New York

View of “Gianni Colombo,” 2013.

View of “Gianni Colombo,” 2013.

Gianni Colombo

Greene Naftali Gallery

View of “Gianni Colombo,” 2013.

A furtive press on one of the metal levers at the bottom of Gianni Colombo’s Superficie in Variazione (Surface in Variation), 1959, would have rewarded you with an uncanny displacement of your touch: a dimple appearing on a shaggy white surface in tandem with the pressure of your finger. In a contemporary culture awash with exhortations to participate, such a simple interactive device could easily be regarded as a technocratic instrumentalization of the viewer. But leavened by Colombo’s characteristic playfulness, the work’s strange dissociation of the visual and tactile is also acutely visceral. This important exhibition, the artist’s first solo show in the United States, revealed the prescience of Colombo’s work, as well as its power to disrupt one’s perceptual habits. It also exposed the internal resistance of many of his works to being shown as historical art objects. For if

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