From 30 March 2012 to 06 May 2012
Curated by Andrea Bellini
The exhibition which Castello di Rivoli is dedicating to Piero Gilardi concentrates on the first twenty-two years in the career of the artist from Turin, from the early Nature-rugs, which brought him considerable success on the international stage in the sixties, to a wide range of works illustrating his decision to leave the art system to devote himself to a “creative” form of charity work in a psychiatric hospital, before moving on to direct involvement in social and political activism. As Andrea Bellini, remarks, “Through his communal activity and his writings on questions concerning human relations and the connection between art and society, Piero Gilardi may be considered a forerunner of so-called relational art, the 1990s trend that aimed to turn artworks into an opportunity to create a social environment for shared activities”. An anomalous, elusive figure in the world of Italian art, Gilardi touched on the themes dear to Pop Art in his early Nature-carpets, then played a leading role in the birth of the Arte Povera movement, though without ever becoming part of a precise group of artists. His radical refusal to consider an artwork as just another item on the list of consumer goods led him in the late sixties and early seventies to give up making objects of any kind in favour of a direct involvement in social activism. Few other artists have been so utterly convinced that art can change people’s lives and must therefore be a part of the transformation of society by improving the environment in which we live. The exhibition includes a philological section on Gilardi’s first works, from Macchina per discorrere (Discussion Machine, 1963) and Vestito stato d’animo (Mood Suit, 1964) to the polyurethane works, such as Igloo and Trilite spezzato (Broken Trilite, 1964) and a number of famous Nature-carpets, for instance Mais (Maize) and Torrente secco (Dry Torrent, 1967). In addition to these works, visitors will also be able for the first time to study documents, original drawings, autograph writings, poster designs and footage of political demonstrations and collective actions. Not only does this extensive material recreate the artist’s personal history, it actually describes an important piece of our country’s recent history. The exhibition ends with the The Living Boxes project: a number of works from the museum collection are displayed in juxtaposition to Gilardi’s pieces in the exhibition, prompting unexpected associations and connections between artists who are often very different from one another. Gilardi himself chose the works he felt elicited this process best, all by artists with whom he has worked closely over the past fifty years. These are Michelangelo Pistoletto, Gilberto Zorio, Claes Oldenburg, Richard Long, Jun Takita, Michel Blazy and Eduardo Kac.
A symposium devoted to Piero Gilardi is to be held in the museum theatre at 6.00 p.m. on the opening evening and the speakers will include Andrea Bellini, the organizer of the exhibition, Tommaso Trini, writer and art critic, Angela Vettese, university lecturer and exhibition organizer, Diana Franssen, curator at the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, and the artist himself.
The exhibition will travel to the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven in September 2012 and from there to Nottingham Contemporary, in the United Kingdom.