“Spunti di Giovane Arte Italiana”

Corrado Levi Studio

With “Spunti di Giovane Arte Italiana“ (Glimpses of new Italian art), Corrado Levi concluded an experiment in which, for over a year, he used his studio to exhibit the work of young artists. A collector, a teacher of architecture, and an artist himself, he assumed the additional roles of curator and organizer. (He put together shows not only in his studio, but also in other locations, including Milan’s Padiglione Arte Contemporanea.) Levi has said that his aim in arranging these exhibitions was to inform not just others but himself, to set up for himself a series of interesting occasions and encounters. The exhibition, which subsequently traveled to the Galleria Buades in Madrid, was a document of his manner of keeping abreast with a new generation of Italian artists.

The show was vast, including the work of around 40 people. Different ambitions, different information, the pluses and minuses of provincial situations, generational freshness—all of these were conveyed through a wide variety of esthetic approaches. An important benefit of Levi’s particular way of taking stock lies in his interest in the trends of the provinces, not just of the well-trodden art centers like Turin, Milan, and Rome.

In Bologna, for example, young painters such as Luigi Mastrangelo and Fabrizio Passarella seem to be sticking to the figure, at a time when many elsewhere are abandoning it. But these artists’ canvases are often facile and unprovocative. They seem to have been aligned with the painting of a previous generation rather than making their own place, and the results are innocuous diversions. From Florence, on the other hand, come concise geometric expressions of the relationship between reason and construction. Daniela De Lorenzo set metal rods in arrangements on the wall; shorter, broader elements conformed to their lines, then diverged from them in horizontal stubs. The work of Antonio Catelani explores the convergences of perspective through elastic cords that meet in a focal point on the wall. Both artists seem to be plumbing what is purely visual, like perspective, in terms of what is truly real, like space.

In their turn, the young artists in “official” centers like Rome, Turin, and Milan manifested roots specific to their regional contexts. Turin is a main reference point for arte povera, and Turinese artists tend to emphasize material. Luigi Stoisa, for example, showed a sculpture consisting of a steel sheet whose shape and position on the wall suggest painting; the shiny surface is scratched with sandpaper, a rectangle of which is attached to the center. In a reference to Joseph Beuys, Nicola Ponzio set bags of fatty material on a rubber-encased plank leaning against the wall. From Rome, Salvatore Falci, Stefano Fontana, Cesare Pietroiusti, and Salvatore Modica developed notions of the readymade and of conceptual art: Falci, for example, exhibited a sheet of Masonite that he had set on the floor of a telephone booth to be trodden on and scratched by the booth’s users. What emerged from Milan, which was more heavily represented than the other cities, was a tendency toward the handmade object, as in the work of Stefano Arienti, Marco Mazzucconi, and Maurizio Turchet. One sensed a certain embarrassment in the fact that the city, on the evidence of Levi’s show, seemed rather frustrated in its cultural life, and its young generation somewhat disoriented.

Jole de Sanna

Translated from the Italian by Meg Shore.