Guglielmo Achille Cavellini: 1914–2014
Through June 8, 2014
Italian Cultural Institute Gallery
814 Montgomery Street
San Francisco, CA
The Italian Cultural Institute of San Francisco, in collaboration with the Archivio Cavellini in Brescia and LYNCH THAM in New York City, is pleased to present Guglielmo Achille Cavellini 1914–2014: a survey exhibition covering two distinct bodies of Cavellini’s work between 1966 and 1990, curated by Amelia Antonucci.
In 1971, Cavellini coined the term auto-storicizzazione (self-historicization) after he designed sixteen different museum posters each featuring the years “1914–2014” and the date of a solo exhibition celebrating the centennial anniversary of his birth.
The San Francisco exhibition Guglielmo Achille Cavellini 1914–2014 follows the 2013 New York preview that was held at LYNCH THAM from September 18 to October 27; and opens officially in the US the series of celebrations dedicated to Cavellini’s life and his achievements. On view are 14 pieces among which are two pivotal series “Crates with Destroyed Works” (1966–1970) and “From the Page of the Encyclopedia” (1973).
“Crates with Destroyed Works” is a collection of works Cavellini made by destroying the pieces he was creating and subsequently encasing them into crates. These works originated from an internal and emotional source, revealing an attitude brought about by a deep and obsessive self-search. The work encapsulated a strong sense of self-purging and annihilation, as he would destroy his work for the sole purpose of re-creating a new ideal, a new form of work.
“From the Page of the Encyclopedia” is a series of works originating from a theoretical and linguistic code Cavellini invented as a direct consequence of self-historicization. Starting from actual biography, Cavellini expanded his own life story to temporal hyperbolic appropriations. Fabric, objects, clothing and living bodies would become a direct canvas for Cavellini to “paint” his story. While “Crates with Destroyed Works” relates to issues of self-annihilation, “From the Page of the Encyclopedia” are text-based works that allowed Cavellini to insert himself into the past and future art history, thereby exploring the idea of self-expansion in these works.
The son of the artist and president of the Archivio Cavellini, Piero Cavellini, were present at the opening reception.
A comprehensive 70-page catalogue printed by Colpa Press will be available with essays by Valery Oişteanu, John Held Jr, and Piero Cavellini and forewords by Paolo Barlera, director of the Italian Cultural Institute, and by the exhibition’s curator, Amelia Antonucci.
A documentary that features Cavellini’s life as an artist, and his interest in and interactions with New York artists such as Andy Warhol, Ray Johnson, Carlo Pittore, Buster Cleveland, and Ed Higgins III, are also on view.
The 1981 historical performance of Higgins III, who painted Cavellini’s body as a performance piece in red, white and green, the colors of the Italian flag, were used as inspiration for a new performance by Luciano Chessa at the opening reception.
Guglielmo Achille Cavellini was born in Brescia, Italy in 1914. He is a historically important artist who gave context to the Italian experimentation period and was the first artist to bridge postwar Italian art with American Pop Art. Yet his diverse body of work defies easy classification. He had quite spontaneously eradicated art/life boundaries, recycled imagery from past works, appropriated and reused other artists’ works, generated exhibition possibilities, staged live events, utilized advertising strategies, inserted fictions into real events, celebrated silliness and devised publicity stunts.