Mario Schifano: The Rise of the '60s

September 14, 2023
January 8, 2024
2700 Route 9 Cold Spring, NY 10516
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Mario Schifano, ‘Particolare di propaganda,’ 1960s ca. Olnick Spanu Collection, New York.

On view through January 8, 2024, Mario Schifano: The Rise of the ‘60s is the first major survey of work from the 1960s and 70s by the Roman painter born in Libya. On view will be eighty works, the great majority on loan from international collections, including twelve from Fondazione Maurizio Calvesi Collection that have never been exhibited before.

Organized by Magazzino Italian Art in collaboration with the Archivio Mario Schifano and curated by Alberto Salvadori, the exhibition is presented on the sixtieth anniversary of Schifano’s first visit to the United States—a turning point in his career—and includes works from the beginning of the 1960s made in homage to Italy’s painters of commercial billboards. With their painterly play on the logos of companies such as Coca-Cola and Esso, these works represent a parallel, independent development to American Pop Art. Also on view are series including his monochromes, emulsion canvases dedicated to TV Landscapes, and photographs from a road trip in the United States.

While keenly attuned to the currents of the moment (as acknowledged by the title Rise of the ‘60s, inspired by a book by art historian Thomas Crow), Schifano also drew continually from, and commented on, the historic work of artists including Giacomo Balla, Umberto Boccioni, Leonardo da Vinci, Piero della Francesca and Kazimir Malevich. For Schifano, painting was a form of wandering, in which he brought together his encounters with art history, photography, current events, love and sex: or tutto (everything), as he titled one of his paintings. His work was an all-encompassing practice that reflected both his own energies and the zeal of a generation of writers, poets, and intellectuals.

The exhibition will be accompanied by the publication Mario Schifano: The Rise of the ‘60s, curated by Alberto Salvadori, Lara Conte, and Francesco Guzzetti with texts by Alberto Salvadori, Andrea Cortellessa, Claire Gilman, Daniela Lancioni, Francesco Guzzetti, Giorgia Gastaldon, Giuliana Bruno, Lara Conte, Luciano Chessa, Raphael Rubinstein, Riccardo Venturi, and Stefano Chiodi.

About Mario Schifano

Mario Schifano (born in Homs, Libya in 1934; died in Rome, Italy in 1998), made his first important appearance with the exhibition Five Roman painters: Angeli, Festa, Lo Savio, Schifano, and Uncini, presented by Pierre Restany in 1960 at the Galleria La Salita in Rome. He attracted critics’ interest with his monochrome paintings, which evoked the feeling of a screen and displayed numbers, letters, road signs, and the Esso and Coca Cola trademarks. He signed an exclusive contract with Ileana Sonnabend and then in 1962 made his first trip to the United States, where he was struck by the work of artists such as Dine and Kline. He spent a great deal of time with Frank O’Hara, Jasper Johns, Rothko, Andy Warhol and Gregory Corso and exhibited at the Sidney Janis Gallery in New York in the exhibition The New Realists.

After solo exhibitions in Rome, Paris, and Milan, he returned to the United States where he received much attention from the press, winning several awards including the Premio Lissone (Lissone 1961), the Fiorino award and La Nuova Figurazione (Florence, 1963). In 1963, he ended his collaboration with Ileana Sonnabend who had been surprised by the drastic shift in the artist’s practice in contrast to his earlier work. His later work contains many references to earlier periods in Italian art history. The first of his “Anemic Landscapes” came out of this period and he presented it at the Venice Biennale Exhibition in 1964 upon invitation. The first short films he created, shot in black and white and for the most part silent, come from this period as well.

He started his exclusive collaboration with Giorgio Marconi which continued until the end of the 1970s. He participated in international collective exhibitions including events at the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh in 1964, and in 1965 at the San Marino and Sao Paulo of Brazil Biennial exhibitions, as well as the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo.

In 1967–1969 he presented the feature film Anna Carini vista in agosto dalle farfalle at Studio Marconi in Milan, which was followed by the trilogy of films, Satellite, Umano non umano, and Trapianto – Consunzione e morte di Franco Brocani.

He took part in a collective exhibition at the Galleria La Salita in Rome where he did not exhibit paintings but projected photograms on the Vietnam War.

An ideological and existential crisis forced him into periods of isolation in his studio where he created works reinterpreting Magritte, De Chirico, Boccioni, Cézanne, and Picabia. He remade his works of the ‘60s in the Sintetico dall’inventario series.

About Alberto Salvadori

Alberto Salvadori graduated from the University of Pisa with a degree in Art History. He earned a postgraduate specialization in History of Modern and Contemporary Art of European Countries. He studied at Sussex University and Reading University. In 2001, Salvadori obtained a second level Master’s degree in Curatorial Studies at the Brera Academy of Fine Arts in Milan. From 2003 to 2009, he was the curator of the general catalogue of the Galleria d’Arte Moderna Palazzo Pitti in Florence. Since 2009 to 2016, he has been the Director of Marino Marini Museum in Florence, and from 2007 to 2020, the Director of OAC by Fondazione CR Firenze. Salvadori has served on boards at several institutions, including Istituzione Musei Civici Bologna, Polimoda Florence, Fondazione Ragghianti Lucca, and the Italian Council Committee Rome. Salvadori is the Founder and Director of ICA Milano, the Curator of Decades at MIART Milano, an editor of a series of books at Fondazione Marconi Milano, the curatorial consultant of The Olnick Spanu Collection, and a board member of Magazzino Italian Art Foundation and Fondazione Pomodoro Milano. Some of his curatorial project include: Giorgio Morandi, Marino Marini, Fausto Melotti, Giò Ponti, Pietro Consagra, James Lee Byars, Lynn Chadwick, Francesco Lo Savio, Mario Schifano, Radical Utopias: Architecture 1966–1976, Beyond Performances: Mario Garcia Torres, Cally Spooner, Opaviparà, Hans Josephshon, Simone Forti, Charles Atlas, Miriam Cahn, Liam Gillick, Andrea Zittel, Simone Fattal, Michael Anastassiades, Deimantas Narkevicius, Jonathas De Andrade, Silke Otto Knapp, Massimo Bartolini, Pablo Bronstein.


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