Laura Grisi and Drops of Water, 1968, in the “Earth Air Fire Water/Elements of Art” exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1971.

Laura Grisi (1939–2017)

Italian pop artist Laura Grisi, who emerged on the art scene in the 1960s, died on Wednesday, December 6. Known for her series “Variable Paintings and “Neon Paintings,” 1966–1968, which feature combinations of luminous sliding panels made from painted canvas, colored Plexiglas, neon, metal, and wood, Grisi was interested in the idea of variability and produced works that allowed viewers to change the compositions. Art historian Germano Celant’s monograph on Grisi claims that she is one of the first artists to work with neon. She would often use neon lights in installations and in controlled environments that she created with elements such as water and wind in an attempt to redefine physical space.

Born in Rhodes, Greece, Grisi mostly spent her time in Rome and New York. She studied art in Rome and at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. Grisi had her first solo shows at the Galleria Il Segno in Rome in 1964 and the Galleria dell’Ariete in Milan in 1965. Since 1968, Grisi had solo shows at the Galerie M. E. Thelen in Essen, Leo Castelli Gallery in New York, Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, Galerie Konrad Fischer in Düsserdorf, and Ugo Ferranti in Rome, among others. She participated in the Rome Quadriennale in 1965, 1973, and 1986; the Venice Biennale in 1966 and 1986; and the group show “Young Italians” at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, and the Jewish Museum in New York in 1968.

Her works are included in the collections of a number of institutions, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Brooklyn Museum, the Weisman Museum in Los Angeles, and the Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna in Turin. Her work was exhibited at the Graham Foundation in Chicago in 2014 and the Accademia di Brera in Milan in 2015. In October 2017, she had started to collaborate with P420, Bologna, which presented her works in a solo show in Frieze Masters, London. In 2018, her works will be included in the show “Matrix for Actual Time,” curated by Jacopo Crivelli Visconti, at the São Paulo Museum of Art.