Art as a presence


‘The exhibition has a specific critical character, as well as being informative. It is made up of twenty panels, rich in images of European and American 19th century painting and sculpture. With the aid of brief comments, poems, quotations from artists and essential historical references, the exhibition presents the visual synthesis of a certain stream of international contemporary art: the stream of art as a presence. What does this mean? Let us look for instance at a judgement expressed by Kandinsky, one of the greatest exponents of abstractivism: “We live today” he claims, “in a time in which art is at the service of life. In other epochs art has been the phenomenon which has made the world rise: these epochs are now far away. Until they ever return, the artist must steer clear of everyday life “. This thought expresses the idea of art as an “absence”. The exhibition is not interested in this philosophy, but in its exact opposite: that is in those figurative experiences where man is present, with all his load of feelings: pain, happiness, desperation, hope, doubts and certainties. In the light of this, Giacometti could provide an answer to the thought of Kan-dinsky: “I paint and sculpt… in order to bite reality, to defend myself, nourish myself, grow; to grow in order to better defend myself, to attack better, to grasp, to go forwards as much as possible along all directions and levels; to defend myself against hunger, against the cold, against death…”. The twenty panels displayed, illustrate therefore this philosophy, which permeates contemporary art and manifests itself in artists coming from a broad range of backgrounds, languages, cultures and nations. The problem therefore, is not that of making a “history of art ” from the beginning of the 20th century to our time, but rather to highlight, through concrete examples, the existence and truth of such a line of thought, explicitly revealing the contradictory but active reasons for a direct participation into the difficult circumstances of the modern world. The main theme of the exhibition is therefore that of endangered human integrity, threatened in its values by the hostile mechanisms of a civilisation where everything seems to work except man, where control over life seems to be entrusted to a reason, which day by day becomes more and more unreasonable… Along this path we come across artists, such as Otto Dix, Grosz, Barlac, Beckmann, Chagall, Deineka, Picasso, Gonzales, Léger, Braque, En-sor, Permeke, Spencer, Bacon, Viani, Rosai, Carrà, Martini, Manzù, Mari-no, Ben Shahn, Orozco, Siqueiros, Portinari, and many others, including younger artists. These painters and sculptors represent the three generations of the 20th century: from the first generation to the third, after the war. Although starting from different positions, secular or religious, mystical or rational, riotous or revolutionary, all these artists still concentrate on the same problem: that of man dealing with his anxieties, his questions in front of the present reality… All the images that these artists of the «presence» present to us are always images which reveal a full participation into a common destiny, within the historical difficulties in which we are put to live… Mario De Micheli’


21 Agosto 1982 - 29 Agosto 1982


Exhibitions Meeting Exhibitions