1984, 48 pp., 24 color, 9 b/w illus., paperback
Texts by Henry Geldzahler and Judith Russi Kirschner
The 5 artists in this exhibition all have strong ties to the cultural history of their home country, but this show was more than a representative sampling of contemporary Italian painting. These artists also share a desire to ignite their art with high drama and imagination, and were likewise all instrumental in the return of Expressionism in the early 1980s. Henry Geldzahler's essay looks at how the artists relate to the impressive cultural history and experience of their land. Chia's paintings draw on folktales; in them, a peasant-proletarian hero acts as protagonist in a timeless drama. Enzo Cucchi's cataclysmic landscapes are filed with all the passion and devastation of the Inferno, while Mario Merz looks to the tradition of Italy's poet-philosophers and Mimmo Paladino conflates African sculptural forms with medieval Siennese painting. The most well known of this group, Francesco Clemente, presents his nightmarish visions of human despair and longing through what Geldzahler calls the artist's "self-obsessed cosmology". In addition to Geldzahler's introductory essay, Judith Russi Kirshner discusses the Chicago tradition of collecting Italian art.
Published in conjunction with the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs