Cesare Pietroiusti

Sergio Casoli

Cesare Pietroiusti’s sculptural works consist of larger-than-life reproductions of discarded matchbooks, cigarette boxes, and other preexistent mass-produced objects. These found objects have been casually and uncalculatedly scribbled upon, rolled, or torn by some unknown other before being transformed by Pietroiusti through a process of mechanical reproduction coupled with standard sculptural techniques. Here, the artist has photographed the various flat surfaces of these objects and then veneered the enlarged Cibachrome prints onto sheets of plywood or flexible aluminum; he has then bent, curved, or assembled them to form oversized, three-dimensional photographic representations of the original found objects. Like by-products of an incomplete metamorphosis, Pietroiusti’s works display a dichotomy between the unconsciousness of the interventions that originally distinguished these objects from their mass-produced counterparts and the viewer’s consciousness of their current status as art objects. This dichotomy connects Pietroiusti’s production to the modernist project of establishing a distance between the viewer and the art object.

In Camel omino (Little camel man, 1989), a blown-up-to-life-size stick figure made from a torn Camel cigarette box, the viewer can easily identify with the hands that casually tore the cigarette carton, whereas the artistic filter of reproduction and enlargement only creates a distance from the work. Germana, 1989, is composed of seven separate pieces which represent a scribbled-on, bent, and torn-up invitation. In the other works in the show, enlargement and reproduction seem to be the artist’s only objectives; the new scale of these objects carries with it solely an idea of bigness from which no further information is drawn.

Pietroiusti calls into question some of the fundamental differences between the collage and the readymade. While collage is often a celebration of the creativity of the individual who created the work, the ready-made abandons the traditional distance of representation to proclaim that art can be made by anyone. Pietroiusti seems to be intrigued by the concept of the readymade, but his production remains grounded in difference and distance. Here he picks out the unconscious interaction of the other and filters it through a modernist perception in which the intervention of the artist becomes the subject and from which no further reading is established.

Anthony Iannacci