Ida Panicelli

  • Fritto Misto

    EVERY TWO YEARS A GENERAL cry is heard from the masses of artists, critics, dealers, and collectors who in early June find themselves in the Venice Giardini: “Never has there been such an awful Biennale! This time we have touched bottom!”. Unfortunately, this has never been true; a slightly lower bottom is always to come. But this year the cry had a different connotation. Exultant communiqués and press conferences offered up during two years of anticipation, and a reorganization of high-level officials, had led to the hope of something better than the critical/organizational disorder of past

  • Gianfranco Notargiacomo

    From his earlier, abstract pieces Gianfranco Notargiacomo has moved toward a wholly unexpected figuration, one which has nothing to do with the figurative classicism currently flooding the Italian scene. His previous work is characterized by a convulsive gesturality, in which foaming and dripping light greens, reds, and purples are contrasted with nervous surfaces of dark blacks and grays. Notargiacomo has now abandoned the abstract gesture, and the image clearly appears—a precise, readable object. The reference, however, accords more to a type of abstraction than to one of realism, for the

  • Nunzio Di Stefano

    Nunzio Di Stefano’s work, previously little known, moves through the fields of painting and sculpture, drawing ambiguities rather than firm certainties from both. Here he showed 11 large painted sculptures, vaguely naturalistic plaster forms which allude to tree bark detached from the trunk, to seashells of abnormal size, to chips of corroded stone. The analogy to nature is basic. Di Stefano’s procedure is one of impressions, traces, and marks; he does not work in full relief or through the exploration of volume, but smooths the skin of sculpture. Evoking a body that slips out of sight, he lets

  • Falso Movimento

    This performance group’s Otello is derived not from Shakespeare but from Giuseppe Verdi’s opera. More melodramatic than dramatic, it freely mixes genres and visual references ranging from the Renaissance to 19th-century romantic iconography to modern cinema. The lip-synced text is partly taken from the original libretto, by Arrigo Boito, and partly written by the performers themselves, but the word plays a minor, almost casual role in this piece; the music is the true protagonist. Verdi’s score has been reworked by Peter Gordon, who, using a Herbert von Karajan recording of the opera, superimposes

  • Eric Fischl

    Eric Fischl’s first exhibition in Rome was a one-painting show, but what a painting. This was a large oil-on-canvas work entitled Birthday Boy, 1983. The scene is a bedroom, slightly distorted in perspective; on the unmade bed lie an adult woman and an adolescent boy, who presumably is celebrating his birthday. Both are nude. Is the woman his birthday present? She opens her legs without reticence, seemingly offering transition from childhood to puberty. Almost distractedly, the boy touches the woman’s leg, his glance toward her unwillingly oblique. He doesn’t seem at all grateful for the gift

  • “Latitudine Napoli New York”

    New York—art, business, entertainment center—can be considered the navel of the Western world. We outside the city observe it with curiosity, but not always with a precise awareness of what is going on there. As diffused through the mass media, New York seems to be a place where everything happens in midtown between 11 A.M. and 5 P.M., where anything whatsoever can be found in the shop windows of Fifth Avenue, where all the art is shown only in certain galleries and museums. Likewise Naples is always characterized as in a picture postcard—Vesuvius, the sea, pizza. . . . The stereotyped images

  • Gino de Dominicis

    The first work one saw here was a metal cut-out outlining the profiles of two figures, Urvasi and Gilgamesh, characters Gino de Dominicis has portrayed in an earlier work. The hero of a Babylonian legend, Gilgamesh’s attribute is “he who has seen everything”; he is said to have descended to the realm of the dead in search of a dead companion, meeting the gods of the underworld and receiving from them an herb that grants immortality. De Dominicis adopts Gilgamesh as the exemplary protagonist of an initiatory journey that must be completed to achieve ultimate awareness of life’s mysteries.


  • Alberto Burri

    The sestante (sextant) is an instrument of revelation, used at sea to establish position; in giving this show such a title Alberto Burri seemed to be locating his position vis-à-vis painting. The vast former navy yard held 17 large works in acrylic on Celotex, each about 97 by 136 inches. The structure of the yard is a sort of large nave, and the paintings were arranged in regular succession in side “chapels”; sixteen were hung on a wall over three hundred feet long, their spacing punctuated by buttresses that framed them as in niches, while a seventeenth hung on the shorter entrance wall.


  • Alighiero e Boetti

    A constant factor in these three exhibitions of work by Alighiero e Boetti is the investigation of order within apparently disordered spaces. In Mille Fiumi più lunghi (entitled in English Classifying the Thousand Longest Rivers of the World), 1977–82, Boetti imposes the Western rationality of the encyclopedia on the rivers’ chance geographic locations. A tapestry, sewn by artisans in Afghanistan, shows a listing of the rivers’ names in order of their lengths, which are also embroidered in. This transformation of natural data—the varying extents of the rivers’ courses—into objective, serial data


    LET’S TAKE AS a starting point the metaphor of the voyage. But the voyager, the voyage itself, the destination, and the vehicle are all unique; they are Nicola De Maria. The voyage takes place in a room; his works are the adventure.

    His luggage is a suitcase, painted in vivid colors, informing us of what this nomad in the realm of art means to carry with him: a joy of color, evident on the outer surface of the object; and the weight of a remarkable sense of memory presumably contained within. De Maria’s memory is a strange thing: he shuns decipherings and explanations; he doesn’t much like words,

  • Gianni Dessì

    In the paintings he executed last summer and exhibited this autumn Gianni Dessì avoided spectacular painterly effects. The prevalence of grays and blacks here is symptomatic of an ideological choice: rather than aiming for a high-pitched emotionalism through color, Dessì seeks a more low-keyed concentration and analysis. His limited repertory of tones is akin to the theoretical position of the Cubists, whereby painting defers to idea.

    In Expressionist painting color is linked to symbol; it can be grotesque and mocking, carrying the weight of the emotions. In Cubism, particularly the analytical


    THE VENICE BIENNALE, AS CURRENTLY known, is the product of reorganization by the Italian Fascist state; though it was founded in 1895 by the City of Venice, its status was not fixed by law until December 1928, when King Vittorio Emmanuele III and Benito Mussolini declared it an autonomous agency. The law empowered a five-man commission to administer the agency; transferred the exhibition buildings in the Giardini out of city hands; and determined the Biennale’s financial structure—a fusion of funds from national and city governments, admissions, sales commissions, and catalogue receipts. With