Two Remarkable Shows, NY

by Amanda ROMERO

Italian Cultural Institute

There are 89 Italian Cultural Institutes in the world – and they all participated in “Venice Biennale In The World,” a project led by renowned Italian art critic Vittorio Sgarbi to promote Italian artists internationally. In collaboration with museums, universities, organizations and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, prominent art critics and scholars served as the judges for the 217 Italian artists nominated to show around the world. These artists’ works were also included in a video documentary presented at the 2012 Venice Biennale.

Gaetano Pesce and Angelo Filomeno were selected to show in New York’s Italian Cultural Institute in the October 2011 exhibit honoring the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy.

Icon of Italian design, Gaetano Pesce presented a site specific installation at the Institute. Italian artist Angelo Filomeno, mainly known for his strikingly beautiful embroideries, also had a series of his work arranged at the exhibit. As a child, the artist was taught how to sew by his mother, a traditional practice that has developed into well-appreciated talent utilized in many of Filomeno’s pieces throughout his life-long career. The juxtaposition of delicate materials and portrayals of death in Filomeno’s work has effectively landed the creative artist a distinct role in the world of art.

Guggenheim Museum

Until January 22, 2011, the oeuvre of Padova-born contemporary artist Maurizio Cattelan is on display at the Guggenheim Museum (New York) in a retrospective exhibit entitled “Maurizio Cattelan: All.” In addition to an array of over 130 pieces spanning his artistic career since the 1980s, organized for the first time in a sequence, Cattelan installed a site-specific piece in the museum’s rotunda encapsulating his works to date.

Though he never formally studied art, the now internationally-renowned sculptor un-began his career in the 1980’s when he veered from furniture design and started making “functional furniture with art meaning,” which caught the attention of the Italian design press and manufacturers. Cattelan’s unconventional pieces are marked by irony and humor, subtly challenging the viewer’s tolerance in an often perplexing and contradictory manner. Bold, anti-establishment messages are folded into hyper-real, clay-like figures in his sculptures.

“I produce things that interact with the public and with the media. I do not like a work that does not get a response. If the thing is good, it must be able to make friends and also enemies,” said Cattelan.

With this installation appearing in New York, his work is surely interacting with a major public – some of whom will be exposed to his provocative humor for the first time.