30 July 2019

Coming up in August
A round up of events, news, curiosities, objects, books and a brief run-down on all the latest for the month

If you’re coming through Naples, on your way to Capri, Ischia or the coast, the great Pier Paolo Calzolari respective at the Madre Museum is not to be missed. Calzolari was a key figure in the Arte Povera movement, and his work is driven by the “transformation” of elemental materials - his works with ice and molten lead are extremely well known. The exhibition in Naples focuses, most unusually, on his “pictorial” production, and there’s no shortage of surprises!

“Time is a river which sweeps me along but I am the river:” even the title (a quote from Borges) would be enough, with no prior knowledge of Miquel Barceló’s ceramic work, to make one want to visit the MIC International Museum of Ceramics in Faenza, to take in the exhibition, which runs until 6th October. Barcelò’s touch is palpable all over the museum, not just in the temporary exhibition spaces, creating unexpected dialogues between his own pieces and the MIC’s stunning collections (most people are unaware of the existence of the museum, like its younger brother, MIDeC in Cerro di Laveno).www.micfaenza.org/it/

Aldo Rossi remembered: the exhibition Aldo Rossi and Reason. Architecture 1967-1997, curated by Cinzia Simioni and Alessandro Tognon with the Aldo Rossi Foundation, is at Padua’s Palazzo della Ragione until 29th September 2019. Original sketches, drawings, models and furnishings (produced by Molteni) put the spotlight on the great - and controversial - Italian architect, 22 years after his death. A sophisticated intellectual (more than a generation grew up on his “Scientific Autobiography”), extremely unusual draughtsman (his sketches are valued in their own right) and creator of masterpieces such as the San Cataldo cemetery in Modena, Rossi was a proponent of the extremely pervicacious post-modernist movement. An opportunity to set the record straight!

Pre-Raphaelites to fall in love with: let anyone who has not been in love to some degree with the women painted by Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Edward Burne-Jones lift up their hand. While the Victorian era was in full swing, the young Pre-Raphaelites, under the wing of the influential critic John Ruskin, refuted Raphael (hence the name of the group), accusing him of being the originator of Mannerism, furthering instead a subtle and fairy-tale idea of beauty. Ripe for rediscovery through 80 works at Milan’s Palazzo Reale, until 6th October.

Faraway benches: The 2019 Fiskars Village Biennale is under way in the Finnish village of Fiskars, known the world over for the famous plastic-handled scissors designed and produced there since 1967 (and still on exhibit in design museums). This year’s edition features a series of outdoor benches produced by leading contemporary designers, selected by Jasper Morrison, Anniina Koivu and Jenni Nurmenniemi. Walking along the banks of the Fiskars River and “stopping for a rest on” Martino Gamper, Inga Sempé, Cecilie Manz, Harri Koskinen, Simo Heikkilä, Klaus Hackl, Keiji Takeuchi and another 18 designers is quite an experience. Yours for the sampling until 15th September 2019.

Villa Paloma, Montecarlo: once you’ve left the clamour and grand luxe of the centre behind and made your way to the Jardin Exotique (an absolute must-see, including the spectacular grottoes), you will be plunged into the otherworldly silence of Villa Paloma, which has recently been turned into a museum (Nouveau Musée National de Monaco). An unmissable exhibition is held there every summer: this year it’s the turn of Ettore Spalletti with Ombre d’Azure, Transparence. The title embodies the artist’s poetic approach (and works well with the abstraction of the location).

Reading Sottsass: there’s nothing better, when on holiday, than to read Ettore Sottsass’s prophetic words. Thanks to the indefatigable efforts of Matteo Codignola, editor of Adelphi, the publication of unseen or well nigh impossible to find texts by Sottsass continues. Per Qualcuno Può Essere lo Spazio (1940-1956), which came out in 2017, has now been followed by Molto Difficile da Dire (1960-1975): Finito di Fare Cannoni, Bisognava Fare Prodotti da Vendere nelle Case…, Guardate le Ceramiche e c’è Tutto, Come nelle Poesie e nelle Canzoni. C’è Tutto e Basta. “… I’ve never understood this thing about museums, what I mean is that I’ve never understood what museums are: I’ve never understood whether they’re stores of documents to be examined with reading glasses, or whether they are depots of relics to be commiserated with like tombs in cemeteries, whether they are there to teach the history of styles … or whether they are symbols of national pride, or whether they are all this and more. And in any case, how do they fit into our lives?”

Is sewing things together art? Throughout her life, the extraordinary and long-underestimated artist Maria Lai, (1919-2013), responded to what is actually an extremely topical question. Rome’s MAXXI is devoting a major exhibition to her work, curated by Bartolomeo Pietromarchi and Luigia Lonardelli, which runs until 12th January 2020. Deeply bound to the distinctive Sardinian territory, Maria Lai “sewed” poetic words into her works.

Back at Tate Modern: is there anybody who doesn’t remember when, just a few years ago, the sun rose and set in the great Turbine Hall? 16 years on, Olafur Eliasson is back with the impactful exhibition Real Life (runs until 5th January 2020). In actual fact, the exhibition had been presaged by the Ice Watch installation (enormous blocks of ice, slowly melting directly outside Tate Modern), launched on 11th December 2018 to coincide with the World Conference on Climate Change in Katowice. Eliasson’s absolute engagement with environmental matters runs deep, but he manages to avoid any pedagogical schematism with his forceful harnessing of the artistic tools of his trade.

For those who want to stay off the beaten track: a world away from “major” exhibitions, this small but extremely sophisticated show in Turin (Musei Reali, Chiablese Room until 3rd November) tells the story of patronage through the figure of collector and industrialist Riccardo Gualino. What would have become of Turin’s Rationalist architects, including Pagano, Levi Montalcini and Busiri Vici, or the Scuola dei Sei painters had it not been for Gualino? We cannot know how things would have turned out had Mussolini not had this extraordinary collector arrested and sent into internal exile (he later recovered, despite losing everything, and moved first to Paris and then Rome, throwing himself into film production). A story well worth the retelling.

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