Giuseppe Capogrossi, The Rowers (I canottieri), 1932, Oil on canvas, 86 x 146 cm, Elena and Claudio Cerasi collection.

Giuseppe Capogrossi's Road from Figuration to Abstraction, 1927-1960s

Giuseppe Capogrossi, Surface 56 (Superficie 56), 1950-52, Mixed media on lined paper, 98 x 69 cm, T. F. collection, Rome.

Giuseppe Capogrossi, Surface 137, (Superficie 137), 195, 160 cm, Collezione privata, per gentile concessione di Galleria Tega, Milano, © Giuseppe Capogrossi, by SIAE 2012

Giuseppe Capogrossi, Surface CP/62 (Superficie CP/62), 1964-65, tempera on cardboard, 50.5 x 35 cm, Galleria d’Arte Il Torchio.


Peggy Guggenheim Collection
Dorsoduro 701
+ 039.041.2405411
Capogrossi. A Retrospective
Curated by Luca Massimo Barbero
September 29, 2012-February 10, 2013

With Capogrossi. A Retrospective, curated by Luca Massimo Barbero, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection pays tribute to a major figure in the first generation of post war artists who, with his painting Surface 210 (1957), has been represented in the collections of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation since 1958. The distinctive “sign” of Giuseppe Capogrossi (1900-1972), like Lucio Fontana’s gesture of piercing the canvas, or the materiality of Alberto Burri’s works, has left an indelible mark on the history of Italian art in the 20th century. This exhaustive retrospective explores Capogrossi’s unique contribution to 20th-century art, tracing the evolution of his signature abstract style of grandiose orchestrations of mark and color, and its numerous variations over the subsequent decades. With his endlessly inventive deployment of his fork-like symbol, Capogrossi became synonymous with the Italian boom of the 1950s and 1960s, a period of optimism and rapid economic expansion.

After finishing law studies in 1922, Capogrossi went to Paris in 1927, where he visited studios and academies and made himself familiar with the current direction and trends of art.

He was especially influenced by Picasso, Modigliani, and Renoir. In 1937, he left Paris and went to work in Umbria as a painter, dedicating his work to themes of the rural life. Back in Rome, Capogrossi taught at the Liceo Artistico. While traveling for his studies in Austria, he came in contact with the works of Klimt and the Vienna Secession. Together with Alberto Burri, Mario Balloco, and Ettore Colla, Giuseppe Capogrossi founded the group Origine in 1949 and turned to Neocubism. Slowly, Capogrossi's paintings lost even a semblence of figuration and, by the 1950s, he produced only abstract works. He also created his own picture language made up of horizontal, oval, and ellipsoid forms. In 1955 and 1959, Capogrossi took part in the documenta in Kassel. He was appointed as lecturer at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Naples in 1966.

This long overdue retrospective brings together over 70 of the artist’s paintings and drawings, covering the span of his career.

The exhibition is accompanied by a substantial monograph edited by Luca Massimo Barbero, and published by Marsilio Editori. Commissioned in collaboration with the Fondazione Archivio Capogrossi, eleven essays cover all aspects of his career from his beginnings in the 1930s through to his international recognition in the 50s and 60s, his exhibitions, and his relations with national and international critics.

Giuseppe Capogrossi, Surface 40 (Superficie 40), 1952, Oil on canvas, 75 x 54 cm, Private collection, Rome, Giuseppe Capogrossi.

Giuseppe Capogrossi, Surface 210 (Superficie 210), 1957, Oil on canvas, 206.4 x 160 cm, Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, New York, New York, 58.1518, © 2012 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / SIAE, Rome.

Giuseppe Capogrossi, Midnight Sun (Sole di mezzanotte), 1952, Oil and tempera on canvas, 98,5 x 66 cm, Collezione Maramotti, Reggio Emilia.

Giuseppe Capogrossi, Surface 406 (Superficie 406), 1961, Oil on canvas, 130 x 162 cm, Private collection, Rome.

Giuseppe Capogrossi, Surface 399 (Superficie 399), 1961, Oil on canvas, 160 x 196 cm, Rovereto, MART – Museo di arte moderna e contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto, VAF – Stiftung, © Archivio fotografico MART / photo Nicola Eccher.