Ida Panicelli

  • Ettore Colla

    Bellonae et Musis Theatrum” (Theater of Bellona and the Muses), begins the dedication on the frieze above the stage of the monumental Teatro Farnese (1619) in Parma, where this show of work by Ettore Colla (1896–1968) was installed. I don’t know if the curators were aware how surprisingly well the show’s contents adhered to that dedication. Both Bellona, the goddess of war, and the Muses seem to have inspired Colla, who was drawn equally to the aggressive culture of iron and the fascination for an archaic mythology.

    Colla’s first abstract sculptures, made from iron scraps, appeared in the mid

  • Quadriennale d’Arte

    Imagine a sideshow tent in an amusement park and a barker calling, “Visit the house of the Mermaids, the Cat-men, and the Monkey-women. You’ll discover the secret marvels of nature. The chill of the unbelievable!” Rome’s XI Quadriennale d’Arte (which by a scornful stroke of fate was mounted this year in the vicinity of the city’s largest amusement park) could similarly have announced, “Visit the biggest art show in town. You’ll find the greatest artists of the last 30 years. You’ll learn the true story of contemporary art!”

    Nothing could have been less true. The disappointment one experienced

  • Frank Auerbach

    Frank Auerbach’s 24 oil paintings and 8 drawings on display in the British Pavilion were done between 1977 and 1985. Their repetition of the same subjects and a coherent pictorial form testifies to the tenacity with which the artist has developed his formal language. The theme of the human figure is brought to the limits of representability, while Auerbach’s method of working is brought to the limits of obsession.

    The faces and busts portrayed appear deformed in a superficially expressionistic manner. What actually lends some validity to this construction of form is an untamed pictorial practice

  • Costas Tsoclis

    Amid the quite often didactic and scholastic seriousness pervading the Venice Biennale, the Greek Pavilion stood happily apart. Costas Tsoclis used the pavilion’s ample space as a public forum in which to reflect on two distinct entities: darkness and light. Within this space he set up a game of mirrors, sinking images and objects into the depth of illusion. Both the real and the reproduced met at an intangible threshold that defied the senses and logic. Underlying Tsoclis’ esthetic is a precise control over the potential of fiction: the mythical tale dissolves into ordinary reality short-circuiting

  • It leads—but “leads” is too narrow a way . . .

    OWING TO AN ACCIDENTAL AND temporary impediment to my vision, I could see with only one eye when I visited the Biennale, and in the section titled “Spazio . . . verso l'undicesima dimensione” (Space . . . toward the 11th dimension) I was afraid that, with my lost sense of depth, I would miss a lot. Instead, this section of the show seemed made for me. Why? Because, despite its promise of a multidimensional display, its true subject was the sense of perspective rooted in the Renaissance—a three-dimensional space, in other words, oriented by a single vanishing point and uninformed by the element

  • Enzo Cucchi

    Enzo Cucchi broke with tradition in three major ways for his exhibition this summer at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York—two of them ruptures of museum conventions (and, in one case, of this space in particular), and a third having to do with the meaning and content of the show Most obviously Cucchi discarded the Guggenheim custom of having the publicascend by elevator from the ground floor to a higher gallery and then return to the bottom via the spiraling ramp. His show was to be seen from the ground up, by ascending the incline. This could have been seen as a disruption of the public's

  • Lucia Romualdi

    In a rigorous, almost ascetic show, Lucia Romualdi presented three largescale paintings and two smaller ones that register the change her work has undergone over the last year. The themes of water and memory have been constants in her work for more than ten years. The subjects of this work are in fact based in personal experience, in the seascapes, rivers, and gardens she knew as a child. These memories surfaced spontaneously, reanimated by the artist’s imagination.

    The recent work has been cleared of a “feminine” complaisance that was latent in Romualdi’s earlier paintings. She has abandoned

  • Balancing bigger and smaller. Alberto Burri’s studio.

    ALBERTO BURRI HAS A studio in Città di Castello, a small historic town in Umbria, in central Italy. Converted out of a large industrial building which was once used for drying tobacco, the space is huge, truly imposing in its bare simplicity, and almost overwhelming in terms of human scale. Its ordered neatness corresponds not at all to the cliché of the artist’s atelier as a place of “torment and ecstasy”; rather, this is a platonic space, in which ideas are cast on a flat white wall, about 130 feet long, constructed against the building’s frame. Burri, now 71, executed most of the paintings

  • Per Barclay

    It would have been unimaginable for the young Norwegian artist Per Barclay to have escaped the influence of Edvard Munch (1863–1944). And in fact, there are numerous allusions to Munch in Barclay’s work: the dramatic use of color, the apparitional figures, the juxtaposed planes of vision. It matters little that the materials used and the expressive formulations are diverse; one breathes in the same atmosphere, laden with symbols and apprehension.

    In Barclay’s work there is no formal separation between painting and sculpture. Both are utilized in an articulate esthetic declaration that is not

  • Mike Bidlo

    Mike Bidlo’s decision to duplicate the paintings of Giorgio Morandi (1890–1964)—a sacred presence in 20th-century Italian art—for his first one-man show in Italy seems to have been an inspired one. The show contained 17 small still lifes on the exact scale of the original paintings by Morandi, the representational artist whose work—tireless reproposals of the same subject, with slight variations—comes closest to the serial repetitions intrinsic to Conceptual art. Bidlo, then, was superimposing the post-Conceptual artistic gesture upon a pre-Conceptual one. His work made a strange impression on

  • Giuseppe Gallo

    Giuseppe Gallo has abandoned the use of figures in precarious states of balance that characterized his earlier work. Now he subjects the very idea of painting to a precarious balance. In his recent work, oil paintings on canvas, the color black is the protagonist—this is black not as an absence of color but rather as a formative nucleus. Black is used in all its layered possibilities; it is liquid, vibrant, germinal.

    The painting that I considered the cardinal piece in the show, Sogno orizzantale (Horizontal dream, 1985), contains formal and metaphorical elements that clarify this new stage in

  • Donna Moylan

    Donna Moylan’s new work is characterized by extreme pretentiousness and a lack of substance. Only a few months ago she showed a series of paintings based on an elementary figuration—a man/tree dualism—that had the potential for developing into a structured abstraction. But this was hastily discarded. Moylan’s figurative dualism has since found resolution in banal formalism. The recent works consist of cut-out geographical maps juxtaposed against broad-brushed backgrounds of the same color. The color’s tones are appealing, but the artist’s light touch is too often inconsistent. The result is an