1984Guglielmo Achille CavelliniModern Realism Presents, Dallas, USASolo
1984Guglielmo Achille CavelliniNucleo Arte, BolognaSolo
1984International culture exchangeSalon de Tokyo, Tokyo, JGroup
1983Guglielmo Achille CavelliniIngeborg Hiel, Graz, ASolo
1983Guglielmo Achille CavelliniGallery 360°, Tokyo, JSolo
1982Inseguendo la parolaRocca Comunale, Reggiolo, REGroup
1982II Manifeste du livre d’artistCentre G. Pompidou, Paris, FGroup
1982Festival of artGemeente Museum, Arnhem, NLGroup
1982PrivacyComune di Gavirate, VAGroup
1982Triennale International drawingWroclaw. PLGroup
1982Relics and documents of the avant-gardeModern Realism Gallery, Dallas, USAGroup
1981Guglielmo Achille CavelliniGalleria Cinquetti, VeronaSolo
1981MetronomonArtist’s Books, Barcelona, EGroup
1980Video arte a Palazzo dei DiamantiCamera di Commercio, TorinoGroup
1980Contact from contemplation to agitationKrakow, Wroklaw, PLGroup
1980Singlossie ottantaLiceo Calini, BresciaGroup
1979Guglielmo Achille CavelliniGalleria UNDE, TorinoSolo
1979Guglielmo Achille CavelliniSalone della Camera di Commercio, CarraraSolo
1979Guglielmo Achille CavelliniGaleria Jatki, Wroklaw PLSolo
1979Mona Lisa nel XX secoloTokyo, Osaka, Sapporo, JGroup
1979Le parole e le immaginiRotonda della Befana, MilanoGroup
1979Nouvelles tendences italiennesCentre D’action Culturelle, Macon, FGroup
1978Guglielmo Achille CavelliniCenter Spinnerel, Nussbaumen, CHSolo
1978Group ShowAtelier Bonanova, Madrid, EGroup
1978Elements of drawingGaleria Studio, Warsaw, PLGroup
1978Mona LisaMuseum der Stadt, Duisburg, DGroup
1978Black on WhiteLa casa del siglo XV, Segovia EGroup
1978PostKartenStaatlicher Kunsthandel der DDR, Galerie Arcade, Berlin, DGroup
1978ObjektbucherKunstlerhaus, Stuttgart, DGroup
1978Group ShowGalerija Nova, Zagreb, JGroup
1978Group ShowMuseo Laboratorio Casa Bianca, Malo, VIGroup
1977Guglielmo Achille CavelliniGalleria La Nuova Città, BresciaSolo
1977Guglielmo Achille CavelliniParachute Center, Calgary, CanadaSolo
1977Guglielmo Achille CavelliniWestern Front, Vancouver, CanadaSolo
1977Guglielmo Achille CavelliniGaleria Lodz, PLSolo
1977Guglielmo Achille CavelliniGalerie S.T. Petri, Lund, SSolo
1977Group ShowKruithuis Den Bosch, NLGroup
1977Group ShowGalerie Nationale, Ottawa, CanadaGroup
1977Group ShowArtist Product Gallery, New York, USAGroup
1976Guglielmo Achille CavelliniGaleria Sztukildk, Lublin, PLSolo
1976Guglielmo Achille CavelliniStudentski Kulturni Centrar, Beograd, YUSolo
1976Guglielmo Achille CavelliniStudio De Ambrogi, MilanoSolo
1976Guglielmo Achille CavelliniSalon Kmpik Koszalin, Luty, PLSolo
1976Guglielmo Achille CavelliniGaleria Nova, Zagreb, YUSolo
1976Guglielmo Achille CavelliniGeleria Pryzmat, Krakow, PLSolo
1976Malen-Schreiben-MalenGalerie Hans Mayer, Dusseldorf, DGroup
1976InformazioneStudio De Ambrogi, MilanoGroup
1976Concetto scritturaGalleria Diagramma-Inga Pin, MilanoGroup
1976Festival de la Photo et de l’imageVallèe de la Marne, FGroup
1976Self-portraitKunsthaus Fichinger, Stuttgart, DGroup
1976Arte ambienteGiardini di Rebuffone, BresciaGroup
1975Guglielmo Achille CavelliniGalleria Banco, BresciaSolo
1975Guglielmo Achille CavelliniGalleria Nuovi Strumenti, BresciaSolo
1975Guglielmo Achille CavelliniGaleria Wspolczesna, Warsaw, PLSolo
1975Art information festivalMiddelburg, Vleeshal, NLGroup
1975Photographers-PaintersGalleria Nuovi Strumenti, BresciaGroup
1974Guglielmo Achille CavelliniAgora studio, Maastricht, NLSolo
1974Guglielmo Achille CavelliniVisual Art Center, NapoliSolo
1973Guglielmo Achille CavelliniGalleria La Bertesca, GenovaSolo
1973Guglielmo Achille CavelliniPalazzo dei Diamanti, FerraraSolo
1972Guglielmo Achille CavelliniGalleria La Lanterna, TriesteSolo
1972Guglielmo Achille CavelliniGalleria Cenobio Visualità, MilanoSolo
1972Guglielmo Achille CavelliniAktions Galerie, Bern CHSolo
1972Guglielmo Achille CavelliniKataKombe Galerie, Basel CHSolo
1972Guglielmo Achille CavelliniGalerie Impact, Lausanne CHSolo
1972La pazzia della ragioneGalleria Cenobio Visualità, MilanoGroup
1972Perché l’ironia?Camera di commercio, CasertaGroup
1972A proposito del neroGalleria Cenobio Visualità, MilanoGroup
1971Guglielmo Achille CavelliniGalleria Il Salotto, ComoSolo
1971Guglielmo Achille CavelliniGalleria Toninelli, RomaSolo
1971Guglielmo Achille CavelliniGalleria Flori, FirenzeSolo
1971D’aprèsMuseo Civico di Villa Ciani, Lugano, CHGroup
1970Guglielmo Achille CavelliniGalleria Toninelli, MilanoSolo
1970Group ShowGalleria Acme, BresciaGroup
1969Group ShowI giorni di Pejo, Pejo, TNGroup
1967Dimensioni del realeGalleria Zen, BresciaGroup
1965Guglielmo Achille CavelliniGalleria Apollinaire, MilanoSolo