new-york

Luigi Ontani

P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center

LUIGI ONTANI IS THAT RARE BIRD OF ART: an unforgettable face, a world-class dandy, and a redoubtable if lovably eccentric presence on the international art-world circuit. In this first US retrospective of his multifaceted output—painting, sculpture, photography, film, video, ceramics, and fabric pieces—we saw the filmed and photographic image of the artist nude and partially draped, alone and accompanied by younger genii figures (usually boys or men of color), many, many times. Yet something more than narcissism emerges from all this Body Art. Ontani's work makes his own self-portrait-as-androgyne central to the myth of all creation: This is narcissism transformed into a powerful—and redemptive—force of nature, a kind of male fecundity.

Ontani came on the scene in late-'60s Bologna with his brand of childlike performance play, and by the early '70s in Rome he was

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