Ida Panicelli

  • Luciano Fabro

    At the time of his sudden death in June 2007, Fabro had already written specific notes and instructions about the installation and catalogue texts for this exhibition, entitled “Didactica Magna Minima Moralia.” He had decided, with curator Rudi Fuchs, to limit the selection to his earliest works, created between 1963 and 1968; that is, before the birth of arte povera, of which Fabro was one of the acknowledged leaders.

    From the beginning, his work was distinguished by a proliferation of eclectic materials, careful attention to technical production, and consideration of the properties of different

  • Pat Steir

    Pat Steir is a prolific painter who remains capable of surprising us with innovative variations on a particular combination of iconography and technique that has been a feature of her work for some time: cascades of liquid—presumably water—rendered by alternating a gradual buildup of paint with more gestural marks and splashes of color. In her recent exhibition at Cheim and Read, Steir showed monumental canvases in which she successfully reconciled a series of dichotomies: complexity and simplicity; dynamism and sensitivity; discipline and chaos.

    The most consistent group of works in the show

  • Alighiero Boetti

    Gladstone Gallery’s recent exhibition of works made by Italian artist Alighiero Boetti between the late 1980s and the early ’90s showcased two core elements of his work: an investigation of personal and collective identity conducted with reference to the idea of the Other, and a reflection on the power of art to dissolve boundaries between people. Like Andy Warhol and Sol LeWitt, Boetti was a “lazy genius,” and regularly entrusted the completion of his work to others, thereby distancing himself from the myth of the solitary artist and allowing for a deeper immersion in his themes. (Traveling

  • Luigi Otani

    At first glance, Italian artist Luigi Ontani’s recent solo exhibition seemed to fit neatly into the ongoing saga of his career, which has been defined by a flamboyant, if ironic, interweaving of art and life. Here were early photographic tableaux vivants peopled by medieval knights and Olympian gods (scantily clad and expressing a playfully androgynous sexuality), a set of large new lenticular prints in which a fully dressed Ontani wears or plays with masks, and a glittering spiral of ceramic sculptures of the artist’s own ornate Oriental slippers and snakeskin boots. The fancy footwear connected

  • Marisa Merz

    A sort of musical cadence structured this installation of recent works, just a few in each of the gallery’s six rooms, featuring Marisa Merz’s familiar materials—copper wire, oiled paper, lead, clay, glass, gold leaf, wood—and themes. There were pauses and accelerations, and unexpected voids. In Untitled, 2004–2007, weavings of copper wire hung between the walls like the lines of a pentagram, delineating an oblique triangulation and leading the viewer’s gaze toward a corner of the room where one saw . . . absolutely nothing. It is here, in the margins, where every noise falls silent, that Merz

  • Stephen Mueller

    The Tao te Ching indicates the essential role of emptiness as an element in the creation of things, habitable space, and sentient beings: “We shape clay into a pot, / but it is the emptiness inside that holds whatever we want. . . . We work with being / but non-being is what we use.” Painter Stephen Mueller refers to this emptiness by suspending enigmatic objects in boundless colored space, making canvases that hover between lyrical abstraction and geometric decoration.

    The only recognizable and repeated formal element in Mueller’s work is a vase, which evokes the votive containers in Tibetan

  • Gianni Dessì

    For Gianni Dessì, painting “is not a dead language that consoles and comforts, but one that requires the repositioning of the viewer.” And in this exhibition, an overview of his work from 1980 to the present, the artist allowed us to remain in the eye of the storm, a place of quiet, surrounded by the dance of material and color, which reveal themselves with explosive energy. Rule and disorder coexist in these works. Dessì seems to confront chaos without anxiety, but also without the illusion of controlling it; on the contrary, as he has stated, he relies on painting itself as a vantage point in

  • Alfredo Jaar

    Alfredo Jaar’s Gramsci Trilogy, 2004– 2005, is a profound investigation into the role played by intellectuals facing the forces of power—an extremely relevant issue right now in Italy (where several journalists opposing the current government have been silenced by order of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi) and elsewhere. This is Jaar at his best: politically radical yet contemplative, somber, and personal.

    The first part of the trilogy, Infinite Cell, was shown in 2004 at Galleria Lia Rumma. A sequence of mirrors, infinitely reflecting an image of prison bars, reconstructed the austere cell

  • Rico Gatson

    Rico Gatson’s work to date has consisted primarily of large-scale videos that explore racial stereotyping in Hollywood film. Here, however, his investigations took the form of multimedia installations that touch on similar issues but additionally confront the current media barrage of war imagery and the system of secrecy and fear that is now internationally pervasive.

    History Lessons, 2004, was projected on four walls and shown on four monitors encased in a freestanding wooden structure at the center of the gallery’s first room. The video is divided into four episodes, each with a different tempo.

  • David Krippendorff

    Rita Hayworth’s star turn in Charles Vidor’s movie Gilda (1946) was decisive in establishing the actress as a Hollywood sex bomb. On July 1 of the same year, the United States exploded the fourth atomic bomb on Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands, a test designed to show the world that the country had a nuclear arsenal. The bomb was named Gilda and had Hayworth’s image painted on its surface. David Krippendorff takes this equation as a point of departure for paintings, drawings, and video that move adroitly through the linked terrains of social criticism and political dissent.

