It will be an exhibition not to be missed, pandemic permitting: from Andy Warhol to Kara Walker, here are over 80 works by the most important American artists from the 1960s to the 2000s from the collections of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. From 28 May to 22 August 2021 Palazzo Strozzi presents American Art 1961-2001 , a major exhibition that celebrates the modern art of the United States of America through over 80 works by artists such as Andy Warhol, Mark Rothko, Louise Nevelson, Roy Lichtenstein , Claes Oldenburg, Bruce Nauman, Barbara Kruger, Robert Mapplethorpe, Cindy Sherman, Matthew Barney, Kara Walker. Exhibited in Florence, some of them for the first time in Italy, thanks to the collaboration with the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.
The exhibition intends to propose an extraordinary journey through important and iconic works of personalities and movements that have marked American art between two decisive historical moments, the beginning of the Vietnam War and the attack of 11 September 2001: from Pop Art to Minimalism, from Conceptual Art to Pictures Generation , up to the most recent researches of the 1990s and 2000s. Curated by Vincenzo de Bellis ( Curator and Associate Director of Programs , Visual Arts , Walker Art Center ) and Arturo Galansino (General Director, Palazzo Strozzi Foundation), the exhibition testifies to the multifaceted American artistic production between painting, photography, video, sculpture and installations, proposing an unprecedented reinterpretation of forty years of history and addressing issues such as the development of the consumer society, the contamination between the arts, feminism, the struggles for civil rights.
In 1961 John F. Kennedy became president and on 11 December the Vietnam War officially began, when the first American helicopters arrived in Saigon; in 2001 he became President George W. Bush when on 11 September nearly 3,000 people died in the most dramatic attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor. These two years become watershed dates that define the affirmation of the United States as a political superpower but also mark an era of unprecedented experimentation for the art of which America becomes a global reference point.
In a path that offers the works of over 50 artists, special attention is given to some key figures of these forty years. Central is Andy Warhol, of which 12 works are presented including the famous Sixteen Jackies (1964), dedicated to Jackie Kennedy in the aftermath of JFK's death. A special section of the exhibition is dedicated to the father of contemporary dance, Merce Cunningham, whose research is presented through large installations born from the collaboration with Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns. The great season of the Sixties is witnessed by works by masters such as Donald Judd, Robert Morris, Bruce Nauman, John Baldessari: figures who become points of reference for subsequent generations of artists who redefine the new possibilities of art. Among these emerge the reflection on the figure of the woman by Cindy Sherman, the appropriations from the world of advertising by Richard Prince and Barbara Kruger, the denunciation of the stigma of AIDS by Felix Gonzalez-Torres or the disturbing posthuman narratives of Matthew Barney, of which he is presented in an unprecedented way for Italy the installation of Cremaster 2 (1999), a controversial work dedicated to a murderer who requested the death penalty for himself.
Special focus of the exhibition, the one dedicated to the most recent research of the 1990s and 2000s, among which figures of reference for the African American community such as Kerry James Marshall and Glenn Ligon or artists who investigate American identity in a totally original way such as Paul McCarthy stand out. Mike Kelley, Jimmie Durham and Kara Walker, of which a wide selection of video works and drawings is offered that testify to his evocative research between history and social satire on the themes of racial discrimination.
"After a difficult year like 2020, the exhibition wants to give a restart signal for the social and cultural life of Florence and Tuscany, first of all for our local public but also as an offer for national and international visitors", states Galansino : " American Art 1961-2001 stands as a great cultural event that celebrates American art while also addressing important issues such as the struggles for civil rights and the role of women in art: an original and suggestive project for a renewed reflection on 'idea of American Dream thanks to the works of artists who redefine the role and possibilities of art, also as a tool to address and highlight issues and contradictions that affect politics, society and individual identity, American and beyond ".
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