Heading into the "busy art season" -- Art021 and Westbund Art Fair are opening next week, fingers crossed -- here's a couple of newly opened exhibitions you can check out this weekend. The Italians are in town as part of a government funded, consulate backed Sino-Italian culture and tourism exchange, and three of these four exhibitions feature Italian artists working in the heady High Renaissance right up to zany, ironic coffee tables and couches AKA "Contemporary Design". The fourth one is a woozily impressive Op and Kinetic Art show also showing at Museum of Art Pudong.
An exhibition that comes to you purview as part of the activities of the Italy-China Bilateral Year of Culture and Tourism, "Design for Fun" showcases the bombastic, exuberant, and iconoclastic — in a word "fun" — side of modern Italian design, with everyday objects and forms — chairs, shelves, lighting fixtures — exploded into new endpoints and ideas.
Curated by Enrico Morteo and Maria Vittoria Capitanucci with Ling Min, the exhibition presents over 200 pieces that represent benchmarks of Italian design and innovation over the past 70 years or so. In particular, two icons of Zanotta's collection, "Sacco" — a zany, deconstructed arm chair — and "Quaderna" — a zany, architectural coffee table — are on show.
"Design for Fun" is an exhibition of quirk, irony, and humor that reassesses the daily objects in our lives and recasts them as sites for personal expression and free play. Good one for fans of craaaaaazy chairs and such, and a nice counterpoint to the more serious and involved Italian arts exhibitions at Bund One (see below).
Tickets for the Museum of Art Pudong are available here. Note that all adults, inculding small kids, need a 72h covid test to enter.
On at Bund One Art Museum, "100 Years of Modern Art" is another exhibition that comes as part of the activities of the Italy-China Bilateral Year of Culture and Tourism and is comprised of pieces on loan from the National Gallery of Contemporary Art of Rome. It's a big, composite show that seeks to aggregate the larger concerns of various Italian, American, and European modernist art movements — Cubism, Impressionism, Abstractism, Futurism — into one exhibition that gives you a bit of everything that was going on from 1870 to 1970. (Quite a lot.)
The names: It's heavy on Italian masters of course — Giacomo Bella, Umberto Boccioni, Giorgio de Chirico, Lucio Fontana — joined by a few international artists that are part of the National Gallery of Rome's collection: van Gogh, Gustav Klimt, and Jackson Pollack. Organization-wise, as opposed to the obvious Art History 101 chronological set-up, the exhibition is inspired by the "Time Is Out of Joint" exhibition in Rome, in which a specific time period in which an artist is working is discounted in favor of their formal concerns.
Works are grouped into genre painting and portraiture — artists painting what the eye can see — geometry and abstractionism — works inspired by figuration — and sign, shape, and color — the outer reaches of modernism in which artists are inspired by forms of art itself and the limits of the canvas. The gesture adds a conversational element to the exhibition — different movements and aesthetic concerns playing off each other — which gives it further depth than a straight-up "Greatest Hits of Modernism".
One to check out for fans of the various Modernist movements as a slightly more provocative look back at the shifting currents of the last 100 years of contemporarypainting.
Concurrently with the "Design for Fun" show also on at the Museum of Art Pudong is a graphics and optics heavy cross-medium exhibition "The Dynamic Eye: Op and Kinetic Art" featuring works from the Tate Collection. Spanning the second floor of the massive museum, on show is 120 multimedia works — painting, print, sculpture, installation, and video — focusing on the movements of Op and Kinetic art coming from an international cast of artists.
Concerned with geometric and mathematical properties, the works are bold in color and exude an almost scientific quality in presentation. Artists on show include Jesús Rafael Soto, Victor Vasarely, Alexander Calder, as well as their predecessors and contemporary practitioners in 11 sections. Curated by Clara Kim, The Daskalopoulos Senior Curator, International Art with Matthew Watts, Curatorial Assistant, Collection Exhibitions, the exhibiton is organized in a non-linear, non-chronological fashion.
Organized in motif, the show reframes the ‘50s and ‘60s movements of Op and Kinetic Art as explorations in perception and physical experience across different historical moments and cultural contexts.
The history of the selfie is on display at Bund One, another exhibition that's part of the Italy-China Year of Culture and Tourism 2022. "Masterpieces of Self-Portraiture" focuses on the genre of self-portraiture exclusively by celebrated artists, from the Renaissance to modern times. In cooperation with Uffizi in Italy, the exhibition displays 50 rare works dating from the 16th to the 21st centuries and encompasses styles ranging from the renaissance to baroque, neo-classicism, and romanticism — five centuries of self-examination from names like Raphael, Titian, Rembrandt, Ingres, Chagall, Yayoi Kusama, and Cai Guoqiang.
Arranged chronologically, and with works leaning more on the figurative end of the spectrum, the show gives insight into the artistic gesture of self-examination, as the individual subjects through the ages asses their own self-image and examine their own lives and legacies.
It's an interesting bridge from past to present — a far reaching one as well, with works dating back to the 16th century. This exhibition compliments the "100 Years of Modern Art" exhibition, concurrently showing at Bund One.
Spend an afternoon and check out both.