Milano rende omaggio a Emilio Isgrò con una grande antologica contemporaneamente allestita in più sedi, a cura di Marco Bazzini.
Milano rende omaggio a Emilio Isgrò con una grande antologica contemporaneamente allestita in più sedi, a cura di Marco Bazzini. A Palazzo Reale sarà esposta una selezione di lavori storici di oltre 200 opere tra libri cancellati, quadri e installazioni; alle Gallerie d’Italia, l’anteprima del celebre ritratto di Alessandro Manzoni dipinto da Hayez e cancellato in bianco; a Casa del Manzoni, sempre con un nuovo lavoro: I promessi sposi cancellati per venticinque lettori e dieci appestati.
Il progetto è promosso e prodotto dal Comune di Milano – Cultura, Palazzo Reale, Intesa Sanpaolo, Centro Nazionale Studi Manzoniani, dalla casa editrice Electa e nasce da un’idea dell’Archivio Emilio Isgrò
From June 29 to September 25, 2016, Milan will pay tribute to Emilio Isgrò with a major retrospective staged simultaneously in multiple locations, curated by Marco Bazzini. At the Palazzo Reale there will be a selection of historical works enriched by more than 200 items, including his erased books, paintings and installations; the Gallerie d’Italia will present a preview of the famous portrait of Alessandro Manzoni painted by Hayez and erased in white; the Casa del Manzoni will present I Promessi Sposi erased for twenty-five readers and ten lepers.
The project is sponsored and produced by the City of Milan – Culture, Palazzo Reale, Intesa Sanpaolo, the Centro Nazionale Studi Manzoniani, and the publishing house Electa, and arises out of an idea by the Archivio Emilio Isgrò.
The exhibition in the galleries on the piano nobile of the Palazzo Reale presents the body of Isgrò’s historical works, modulated through thematic blocks and alternating with the great installations, which represent one of the most significant, but still little known, aspects of his complex output. A choice that visually relates the different works and reveals to the public the changes and developments that his cancelled works have undergone over time.
The exhibition opens with a reflection on identity and authorship, themes that the artist has explored since the late sixties with the works Il Christo cancellatore (1968) and I declare I am not Emilio Isgrò (1971), and then finally, forty years later, I declare I am Emilio Isgrò, the imposing work that gave the title to his retrospective at the Centro Luigi Pecci in Prato (2008).
Subsequently Isgrò explored what the artist has called the “general art of the sign,” namely the evolution over time of his erasures and visual poetry. From the first erasures in the sixties to the Enciclopedia Treccani (1970), The Betrothed Were not Two (1967), the Constitution Erased (2010), the Cancellation of the Public Debt (2011), to the Triptych of the Sun (2013) and Model Italy (2013). And, also, the first visual poems, including the famous Volkswagen (1964) and Jacqueline (1965), together with, Antony and Cleopatra (1966), never presented in public before, the “red stories” (some of which are now being exhibited for the first time) and the installation-environment Giap, presented again to the public after the first exhibition in 1975 at the Galleria Blu in Milan.
The route through the exhibition continues with the passage leading from the “excerpted letters" (letters or musical notes taken out of context) to the emergence of the macchie ("stains") and erasure as a gesture inclined towards painting, but not yet pictorial. The sign, in the early eighties, turned from black to white, and the written text was often replaced by an image. The installations Italian Time (1985) and Bach’s Vigil (1985), reconstructed in the exhibition, represent the remarkable summa of this line of research. This strand of his work also led to the creation of the William Tell cycle, presented in his solo room at the 45th Venice Biennale (1993) and now recomposed at the Palazzo Reale. As the focus essential to understanding the artist's work, the installation-score Chopin for fifteen pianos will be renewed at the center of the exhibition layout at Palazzo Reale.
Space is also given to another conceptual variant of erasure, the “enlarged details,” of which Isgrò says: "A word deleted will always be a stain, but there still remains a word. A detail hugely magnified of Kissinger or Mao will be canceled, but there still remains an image.” Hence we have to start from the "magnified details" to understand the progression that led the artist to design the sculptures dedicated to orange seeds, as in the monumental Seed of the Highest, which welcomed millions of visitors to Expo 2015 in Milan. The theme of the seed is interwoven with Isgrò’s line of reflection centered on Mediterranean culture, represented by the cycle of the bees and ants – also on display is the Biography of a Cockroach (1980) and The Bees of Istanbul (2010) – and a return to speech in the great theatrical cycle of the Oresteia of Gibellina (documented in the exhibition) which marked the refoundation of the Sicilian village destroyed by the 1968 earthquake.
The exhibition at Palazzo Reale is brought to an end by a gallery dedicated to the "trilogy of the censored," a series of works that Isgrò dedicated in 2014 to figures whose fate was influenced by established opinions and powers. The protagonists of this cycle were Giovanni Pico della Mirandola and his Conclusiones erased, the remarkable portraits of Galileo Galilei, Girolamo Savonarola and Curzio Malaparte, and finally Giovanni Testori with his great work Where the Bridge of the Ghisolfa Begins (2014), linked to the monumental erasure in the public space of Piazza Gino Valle at Portello.
The exhibition continues in the Gallerie d’Italia, the museum of Intesa Sanpaolo in Milan, where the vault, used for the first time as an exhibition space, preserves, like a real treasure for Milan and Italy, The Eye of Alessandro Manzoni, an unexpected, exciting cancellation of the famous portrait by Hayez.
Isgrò recognizes the great writer as the symbol of national unity more than ever necessary today in Italy which is changing with Europe and the world. Significantly the exhibition will end at the House of Manzoni, where the artist returns fifty years later to Manzoni's masterpiece, erasing twenty-five volumes, corresponding to the number of readers that the son of Giulia Beccaria wryly and modest foresaw himself as likely to find.
In addition to making available its own exhibition venue, Intesa Sanpaolo participates in the event with the loan of eight works from the Bank’s twentieth-century collection, which will be presented at the Palazzo Reale, including the two major installations Italian time and Chopin.
Emilio Isgrò, born at Barcellona in Sicily in 1937, arrived in Milan in 1956 and since then this has become his city and place of work.
With his first erasures made in 1964, Emilio Isgrò created a new language of great originality and transparency. For over fifty years the artist has intervened in the text in all languages and in all forms (books, posters, telexes, newspapers) covering with a sign almost all of the phrases and words to bring out small fragments: mutilated expressions intended to reconstruct those human identities which risk being finally overwhelmed by wars and conflicts, not only in the media.
But parallel to the transformation of texts into an indecipherable, fascinating pictorial grid, Isgrò used words also to write poems, novels, plays, theatrical tragedies, and articles in newspapers and magazines.
The extreme freedom of his use of artistic languages make him an almost unique figure on the national and international contemporary art scene, of which he is one of the undisputed protagonists.
Through a rich and linear path, between 1964 and 1975 Isgrò was the leading author and theorist of visual poetry, then distancing himself from it when he considered the movement’s driving force to have been exhausted. He anticipated conceptual art, but never shared its restrictive rules. He has renewed its experimental research, going back to speech and the ethical commitment; and has finally dealt with the most pressing issues of globalization, placing Mediterranean culture again at its center.