The 1980s were, above all, a period of sharp contradiction. The decade is especially remembered for the emergence of a doctrinaire, pro-Minimalist art criticism. But at the same instant, it also saw the resurgence of painting, particularly that of the wide-reaching genre of neo-expressionism. Much of this work entered into the fray from Europe, with Sigmar Polke, Gerhard Richter, and Georg Baselitz leading the German phalanx. The Italian contingent was headed by the “Three Cs”Francesco Clemente, Enzo Cucchi, and Sandro Chiaaccompanied by a number of compatriots, among them the recondite figure Carlo Maria Mariani. Actually, by the early 1970s Mariani had already gained wide recognition for his abstract, conceptual, and performance-art modes, but it was his work as a virtuoso draftsman and arcane iconographer that carried him to international esteem.
In Europe, Mariani’s
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