Minimalia: An Italian Vision in 20th Century Art

Oct 10, 1999–Jan 9, 2000


Open October 10, P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center and Incontri Internazionali d’Arte present Minimalia: An Italian Vision in 20th Century Art, a show organized by Achille Bonito Oliva, examining a trend towards simplification and reduction in twentieth-century art while demonstrating how Italian artists were at the forefront in exploring these principles. Including seminal works in sculpture, photography, painting, drawing, and installation by both prominent and lesser-known Italian artists, Minimalia highlights a quality of experimentation and research that continues a centuries-old tradition beginning with Leonardo Da Vinci who said, “painting is a matter of the mind.”

One of the features of Minimalia is Michelangelo Pistoletto's Metrocubo d’infinito (1966) as well as Giacomo Balla's drawings and Lucio Fontana's series of slashed canvases, Concetti Spaziali. The exhibition includes major works by Francesco Lo Savio, Piero Manzoni, Jannis Kounellis, Francesco Clemente, and Marco Bagnoli. Minimalia is updated to the current scene, including young artists of the nineties such as Raffaela Nappo and Liliana Moro.

Minimalia was first presented in 1997 in Venice, parallel to the Venice Biennale, unexpectedly drawing thousands of viewers, and later traveled to the Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Rome. For its presentation at P.S.1, the exhibition has been significantly expanded to include, among other things, Antonio Sant'Elia's architectonic drawings; Futurist Anton Giulio Bragaglia's photodynamism; Luigi Veronesi's photo abstractions; the conceptual research of Ugo Mulas; and Franco Vaccari's photography.

The exhibition is divided into seven thematic sections that emphasize the complexity of the artworks: “Art as light/dynamism” (Balla, Bragaglia, De Maria, Mulas, Veronesi), “Art objects” (Fabro, Martegani, Nappo, Piacentino, Rüdiger, Scarpitta), “Autonomy of art” (Accardi, Agnetti, Castellani, Dadamaino, Manzoni, Melotti, Nigro, Paolini, Prini, Spalletti), “The being of space. The space of history” (Anselmo, Ceroli, Colombo, Isgrò, Pancrazzi, Pirri, Sant’Elia, Uncini), “Art is a mental act” (Bianchi, Fontana, Lo Savio, Pistoletto), “Surface and memory” (Festa, Gallo, Kounellis, Manfredini, Mauri, Paladino, Pisani, Salvo, Schifano, Vaccari), and “The combinatorial system” (Airò, Bagnoli, Boetti, Clemente, Dellavedova, Lombardo, Mochetti, Moro, Pascali, Salvadori).

Minimalia is organized by Achille Bonito Oliva, a vibrant and accomplished international curator. Bonito Oliva's distinguished thirty-year curatorial career includes outstanding exhibitions such as Contemporanea (1973), Fluxus come Fluxus (1978), Aperto 80 (1980), as well as contributions to biennial exhibitions world-wide, and serving as general curator of the 45th Venice Biennale in 1993. In addition to his work as a curator and theorist of the Transavanguardia movement, Bonito Oliva is a published poet and writer, a prize-winning critic who has written notably on Mannerism and Duchamp, a professor of contemporary art history at the Faculty of the Architecture of the University “La Sapienza,” a video maker, and a writer for the weekly magazine L'Espresso.

The exhibition itself is accompanied by a catalogue published by Electa in English and Italian with essays by Bonito Oliva and Arthur Danto discussing the differences between the American Minimalist movement and the set of works that make up Minimalia. The catalogue also includes iconographical data in color and critical notes for each artist compiled and edited by Vittoria Coen with biography and bibliographical notes compiled by Fossella Caruso, as well as a description of the exhibition itinerary with critical notes by Cecilia Casorati. A video/catalogue of the exhibition will be available from Edizioni Artisti & Artist: Edit Zone Productions, Milan, along with a CD-ROM of the exhibition, which has been produced by Proggetti Musicali for Musa Roma S.p.A.

Minimalia: An Italian Vision in 20th Century Art is organized by Incontri Internazionali d'Arte and P.S.1, and has been promoted by the Italian Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the Italian Cultural Institute of New York, the Museo del Corso—Cassa di Risparmio di Roma. The exhibition is made possible through the major support of Illycaffè.

Additional support is provided by Alitalia, Epoca Insurance Broker, and Fendi.


Installation images

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