A new exhibit called Le Onde: Waves of Italian Influence (1914–1971) is on view at the Hirshhorn Museum. The show features 20 works from the museum’s collection that demonstrate the contributions of Italian artists to the evolution of abstract art.
Several of the pieces have rarely, if ever, been on display since the museum’s initial exhibition in 1974. Among them are works by Zero group founder Heinz Mack, and Italian painters Carlo Battaglia and Enrico Castellani.
A key figure in the exhibition is Lucio Fontana, who was born in Argentina to Italian parents and divided his career between the two countries. His works reflected the new technological age. He became famous internationally and was central to art developments in Italy and throughout Europe and Latin America.
Fontana also influenced Brazilian sculptor Sérgio Camargo and Argentinian-born French artist Julio Le Parc, who studied under him in Buenos Aires.
Fontana is best known for his solid-colored canvases pierced with strategically-placed slashes or holes. Three of these “Spatial Concepts” from 1967 are on view. These works inspired a generation of Italian artists such as Giò Pomodoro, whose huge fiberglass work, “Opposition” is marked with dings and bulges, and Castellani, whose monochrome paintings are studded with nailheads.
The exhibition looks back to the work of Italian futurists such as Giacomo Balla, whose “Sculptural Construction of Noise and Speed” tried to capture the machine age, and forward to the later Arte Povera movement in Giovanni Anselmo’s work, “Invisible.”
Italian Ambassador Claudio Bisogniero said of the exhibit, “For centuries, Italian artists have been cultural innovators whose ideas have reverberated around the world. Le Onde sheds light on their contributions in the 20th century.”
The exhibition is accompanied by a catalog that contains texts from several curators and Renato Miracco, cultural attaché for the embassy.
In a related event, Miracco will speak at the Hirshhorn on Sept. 25, at 12:30 p.m. His talk is titled “Diary of a Destruction and of a New Alphabet: From Futurism to Spatial Art.”
The exhibit will run until Jan. 3, 2016.
Photos from reception hosted by Italian Ambassador Claudio Bisogniero and Melissa Chiu, the Director of Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden