Carol Rama, Appassionata, 1940. Courtesy Galleria civica d’Arte Moderno,Turin.

Carol Rama,
70 Years
of Self-Invented Narratives

“No painter is my master. My master is a certain sense of sin.”

                         — Carol Rama, 2009

This exhibition aims not only to expose the work of Carol Rama, but also to challenge the dominant narratives of art history through a work that requires us to undo narratives and reformulate concepts. Almost forgotten by hegemonic historiography and the feminist movement, the work of Rama, stretching over seven decades (1936-2006), constitutes an anti-archive allowing a reconstruction of the avant-garde movements of the twentieth century.

From her first watercolors of the thirties, Rama invents her own visual grammar that contrasts with representations of sexuality in modernism: at the same time mutilated and threatening, violated and irreducibly desirable, the female body is presented as active and vital.

The carnal palette of Fauvism serves her to support a subversive proposal: the intensity of the colors reserved for the vulva or tongue denote the resistance of the body to dominating forces and subjugating institutions. These works begin a task that remain constant to 2006: to elaborate maps of dissident desire, diagrams of the unconscious and its strategies of resistance to normalization.

Rama turned to abstraction in the fifties. She approached informalism and the spatialism of the sixties by creating bricolages and organic maps made of taxidermist’s eyes and nails, cannulae, mathematical signs, syringes and electrical connections. In the seventies, she created a matter-image with rubber tires, only to return, in later years, to the free use of form. Rama invents sensurrealism, an art of the visceral-specific, porn brut, organic abstraction. And, today, she appears as an essential artist for understanding the mutations of representation in the twentieth century and the later work of artists like Cindy Sherman, Kara Walker, Sue Williams, Kiki Smith and Elly Strik.

Curators: Teresa Grandas and Beatriz Preciado
Exhibition conceived by the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA) and the Musée d’art moderne de la Ville de Paris (MAMVP), organized by MACBA and co-produced with PARIS MUSÉES / MAMVP, EMMA – Espoo Museum of Modern Art, the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (IMMA) and GAM – Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Torino.

Carol Rama (born 17 April 1918) is an Italian self-taught artist whose unconventional painting encompasses an erotic, and often sexually aggressive universe populated by characters who present themes of sexual identity with specific references to female sensuality. Her work was relatively little known until curator Lea Virgine included several pieces in a 1980 exhibition, prompting Rama to revisit her earlier watercolour style.

Rama was born in Turin to Marta née Pugliara and bicycle manufacturer Amabile Rama. When she was 15, her mother was admitted to a psychiatric clinic.Her father was bankrupt and committed suicide. As a young unmarried woman in fascist Italy, at 21 years of age, Rama was already creating images that were challenging state censorship. Her first exhibition in 1945 at Galleria Faber was shut down by the Turin police. Her early works were watercolor paintings and beginning in the 1950s she began incorporating objects such as hypodermic syringes and small mechanical parts into her art. In the 1960s, her primary material became strips of rubber from tyres.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, she had connections with filmmakers Luis Buñuel and Orson Welles as well as the visual artists Man Ray and Andy Warhol.

"I didn't think I had the qualities for becoming an artist," Carol Rama told SAST Report in an interview, and continued with describing the view she had of the contemporary art scene: "Beautiful women, prima donnas, beautiful people who speak several different languages, sitting and being charming."

At the 50th Venice Biennale in 2003, Rama was presented with the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement.

Carol Rama >

 

 

William T. Wiley, Alchemical Lyon Tortured With Abstraction, 2005, mixed media on canvas, 62 x 73".

A Retrospective of the Work of William T. Wiley
Art, politics, war, global warming, foolishness, ambition, hypocrisy and irony are summoned by Wiley’s fertile imagination and recorded in the personal vocabulary of symbols. His wit and sense of the absurd make his art accessible to all with multiple layers of meaning revealed through careful examination.

William T.. Wiley >>

Lu Chunsheng, The Curve Which Can Cough, 2001. Digital video, detail.

