Critics’ Picks

Cinzia Ruggeri, Stivali Italia (Italy Boots), 1986, leather boots with clutch bags, dimensions variable.

Cinzia Ruggeri, Stivali Italia (Italy Boots), 1986, leather boots with clutch bags, dimensions variable.


Cinzia Ruggeri

Campoli Presti | Paris
6 rue de Braque
February 7–March 16, 2019

Like a warm, unlit lightbulb, Cinzia Ruggeri’s sculptural gloves, boots, and dresses suggest a just-vanished human presence. Sure, most of the items could still be worn or used. Some of them may have been. For any fashion connoisseur, Ruggeri evokes emblematic designs of the postmodern era. Closely associated with the Memphis Group, she transposed their geometrical shapes to the body in movement. Take, for instance, Homage to Levi-Strauss—a 1983 dress featuring her trademark ziggurat motif along the collar and skirt. Later, she would become one of the first designers to experiment with electronic technologies, incorporating liquid crystals or LED lights into her garments.

This solo show, Ruggeri’s first with the gallery, spans four decades of her work, beginning in the early 1980s. Although she always considered herself an artist, it was through subverting fashion and design’s functionality from the inside that her distinctive approach emerged. The map-shaped Stivali Italia (Italy Boots), 1986, as well as the several mirrors and gloves—especially the Daliesque Guanto Borsa Schiaffo (Slap glove-bag), 1983—imperil the secure tranquility we associate with inanimate objects. Newer works, like Gioco per Palude (Game for wetland), 2018, or the eerie Tarantuga (Turtle), 2018, and Alieno, (Alien), 2016, cut loose all human logic altogether. On the two floors of the gallery, they enact a mechanical ballet for the Anthropocene, one where lifeless objects and synthetic animals dance to the sound of their inner, gleeful perversity. As a pioneering designer, Cinzia Ruggeri has made history. Yet as this small survey makes clear, in a gallery context her creations are more than ever in sync with a younger generation of sculptors dismantling boundaries between nature and culture.