Exhibition review: New York in Milan

Let’s go back to the 1960s or 70s. One of the most symbolic artistic and cultural centers in the Western postwar world was without any doubt New York City.

The exhibition presents the stories of Italian artists who traveled, stayed, worked and exhibited in the United States, particularly in New York, or just imagined the New World, seeking for a liberating spirit and different models from old Europe.

This complex story started in the twenties, when Fortunato Depero, a leading Futurist, went for a long stay in the United States (arriving in the fall of 1928 he stayed about two years), symbolically becoming the starting point for the encounter with American life, until the two-year period 1967-68, when Ugo Mulas published New York: The New Art Scene, the book which brought together images taken since 1964 of some outstanding American artists. In the same period important exhibitions were also held, including a significant show in 1949 devoted to Italian art at New York’s Museum of Modern Art – the first time the MoMA had devoted a major exhibition to the contemporary artistic production of a single country – and a double event in 1968 devoted to recent Italian art at the Jewish Museum of Art in New York.

The 1949 exhibition at the MoMA was a key moment for the reception of Italian modern art internationally. The curators stressed that 20th-century Italian art had its own history, autonomous and independent of French art. They displayed 230 works (paintings, sculptures, drawings, sketches, engravings) of very high quality and 45 artists, organized into sections from Early Futurism to Painting and Sculpture 1920-48. 

The exhibition in Milan is showing the American imagination and above all the intense relationship with the city of New York, as it was perceived by Italian artists, with works by Afro, Paolo Baratella, Corrado Cagli, Pietro Consagra, Giorgio De Chirico, Fortunato Depero, Tano Festa, Lucio Fontana, Emilio Isgrò, Sergio Lombardo, Titina Maselli, Costantino Nivola, Gastone Novelli, Vinicio Paladini, Arnaldo Pomodoro, Mimmo Rotella, Alberto Savinio, Toti Scialoja, Tancredi, Giulio Turcato. A separate section is devoted to Ugo Mulas’s photographs of New York and American artists.

What Atelier Judith says: “The theme of the exhibition could not be more actual as we are facing a new image of America after the election of President Trump. Even though I enjoyed looking at the paintings by some of my favorite Italian artists, I think this show is giving its visitors only one point of view on the United States. The painters are throwing the finest light on America, especially on the bigger cities given that “New York” plays the central role. It shows us the Western / American art through glasses of pop and media culture.”

Details about the exhibition:

  • Adress: Museo del Novecento, Piazza del Duomo 1, Milan 
  • Running time: 13 April to 17 September 2017
  • Curators: Francesco Tedeschi, Francesca Pola, Federica Boragina

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  1. “New York New York” exhibition view 
  2. Left: Titina Maselli, Night in New York (1962) / Right: Arnaldo Pomodoro, In memory of J.F.Kennedy (1963-64) 
  3. Giorgio de Chirico, Le trouble du philosophe (1925-26)
  4. Alberto Savinio, The city (around 1960)
  5. Costantino Nivola, The unbelievable city (1979)
  6. Sergio Lombardo, J.F. Kennedy (1963)
  7. Paolo Baratella, J.F. Kennedy (1965)
  8. Mimmo Rotella, Viva America (1963)
  9. Ugo Mulas, Jasper Johns (around 1965)
  10. Ugo Mulas, Andy Warhol in his studio (1964)

All photos by Judith Bradl (copyright).

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