    The movie Gilda,

  • Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba

    What is a memorial? Usually a monument or imposing statue commemorating events or heroes that belong to a nation’s history, it often stands isolated and distant from the very public whose memories it is supposed to crystallize. Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba’s 2003 “Memorial Project” on the Vietnam War—all videos shot underwater—offers a different perspective, literally plunging the audience deep into its personal as well as collective memory. Filming underwater is a sort of meditation. When shooting, Nguyen-Hatsushiba needs self-control and awareness of his own breathing, and he must position himself

  • “The Invisible Thread”

    What makes a work of art “Buddhist”? This question is like a koan, a riddle that can only be experienced, not expressed in words. In this show about the Buddhist spirit in contemporary American art, Bill Viola’s video The Reflecting Pool, 1977–79 perfectly summarizes some of the fundamental steps of Buddhist experience: self-inquiry, the negation of the individual ego, the interrelatedness of all human beings and nature. A man comes from a wood to a pool, looks into it, and jumps; when he’s in midair, the image freezes, and his body slowly disappears; time passes in silence; suddenly he emerges

  • Michal Rovner

    The dynamic between the solitude of individuals and their relationship with others is the subject of two works Michal Rovner created for the spaces of MACRO Al Mattatoio, in Rome’s Testaccio neighborhood. Arena, 2003, is a large video installation consisting of projections on both floor and walls. The central image, a warped square filled with small figures, is projected onto a floor of close-packed sand. The figures at the top and bottom are standing, while those on the right and left sides are squeezed into a flattened perspective. At the center of the square, a man struggles with a bear—the

  • Jannis Kounellis

    Monumental yet intimate, this new installation by Jannis Kounellis was a gigantic labyrinth of 143 vertical iron panels, each about eight feet tall, surmounted by a layer of coal. The work invaded the two vast entry halls of the Galleria Nazionale, almost completely obscuring the architectural space, but was illuminated by natural light from above, which was reflected by the comers of the iron sheets and modulated into infinite shades of gray. The work never touched the surrounding walls, maintaining an existence independent of its environment.

    There was a single entrance and exit from the

  • Pat Steir

    Earth, water, and air are the principal themes in these eleven paintings by Pat Steir, most of which were begun over the past three years and completed last winter. Their mood is somber: They are meditations on the transience of natural phenomena (Bay of Mumbai, 2001–2002; Sand, 1998–99), the passing of time (Winter Sky, 2000–2002), and the fragility of life (Hungry Ghost, 2000-2002). Steir achieves her abstraction by the strict observance of procedural rules regarding palette, methods of paint application, and so on—something that’s been important to her since her early conceptual period

  • “Serpentology Drawings”

    In Indian cosmogony, the serpent is assigned a variety of sometimes contradictory symbolic roles. According to Vedic legend, it is the first creature: Before the origin of the world, Vishnu sleeps stretched out on a cushion of rolled-up snake coils, floating in the cosmic ocean. In Tantrism, it is the link between earth and universe: Cosmic energy resides in the human body at the base of the spine, like a coiled and sleeping serpent, and unwinds toward the crown of the head on awakening (a result of meditation). It is the potential from which all manifestations come, the reservoir of all latencies,

  • “From India: Contemporary Anonymous Tantra Paintings on Paper”

    An exquisite show: nineteen small, untitled paintings on paper by anonymous artists in the Indian state of Rajasthan, created between 1989 and 1999. Yet these works are much more “ancient” than their dates allow. Revisited from generation to generation, the images interpret traditional iconographic themes that have been appearing in Hindu tantric texts since the seventeenth century. The goal of tantra is to allow the practitioner to reach higher levels of consciousness, and finally enlightenment, through postures (asanas), gestures (mudras), mantras, breathing techniques, visualization, and

  • Mariko Mori

    Purification, initiation, and illumination: In the Buddhist tradition, these are the three steps to enlightenment. They are also the subject—rarely tackled in art with such clarity—of Mariko Mori’s multimedia installation at the Fondazione Prada. Laid out in three rooms, the entire exhibition is pervaded by a sense of immateriality. In Enlightenment Capsule, 1998, a pastel-petaled lotus flower appears to float, illuminated from above, in a transparent oval capsule. The open lotus flower, hovering impalpably in the void, serves as a metaphor for an awakening of the soul.

    Mori translates the

  • A Conversation

    Ida Panicelli is currently the artistic director of the Centro per L'Arte Contemporanea Luigi Pecci, in Prato, Italy, and a contributing editor to Artforum. She served as editor from March 1988 to June 1992.

    ALESSANDRA MAMMÍ: Your arrival at Artforum, in 1988, coincided with a crisis in what people in Europe had been calling “the light ’80s.” At the end of the decade the idea of lightness, of decorative pleasure, of a free, sometimes unthinking use of the art of the past was called in question. It was just at this moment that you took over as the magazine’s editor. What did you find, and what