Shifting Frames: Chunsheng, Cho, Kobland & Gehr
Electromediascope, the award-winning popular series at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, is an international survey of contemporary film, video and new media. For its winter series, February 2010, Electromediascope offers three programs of film and videos called Shifting Frames of Reference.

Shifting Frames >>

Kosha Appreciating Anything, 1997. Roxanne Swentzell (b. 1962), Santa Clara, New Mexico, detail.

American Art for the first Americans
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art unveils a new suite of American Indian galleries honoring and giving new emphasis to the artistic achievement of Native peoples from across North America. With more than 6,100 square feet, the galleries are among the largest devoted to American Indian art in the world.

First Americans >>

Helen Levitt, American (1913-2009). New York, ca. 1939. Gelatin silver print, image detail.

Childhood in Photographs through the Decades
Exploring our fascination with childhood as captured throughout photography’s history, Hide & Seek: Picturing Childhood features 45 works by 42 photographers from The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art collection.

Picturing Childhood >>

Caneletto: Urban Landscapes with Artistic License
and Precision

Working under the name "Canaletto", Bernardo Bellotto (1722–1780) and his uncle and teacher, Giovanni Antonio Canal (1697–1768) took the Venetian tradition of urban landscape painting to new heights. Bellotto’s keenly observed vedute – from Venice to Dresden, Vienna and Warsaw – are icons of eighteenth-century art and history. Their fascinating interplay of documentary precision and artistic licence continues to captivate the viewer.

With numerous international loans from public and private collections, the Alte Pinakothek presents the first comprehensive Bernardo Bellotto exhibition in Germany in almost fifty years. Key works from all periods of Bellotto’s life provide a unique opportunity to follow the artist on his travels through the Europe of the Enlightenment.

Bellotto gained the patronage of the British aristocracy early in his career and went on to create distinguished paintings of cities, palaces, villas and fortresses for many royal houses in Europe. His fame grew and he was finally appointed to the prestigious position of court painter in Dresden and Warsaw. In 1761 he visited Munich, where he produced a sweeping panoramic view of the city and two paintings of Nymphenburg Palace for Maximilian III Joseph, Elector of Bavaria. These large canvases, which epitomize Bellotto’s perfect mastery of form, have been recently restored and have regained their original vibrant luminosity.

The two Munich paintings form the centrepiece of the Alte Pinakothek’s presentation of more than sixty-five paintings, drawings and etchings, among them many sensitive landscapes and virtuoso architectural fantasies that invite viewers to take a fresh look at Belotto’s creative aspirations and practice. Juxtapositions of finished paintings and preparatory studies shed light on the complex work process behind the realistic paintings that relied on the use of a camera obscura. The seemingly authentic ‘snapshot’ immediacy of Bellotto’s city views anticipates not only the compositional principles of photography but also the medium’s use of light and shadow. Yet, for all their apparent fidelity to the given topography, Bellotto’s paintings are, without exception, idealised compositions that capture a particularly typical slice of the real world and invest it with a heightened verisimilitude. As such, Bellotto’s body of work boasts a progressive awareness of the mechanisms of human perception and individual remembrance.

The exhibition also features four modern-day views of the city of Munich, taken by photographer Elmar Haardt in response to Bellotto’s works. The photographs spark an artistically and historically interesting dialogue that sheds light on the inherent qualities of the old and new forms of vedute.

Coinciding with the exhibition is the release of a comprehensive, richly illustrated catalogue, available in German and English and published by Hirmer. 360 pages, approx. 300 colour illustrations | ISBN 978-3-7774-2246-6 | €39.90 (in museum).

Caneletto >

Bernardo Bellotto, The Arsenale, Venice, c. 1742, Canvas, 151.5 x 121.5 cm, © National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa.

Bernardo Bellotto, The Piazzetta di San Marco, Venice, c. 1742, Leinwand, 151.5 x 121.5 cm, © National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa.