After the Second World War, Italy gradually started blooming socially and economically, leading to an unprecedented influx of tourists, immigrants, and short-term residents mostly those coming from North America. During the 1950s and 1960s, a significant number of artists visited or even moved to Italy, Cy Twombly and Robert Rauschenberg being the most influential for the local art scene.
Several exhibitions occurred, as well as significant encounters with the leading Italian contemporary artists such as Alberto Burri or Pino Pascali. After Rauschenberg won the International Grand Prize in Painting at the Venice Biennale in 1964, it was clear that a historic shift happened as Europe, the former artistic center of the world, lost power and the United States became the new, leading global force in the art world from the 1950s onwards.
To revisit this important piece of history in the seductive, yet largely disoriented post-war Italy, Luxembourg + Co., London decided to host an exhibition Lost in Italy curated by former Venice Biennale curator Francesco Bonami.
The upcoming survey tends to revisit the spirit of internationalism and the interesting wave of interactions that resulted in such a fruitful art production. One of the most breaking moments was Richard Serra’s first solo exhibition that took place in Rome in 1966 at the Galleria La Salita; under the title Animal Habitats: Live and Stuffed, it included live animals in the gallery and had a tremendous influence on the development of the Italian Arte Povera movement.
The show will look into the exchanges between Robert Rauschenberg and Alberto Burri, the exploration of writing and calligraphy in a painting by Cy Twombly and Jannis Kounellis, the sculptural study of animal forms found in the works of Pino Pascali and Richard Serra.
These relationships and their implications on the contemporary art world and art market will be thoroughly explored in form of an open dialogue, between pairs of artists and constellations of artworks, to underline the dominating stylistic, technical, and ideological tendencies found in the works by Italian artists and their European and American contemporaries.
Along with the works of the mentioned artists, the visitors will be able to see as well the works by Alexander Calder, Francis Bacon, Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray, Salvatore Scarpitta, and Yves Klein, and a recent work by the contemporary Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan, which will be displayed on the building’s façade, visible to passers-by.
Hopefully, the upcoming exhibition will offer different interpretations of these 1950s and 1960s Italo-American and Italo-European liaisons that easily could have been a battleground, a love story, or a game of Chinese whispers.
Lost in Italy will be on display at Luxembourg + Co. in London from 6 May until 3 July 2021.
Featured image: Alberto Burri - Nero Plastica L.A., 1963. Plastic (PE), synthetic polymer paint, and Vinavil on fabric 53.4 x 78 in. (133 x 198 cm.). Private Collection. Courtesy of Luxembourg + Co. © Fondazione Palazzo Albizzini Collezione Burri, Città di Castello (Perugia) / DACS 2021. All images courtesy Luxembourg + Co.