1942 - 1997 Thirty-five works by
curated by Bruno Corà, Ilaria Bernardi
GALLERIA IL PONTE FIRENZE 23_11_18 > 9_02_19
opening: friday 23 november, h 6 pm
Galleria Il Ponte is presenting a wide-ranging exhibition dedicated to the artist Carol Rama (1918- 2015) whose non-conformist, totally self-taught work emerged in the artistic and cultural context of 1930s and 40s Turin. Her art went on to span the whole century, until the early years of the new millennium, with the same passion and vitality as the start.
With a selection of around 36 works made from 1942 to 1997, the exhibition traces Carol Rama’s endless experimentation of techniques, materials and iconographic subjects from the key moments in her life and artistic career.
Starting with early drawings and etchings on paper of the 1940s linked to Surrealism, Dubuffet and Art Brut, which already show great maturity of technique and ideas, the show goes on to include some rare works from the 1950s that bear witness to Carol Rama’s abstract experience within the Turinese group MAC (Movimento d’Arte Concreta).
The works from the 1960s instead document a decisive switch in her modus operandi: everyday objects such as medical instruments, metal shavings, dolls’ eyes that themselves become form and colour are applied to stains of colour of Informel inspiration.
A large group of works on display dates from the 1970s when her compositions started to include the two non-pictorial materials which Carol Rama is best known for: inner tubes and rubber tyres, used instead of colour and applied to the canvas or hung on it with a metal hook.
The exhibition is rounded off by important pieces made during the 1980s and 90s emblematic of her deliberate and wholehearted return to figuration. Bodies, false teeth, tongues, genital organs, shoes inhabited by phalluses, fantastic figures and animals, drawn on printed paper – often using technical drawings by architects and engineers as the background – express Carol Rama’s perennial desire to blend art, life and imagination, confirming what she revealed to Lea Vergine in 1985: “I’ve always loved objects and situations that were thrown away and rejected”, indeed “back then, it was almost compulsory to create a scandal around me”.
The exhibition is accompanied by a portfolio with texts and images, with a critical essay by Bruno Corà and further information on the works on display by Ilaria Bernardi.
Carol Olga Rama, better known as Carol Rama, was born in Turin in 1918. She started to paint when she was still a teenager. Self-taught, she was stimulated by frequenting important figures on the cultural scene in Turin, Italy and the world, amongst whom Felice Casorati, Edoardo Sanguineti, Massimo Mila, Albino Galvano, Carlo Mollino, Paolo Fossati, Carlo Monzino, Luciano Berio, Eugenio Montale, Andy Warhol and Man Ray.
Following distressing family episodes, including her mother’s psychiatric treatment and her father’s probable suicide, her art became a way of letting go of her inner suffering and fears.
After initially approaching Surrealist visions, then Dubuffet and Art Brut, she followed the abstract research of the MAC (Movimento d’Arte Concreta) in the early 1950s and the objet trouvé trend in the 1960s and 70s. Up to the most recent series of works (her last work was from 2007), she went on to develop a totally personal, independent path, using different materials, topics and styles to express her dream-like universe featuring provocative images suspended between transgression, eccentricity, autobiography and explicit erotism.
Her first solo exhibition, at Galleria Faber in Turin, dates from 1945 (legend has it that it was closed down by the police for obscenity). This was followed by numerous other exhibition opportunities in private galleries in Turin, principally at Galleria La Bussola (1957, 1959, 1960, 1971), around Italy (amongst which: Galleria Luciano Anselmino, Milan 1976; Galleria Dell'Oca, Rome 1987; Galleria Sprovieri, Rome 1994-95) and abroad (including: Galerie Le Lutrin, Lyon 1966; Esso Gallery, New York 1997; Galerie Anne de Villepoix, Paris 2002; Galerie Isabella Bortolozzi, Berlin 2009, 2012). After taking part in the touring exhibition on the great artists of the twentieth century, L’altra metà. dell’avanguardia, curated by Lea Vergine, displaying some watercolours from the end of the 1930s (presented for the first time in 1979 at Galleria Martano in Turin), in 1985 she obtained her first large anthological exhibition in a public space at the Sagrato del Duomo in Milan, organized by Achille Castiglioni and curated by the same Lea Vergine. This exhibition, together with the personal exhibition at the 45th Venice Biennale in 1993 curated by Achille Bonito Oliva and mounted by Corrado Levi, and the anthological exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam in 1998 (then at the ICA in Boston) curated by Maria Cristina Mundici, won her fame at international level.
Her great public accolade arrived in 2003 with the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement, awarded on occasion of the 50th Venice Biennale, followed by the prestigious President of the Republic Prize awarded to her by Giorgio Napolitano in 2010. Important anthological and retrospective exhibitions have also been dedicated to her work, amongst which the great anthological exhibition curated by Guido Curto at the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo in 2004 (then at Mart in Rovereto and at the Baltic Museum in Gateshead), in 2008 the anthological exhibition at the Palazzo Ducale in Genoa curated by Marco Vallora, and more recently the touring exhibition “The Passion According to Carol Rama” (2015-16) presented at the Museu d’Art Contemporani in Barcelona, the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, the Espoo Museum of Modern Art in Finland, the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin, and the Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea in Turin.
Her international fame was then consolidated in 2017 thanks to the important exhibition dedicated to her at the New Museum in New York, curated by Helga Christoffersen and Massimiliano Gioni, two years after her death on 24 September 2015, at the age of 97, in her home-studio in Via Napione.