Gianni Piacentino: A Retrospective

Gianni Piacentino: A Retrospective

Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève

Exhibition view, Gianni Piacentino, Salone Annunciata, Milan, May 1968. Photo: Anna Piva Paolini. Courtesy Gianni Piacentino.

May 29, 2013

Gianni Piacentino: A Retrospective
5 June–18 August 2013

Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève
10 rue de Vieux-Grenadiers
1205 Geneva
Instagram: Centredartcontemporaingeneve

This summer, Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève is pleased to be hosting the first-ever retrospective of Gianni Piacentino’s work outside of Italy. An autonomous figure in the early years of the Arte Povera movement, he has gone on to develop a personal vocabulary which constantly probes the complex boundaries and links between art and design.

From 1965 to 1968, Piacentino paved the way for minimalism in Italy—a tendency which overlapped with American Minimalism yet had no ties with it. His use of colour as well as having a manual component and an obsessive attention to finish and surface treatment all suggest a link between the artist’s practice and West Coast Minimalism, and the work of John McCracken in particular. Yet this proximity is only apparent: whereas McCracken sought to unlock an invisible or extraterrestrial world in his work, the Italian artist’s approach was more empirical and sceptical. By virtue of his remarkable technical skill, he was able to transfigure objects of the inhabited environment (windows, doors, bookcases, posts and desks) into elements of colour in space.

In 1969 Piacentino withdrew from participating in Arte Povera exhibitions, and turned to working on dozens of kick-scooter prototypes and a vast range of curious two- and three-wheeled vehicles. With their aerodynamic shapes elegantly coloured and decorated, these objects are in fact idealised means of transport with no practical purpose. What is more, the metals from which they are made possess a pictorial and decorative quality: here gold, silver, copper, chrome and nickel come together in exquisite detail. Formally varied, the vehicles borrow from aesthetics ranging from the first racing cars of the twentieth century to contemporary ones, from the fuselages of early aeroplanes to kick scooters, and from the motorbike fuel tanks of the 1920s and ’30s through to the most recent. Thus, given the importance Piacentino gave to colour and to technical and manual aspects, as well as his interest in early industrial design and his impersonal aesthetic values, he became a pioneer of the return to object-based art of the 1980s.

Arranged chronologically and in close cooperation with the artist himself, the exhibition spans the artist’s entire career, from 1965 through to the present day, including a complete reconstruction of his first solo show at Galleria Sperone in Turin (1966).

The exhibition is accompanied by an extensive catalogue—the first publication to offer an overview of Piacentino’s outstanding practice. Published by Les Presses du Réel and JRP Ringier, it includes contributions by Andrea Bellini, the exhibition’s curator and director of Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève, Dan Cameron, Christophe Kihm, Marc-Olivier Wahler and Laura Cherubini, and an interview with the artist by Hans Ulrich Obrist.

Gianni Piacentino was born in Coazze, Turin, in 1945, and lives and works in Turin. He participated in Documenta 6, Kassel (1977), and in the 45th Venice Biennale (1993).

Cinema Dynamo:
Auguste Orts, Through Free Association

June 5–September 8, 2013
Opening: June 4, 6pm

First programme (June 5–July 21): Herman Asselberghs and Manon de Boer
Second programme (July 23–September 8): Sven Augustijnen and Anouk de Clercq


Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève presents Gianni Piacentino: A Retrospective
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May 29, 2013

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