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May 19th- July 2nd 2010 | Osart Gallery, Milan


After the resounding success of Women Painters From Five Continents, Osart Gallery continues its research in the world of women by presenting a study on various female artists who dominated the 60s and 70s and interpreted, with courage, inventiveness and innovative creativity, both linguistic and conceptual, the longing for renewal expressed by an era featuring great social and cultural upheaval. The itinerary, structured exclusively through historic works, starts out from the very first moments when, no longer individual artists, isolated here and there, but a significant number of talented, determined women innovators, began to evolve, in person and with full authority, new movements and ideas, evolving, on their own or side by side – and sometimes as leaders – creative situations, then only emerging, nowadays more than well-established. The exhibition, in contrast with the previous showing, which focussed on painting, examines a vast spectrum of art forms, ranging from photography to installation, performance, writing and to various types of pictorial experimentation.

From the very beginning of the 60s, Dadamaino (1935-2004), with her work Volume, introduces us to one of the first solutions she used to demolish the static nature of art, both psychic and physical, transforming the spectator into an active participant. Thanks to her intuitions – which led her to go beyond the canvas: “Behind the great holes I saw a wall, full of lights and shadows, moving, vibrating” the artist wrote – “she asserts herself as ‘the banner of a new world’ “, said Piero Manzoni.

Marina Apollonio (1940), on her part, aims at achieving all-involving works starting out from a perceptive plane. Gaining inspiration from Gibson, Purdy and Lawrance’s scientific research, she creates conditions so stimulating that, also through the movement of the work itself, the viewer tends to feel the presence, not of a surface, but of a reality reaching back into depth beyond.

In the years between 1960 and 1970, Irma Blank (1934) introduces us to one of the great themes of the decade: the written form – letters and numbers. In that era – when television played a leading role as the communicative fulcrum of domestic households – the abstract forms of writing became one of the revealing manifestations of the conceptual aspirations of art, to the detriment of its traditions of expeditious representation. Irma Blank, from the second half of the 60s, with the Eigenschriften cycle (1970) – continuing in the 70s with the Transcriptions cycle (1974) – created works where WRITING is envisaged as an activity whereby the individual manifests the essence of his/her being, setting aside each and every specific significance. Blank illustrates the gesture of writing almost as an ancestral sentiment in which the meaning loses objective value and becomes pure gesture, a true and faithful continuation of the artist’s body.

Hanne Darboven (1941-2009) uses numerical series which, for her, are the only way to write without describing. Through the succession of numbers and dates, and the installation of her works, she tries to make the viewer comprehend the invisible, or rather the fluid flow of time.

In the age of the image, another name for the seventies, Ketty La Rocca (1938-1976) focussed her attention on the relations – and the confrontation – between the various means of translating and assisting reality in its passage from the subjective existence of an image to the various forms of social communication implemented by the media. In these works – called by the artist Reductions (1974) – she sets up the


photographs she herself took during one of her personal exhibitions. She investigates them, almost measures them, using not only graphic transcription but also a written form. By moving from photography to graphics to writing Ketty La Rocca demonstrates how, as the details fade away, little by little the language became more and more essential. New media like photography offer excellent, perceptive analyses, but reduction, when it gathers the essential in the design, is far more simple and conclusive. In our day and age, obsessed with the exaltation of the general public seen as the chief actor, we can appreciate more fully another of the anticipatory intuitions La Rocca reveals in her works. In fact, they choose to make the viewers themselves, present at the vernissage, the subjects of close-ups on the background of the exhibition’s walls. La Rocca follows them around in her photos, in her graphic and written vignettes, singling out and exalting various characters, transforming them from spectators into protagonists.

The exhibition closes with the works of the performer/violoncellist Charlotte Moorman (1933-1991), made famous by the concerts-performances she created with the founder-father of video art Nam June Paik. We see a very rare series of photographs, taken by Moorman (1975), portraying the Korean artist during a performance. Beside it is one of Paik’s original videos, the famous Global Groove (1977), where he recorded one of the universally-famous, musical performances given by Moorman, thus highlighting the interaction and exchanging of roles, from inspiring Muse to authentic artist, inaugurated by several of the principle, female figures who dominated the art world in the 60s and 70s.

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