Fondazione Giuliani is pleased to present Gianni Piacentino 1965 – 2000, the first retrospective in Rome dedicated to the artist from Turin. Curated by Andrea Bellini, the exhibition follows the major survey show held in the summer of 2013 at the Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève (CAC). It represents a unique opportunity to discover the work of this extraordinary artist, one of the protagonists – only then in his early twenties – of the Arte Povera movement and, above all, author of a fundamentally autonomous and entirely Italian version of American Minimalism.
A unique personality and difficult to pigeonhole into a single group, Piacentino decided to abandon the Arte Povera group in 1968 – at the age of twenty-three – in order to dedicate himself to the creation of a vast range of curious two- and three-wheeled vehicles. These vehicles are idealised means of transportation with no practical purpose, characterised by aerodynamic shapes and elegant colours and decoration. Even the metals he uses have a pictorial and decorative quality: one need only look at the way gold, silver, copper, chrome and nickel come together in little details. In their formal variations, the vehicles borrow from aesthetics that range from the first racing cars of the twentieth century to the most modern, from the fuselages of early airplanes to kick scooters, from the fuel tanks of the motorbikes of the 1920s and 1930s to those of today. In form and structure, they tend to maintain the minimal character of the sculptures he had been making in the previous four years. Like his first minimalist objects, they also seem to appear as trajectories of colour through space, enriching themselves with curves, lines and ornamental elements that bring to mind the elegance of Art Nouveau and Art Deco. Beginning in the 1970s, Piacentino’s mechanical cosmogony started to bear a trademark: appearing on all his vehicles was the obsessive and omnipresent repetition of the abbreviation GP, the artist’s initials.
In this exhibition, Fondazione Giuliani presents the entire history of the artist, from the early “minimalist” sculptures to his extraordinary “vehicles” of the 1970s and ‘80s, to a selection of more recent works. A catalogue, produced in collaboration with the Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève, also accompanies the show. It is the first comprehensive monograph devoted to the artist and includes new essays written for the publication by Laura Cherubini, Marc-Olivier Wahler, Christophe Khim, Dan Cameron, an interview by Hans Ulrich Obrist and a timeline of illustrations realised by Marianna Vecellio.
The work of Gianni Piacentino has been presented in innumerable public institutions, including the Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève; MoMA PS1, New York; Museum am Ostwall, Dortmund; Gesellschaft für Aktuelle Kunst, Bremen, National Galerie; Berlin; Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid; Palais des Beaux Arts, Brussels. In 1977 the artist participated in Documenta 6, Kassel, and in 1993 in the XLV Venice Biennale.
With support from Bioera.