Action Painting

Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Modena

November 17, 2004

Action Painting: American Art 1940 -1970 - From the Sketch to the Canvas
21 November 2004 – 27 February 2005

Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Modena
Foro Boario, via Bono da Nonantola
Modena, Italy

Opening: Saturday, November 20th 2004


Curated by Luca Massimo Barbero

Masterpieces by Pollock, Kline, de Kooning, Gorky and other exponents of what Harold Rosenberg called Action Painting will be on display in Modena during the autumn exhibition of the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Modena.

The exhibition unprecedented in Italy will be held at the Foro Boario from November 21st 2004 through to February 27th 2005. Exceptionally, by decision of the Foundation, entry to the exhibition will be free of charge, as will the guided tours.
Action Painting. American art 1940-1970: from the sketch to the canvas organised by Luca Massimo Barbero, Associate Curator of the Collezione Peggy Guggenheim, is promoted by the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Modena in collaboration with the Collezione Peggy Guggenheim of Venice, which will indeed be lending the most important of the 90 works making up the exhibition. Others will be on loan from private collections and the artists themselves.

These magnificent works will be evocatively arranged in a setting that will depict an artistic and emotional itinerary of one of the most innovative movements in contemporary art. Drawings and documents will accompany some of the major works on display, to illustrate how the immediate, physical expression of the artist culminating in the actual painting is often preceded by a lengthy and intense preparation process whether this be dripping, in the case of Pollock, the expressionist forays into colour synthesis by de Kooning, or the large black marks on a white background by Kline.

American abstract art, generally known to the public under the name of Action Painting, has complex origins and developments which, as of the early forties, lead to various spin-off currents: from abstract expressionism to the Irascible artists, the New York school and other movements that would continue their pursuits through to the seventies. For the first time ever, an itinerary will be created in which the most famous names, such as Pollock, Kline, Rothko, de Kooning and Gorky, will be displayed directly alongside contemporary companions, including Baziotes, Marca-Relli, Motherwell, Francis and Hofmann. Together with a number of masterpieces from the New York collections, a series of sketches and drawings will make their premiere appearance in Italy, to illustrate the creative stages followed by the artist before the final painting is actually realised.

Within the exhibition itself, the attention of the Italian public will be drawn to certain artists: Adolph Gottlieb, a little-known name in Italy and represented by over 10 works; and Sam Francis, especially popular for his painting style, also present with over 10 works. An impressive painting by Motherwell (Elegy to the Spanish Republic No. 110 208.3 x 289.6 cm) will be set next to important drawings by the sculptor Smith; visitors will be able to compare the preparatory sketches by Arshile Gorky and his famous Untitled, 1944 (from the Collezione Peggy Guggenheim) as well as with fundamental works by one of the most celebrated masters of American abstract art Rothko, present with the dramatic Untitled (Black on Gray), painted during the conclusive period of his activities in 1970.

The aim of the exhibition is to create a thematic voyage rather than a simple artistic timeline through the Action Painting avant-garde, combined with the abstract expressionism that had such an important influence on art since the Second World War. This is a rare opportunity to admire internationally-acknowledged masterpieces, but also to travel through a more intimate passage in which drawings, sketches and studies accompany each work as a kind of supplementary mirror image. The exhibition will be inaugurated by a salon dedicated to early 20th-century European avant-garde artists who, thanks also to the efforts of Peggy Guggenheim, were able to influence your Americans in their journey towards abstraction.

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Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Modena
November 17, 2004

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