Kandinsky and the avant-gardes on display at the Candiani Cultural Center in Venice/Mestre – Carlo Franza’s blog
There are not many Italian public museums that can count on works by great international interpreters of the 20th century, especially if we refer to a truly absolute qualitative and historical level. Cà Pesaro – International Gallery of Modern Art, jewel of the Fondazione Musei Civici Veneziani, can instead count on so many masterpieces that it can organize, without the need to resort to any external loan, an exhibition of the depth it is “Kandinsky and her avant-garde. Point, line and surface”, which can be admired until February 21, 2023 at Candiani Cultural Center of Mestre.
On display is a fine selection of international and Italian 20th-century masterpieces, received by the Venetian institution at the behest of great collectors – from Paul Prast to Giuseppe and Giovanna Panza di Biumo – or through acquisitions from artist-collectors such as Emanuel Föhn or derived from bequests, such as those of Lidia de Lisi Usigli, or acquired by the Municipality of Venice on the occasion of the Biennale or still destined for Cà Pesaro by the Ministry of Culture, by other institutions or by companies such as Esso Standard Italia.
«The added value of the initiative- comments the Mayor of Venice Luigi Brugnaro – resides not only in the numerous masterpieces that dot the exhibition halls of the Candiani Cultural Center but also in the fact that this exhibition is entirely conceived and created with works from the Ca’ Pesaro collections. This is further evidence of the vitality of the collections in our present timeand also a confirmation of the quality of the acquisitions made by the Municipality of Venice in the past decades».
«At Candiani – he anticipates Elizabeth Barisoni that of Cà Pesaro is the Responsible – we present a nucleus of ben nine works by Kandinsky, among which “White Zig Zag” from 1922, acquired at the 1950 Biennale, and “Three Triangles” from 1938, bequeathed by Lidia de Lisi Usigli, together with an exciting sequence of “Piccoli Mondi” from 1922, donated by Paul Prast . It is a collection of graphic works that the Russian master created in 1922, when he taught at the important creative workshop represented by the Bauhaus school. The techniques are different, each chosen by Kandinsky for its unique character: the lithography combines signs and colors to produce an image that comes as close as possible to a painting, woodcut is instead characterized by the interaction of foreground and background, while drypoint allows precision of sign and study of lines. For Kandinsky, the “small worlds” become autonomous microcosms, almost like small galaxies in dialogue with each other».
In conjunction with Kandinsky, Paul Klee, also represented by a nucleus of seven works. They range from “Village idyll” to “Eat from the hand”, respectively from 1913 and 1920, to “With the snake”, an extraordinary work from 1924, to “Landscape with rocks and fir trees” from 1929 and “Three polyphonic subjects” from 1932. The section is completed by a work on paper by Lyonel Feininger, “Il molo sul Rega” from 1927. These are unique works in the Italian museum panorama, which testify to the richness and variety of the Venetian civic collections. The great revolution of the artistic group Der Blaue Reiter, The Blue Rider, which in addition to Kandinsky had Klee and Feininger himself among the protagonists, is fully expressed through the masterpieces on display. These authors then move on to the Bauhaus school, a place where avant-garde research is developed and where it is translated into new generations that were forming in Europe between the 1920s and 1933, the date of closure of the German school by the Nazi power. The next, no less spectacular, section on “The avant-gardes between abstraction and Surrealism” aligns the works of Enrico Prampolini, Luigi Veronesi, Joan Miró, Antoni Tàpies, Yves Tanguy, Victor Brauner and Jean Arp. Once again Kandinsky is related to numerous non-figurative artistic currents that arose during the 1920s, when Paris was the crossroads of groups that rethink creation starting from abstraction.
Among the Italians is the futurist Enrico Prampolini, which combines geometric shapes with new motifs, embryonic organisms and colors that recreate lyrical musical assonances. Prampolini, of whom Ca’ Pesaro preserves a painting from the series of “Cosmic analogies” (1931), also represents the most significant link between the line of abstract art and the informal non-figurative art of the second post-war period. Luigi Veronesi was also in Paris in the same period and in 1934 he joined AsbtractionCréation, a group which included, in addition to Prampolini, Ben Nicholson and Jean Arp, represented in the exhibition with two exceptional works which constitute, once again, unique presences in the panorama of the Italian Museums. “Post-war abstraction” is the theme of the third section of the exhibition, which opens with Nicholson and then develops to embrace artistic movements distant in time and space, with a transversal and parallel look at the post-war period. The expressive forms of the Informal and Abstract Expressionism understand the artistic act as an individual, singular, direct action that overcomes any mediation, preventive codification, formalization of language. The starting point is close to the reflections of the Russian Master and art is experienced as an existential as well as creative process, as the freest possible expression of passions, tensions, sensations, transformed into signs, gestures, colors and materials. From Afro and Santomaso to Emilio Vedova, from Mario Deluigi to Tancredi, from Karel Appel to Mark Tobey, the forms of abstraction in the second half of the 20th century are placed between informal, lyrical suggestion and gestural charge. Do not miss a look at sculpture, an expressive technique of which Ca’ Pesaro preserves very important examples, and here we still find the dialogue between abstraction and biomorphism: in the archetypes, close to Paul Klee, by Mirko Basaldella, in the plastic concretions, between solids and voids, by the Spanish master Eduardo Chillida and, in the spatial field, in Arp’s lesson taken from Bruno De Toffoli’s constructions or in the intimate and painful “Luci nel bosco” by Luciano Minguzzi.
The line of abstraction remains and becomes radical, almost ascetic, in later periods, when movements with minimal conceptions come to life, well expressed in the work of Richard Nonas and Julia Mangold. These plastic tests, although distant in time and space, establish a lively dialogue with the masterpieces of the avant-gardes of the beginning of the century and bear witness to the vitality of Kandinsky’s lesson and his belief in the power of artistic production, as he wrote in 1926 in the volume “Punto , line, surface”: “Art goes beyond the limits in which its era would like to force it and announces the content of the future”. “Kandinsky and the avant-gardes – he comments Mariacristina Gribaudi, President of the Civic Museums Foundation of Venice – confirms our willingness to kick off a new phase of collaboration with the Centro Culturale Candiani, on the strength of the important initiatives that have seen us as protagonists in Mestre since 2016. It is also a great opportunity to see a nucleus with new eyes of the collections of Ca’ Pesaro and I hope that these initiatives, materialized in a widespread action on the territory, can give good results for the growth of our communities and for the return of national and international visitors to our country”.