Modernism descended on Italy amid a great deal of din and hullabaloo at the beginning of the 20th century when the Futurist avant-gardes launched a liberating broadside at the heavy yoke of art and cultural history. The revolt was accompanied by a celebration of innovation and progress in the age of the machine. Armed with the new grammar of visual abstraction, they captured the spirit of new departures and advances, and turned to the depiction of speed and sequences of motion. With this they established key motifs and ideas that many of subsequent generations of artists were to return to.
The exhibition featuring works from the Museum’s collection is dedicated to Italy’s specific contribution to abstraction and nonrepresentational art, and takes a look at various currents and approaches that have helped shape developments over the past hundred years. Over 70 paintings, reliefs, objects and kinetic works give a sense of just how differently the principles of geometry and mathematics can be interpreted. Thus, freely composed, almost sign-like forms determined the painting of the Movimento d'arte concreta, while grids and serial structures set the works of the Arte programmata in vibration and motion.
The way the pictorial plane can be transformed into a field of action for light, colour and chromatic materiality, as pure manifestations, is demonstrated by the art of Antonio Calderara, Enrico Castellani and Paolo Masi. The other highlights of the show are the larger groups of works by two individuals whose works are essentially based on the shape of the square: the colourful word picture embroideries by the conceptual artist Alighiero Boetti, and the black and white works of the artist-designer Marcello Morandini, who transforms the strict systems of mathematics into dynamic rhythmic structures.