Roma London Paris
14 February - 18 April 2004
ROMA Franco Angeli, Gianfranco Baruchello, Enrico Castellani, Mario Ceroli, Tano Festa, Renato Mambor, Mimmo Rotella, Mario Schifano.
LONDON Peter Blake, Gilbert & Gorge, Richard Hamilton, David Hockey, Allen Jones, Peter Phillips, Richard Smith, Joe Tilson.
PARIS Arman, César, Christo, François Dufrêne, Raymond Hains, Alain Jacquet, Daniel Spoerri, Jacques Villeglé.
Rome London Paris brought together the works of twenty-six artists working in the three European capitals since the 1950s, showing a mixture of styles, situations and moments. Despite seeming to be a fun accumulation of clashing works, its aim was instead to try to give an idea of the state of art in the three European capitals after they had dispatched – by wiping out painting on one-tone surfaces – with the Art Informel, by now the accepted style, from the immediate aftermath of the war.
In each of these areas, the new generations were affected by the climate that was coming into being; that is, the new technological, consumer society: electrical appliances were becoming part of everyday life, causing far-reaching changes to living conditions.
This moment in art has often been associated with the term Pop Art, indicating the reference paid by “cultured” art to popular culture and the images put across by the new means of mass media. But since they were partaking of such diverse socio-economic areas, each artist came to work in a different way, according to how they felt. This was also due to their own deep-seated cultural and artistic traditions that they had to come to terms with.
Through their own languages, these authors uprooted Informel painting and its existential, introspective hallmarks and devotion to gestures and matter. The result was either the abandonment, a priori, of painting by reviving materials and objects taken from the outside, in the tradition of Dadaism and Duchamp, sometimes by salvaging Cubist-derived collage; or making painting a cold, metallic medium with which to recapture the elements of everyday reality.
In Europe the term Pop could only be used with a precise meaning for British artists, who had been working in London since as early as the mid-1950s (Paolozzi, Hamilton). This exhibition presented some artists who started to revolve around the Royal College at the end of that decade, following the Pop trend launched by Richard Hamilton in the famous Collage presented in 1956 at the This is Tomorrow exhibition at the Whitechapel Art Gallery, up to Gilbert & George’s conceptual photography.
For Rome, the exhibition fundamentally started from the so-called “Scuola di Piazza del Popolo”, including Castellani and Baruchello who represent opposite directions in the overcoming of painting from the inside.
For Paris the exhibition concentrated on some of the artists who gathered around the Nouveaux Réalistes label coined by Pierre Restany in 1960 – on occasion of the exhibition held in Milan at the Galleria Apollinaire – that had brought together, in addition to the French décollage artists, plus Rotella, a group of artists who worked on retrieved materials and assemblage.
There is no single glue holding these artists together, but they are each connected by endless, inextricable points of contact. Operating in the three European capitals from the end of the 1950s - start of the 1960s, and linked by a complex international situation of continual and mutual cultural exchanges, they worked Per il felice clima degli anni Sessanta, to use the title of a 1968 painting by Tano Festa.