SCHIFANO MARIO ©
© Mario Schifano by SIAE
"Untitled (TV Landscape)"
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Mario Schifano was born in Homs in 1934 and arrived in Rome following his family after the war. He worked with his father at the Etruscan Museum of Valle Giulia, an activity that he supplanted, however, as his propensity for painting became evident to the public for the first time with the solo exhibition at the Galleria Appia Antica in Rome in 1959, with works circumscribed in the informal culture characterized by drips, gestures, and material thickness. With the 1960 group exhibition at Galleria La Salita (Five Roman Painters: Angeli, Festa, Lo Savio, Schifano, Uncini), the artist inaugurated a fervid season that would last more than a decade in which he would be in the limelight of critics, with awards such as the 1961 Lissone Prize and the Fiorino Prize, La nuova Figurazione (Florence, 1963). His painting is directed to monochrome expressed on papers pasted on canvas and covered precisely with a single, very tactile color. The work is treated as a screen on which letters, signs, new images produced artificially by industrial civilization will appear. This is followed by solo exhibitions and participation in group shows in private and public spaces and events in Italy (Rome, La Tartaruga, 1961; Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna, 1966 and L'attico, 1967; Milan, L'Ariete, 1963 and Studio Marconi, 1965; Venice, XXXII Biennale, 1964; San Marino, V Biennale, Oltre l'Informale, 1963 and VI Biennale, 1965; ) and abroad (New York, Sidney Janis Gallery, The New Realists, 1962; Paris, Sonnabend, 1963; Pittsburgh, Carnegie Institute, 1964; Biennale, São Paulo, Brazil, 1965; Tokyo, National Museum of Modern Art, 1967). Working in thematic phases, these are the years of the "Anemic Landscapes," of "Futurism Revisited," highly successful cycles. In Schifano the attention to technology and the reproduction of images, the contemplative dimension towards the city, music, advertising, photography, joins cinema with his experiments behind the camera, with a strong "sense of contemporaneity" (which is also evident by the choice of industrially produced materials, enamel colors, nitro paints). The early 1970s opened with the series of emulsified canvases where television images were extrapolated and brought back there and subjected to nitro color interventions to rise to another value, no longer ephemeral and placed under colored perspex cases. Equally important in this decade are the large papers (generally 100x70 in size) on which Schifano works by gluing magazine cuttings, then intervening manually with glazes, gelatines to other mediums. Between the 1970s and 1980s he introduces the subject of art and artists, using photographs of historical "icons" such as those of de Chirico, Henri Matisse, Leonardo da Vinci, Paul Cézanne and the Futurist group. Although these two decades are troubled by drug addiction, his exhibition activity remains constant: Schifano exhibits in major galleries, public spaces such as the GAM in Bologna, and is present at the 1978 Venice Biennale. Schifano's real rebirth, however, occurred in the 1980s when he returned to pure painting, with the large, colorful and textured paintings of the naturalistic cycles and dedicated to the prehistoric world, and exhibited in public spaces, galleries and very important reviews: Rome, Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Arte e Critica, 1980; Paris, Centre Pompidou, Identité italienne, 1981; Venice, XL Biennale, 1982 and XLI, 1984; Venice (Palazzo delle Prigioni Vecchie, Naturale sconosciuto, 1984), San Francisco, Museo Italo Americano, 1985; Frankfurt, Kunstverein, 1987; Aosta (Tour Fromage, 1988), Paris (Galerie Maeght, 1988); London, Royal Academy, 1989; Brussels, Palais des Beaux Arts, 1989. In the 1990s, images of his auxiliary Muse (television) on computer-prepared canvas and photographs return to prominence: in both media Schifano intervenes with paint. The works will later be the protagonists of a traveling exhibition in South America that is a great success with the public and critics. Other major exhibitions are those in Saint Priest, Centre d'Art Contemporain, 1992; New York, Solomon Guggenheim, 1994; Milan, Palazzo della Triennale, 1995; Beijing, International Exhibition Center, 1997. In 1997 he was awarded the San Giorgio di Donatello Prize for the polychrome stained glass windows in the crypt of Santa Croce in Florence, for the seventh centenary of its construction. Two years later Venice at the Biennale pays Homage to Schifano, who died Jan. 26, 1998, cut short by a life of excess and profligacy, in a Roman hospital.Read more Close