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“The Experience of Colour” is the first exhibition in the UK to focus on Astrazione Oggettiva movement, at the Estorick Collection, London.
The term Astrazione Oggettiva refers to a small Italian artistic movement which was countering what they believed to be the frivolity of the contemporary culture in the 1970s.
In 1976 the movement released the “Manifesto of Astrazione Oggettiva” which was the greatest artistic movement in the region of Trentino (Italy) after the World War II. The group was composed by the following artists: Mauro Cappelletti (Trento, 1948); Diego Mazzonelli (Terlago, Trento 1943 – Trento, 2014); Gianni Pellegrini (Riva del Garda, Trento, 1953); Aldo Schmid (Trento, 1935 – Monzuno, Bologna, 1978); Luigi Senesi (Pergine, Trento 1938 – Bologna, 1978); and Giuseppe Marini Wenter (Merano, Bolzano, 1944).
Astrazione Oggettiva focused on painting and colour which are at the centre of their investigation. They released works that were both conceptual and emotional. The Estorick Collection, London, exhibition displayed some of the most important pieces by each member of the group.
It is interesting to notice that there is an issue in translating from Italian to English. ‘Astrazione Oggettiva’ should be literally, but correctly, translated into ‘Objective Abstraction’. However, ‘Objective Abstraction’ refers to an English art movement, but a totally different one – lasted from 1933 until 1936.
Astrazione Oggettiva was an original movement and it was located within the international debate of the time. It was connected with the Avant-Garde, with the Abstractionism and the Bauhaus, but also with the Concretism and with optical -perceptual research of the 1970s, reaching up to the Minimalism of the 1980s.
In the 1970s some artistic movements shifted from the subjectivity of the author to devote themselves to the search for an objectification of forms of expression, investigating the phenomenal characteristics and perceptual form, colour and space. Astrazione Oggettiva found inspiration in two major studies published in Italy at the beginning of 1960s on the perception of the image structure and on the use of colour – by Rudolf Arnheim and Johannes Itten. The latter remain unsurpassed in the teaching of the language of colour, separated from any figurative and significant self -referent.
The name of the group, Astrazione Oggettiva, suggest that instinct was put away, favouring discipline and control
resulting in a creation of impersonal and intellectual art, while minimising the importance of the emotional response on both the artist and the viewer sides.
All the six painters had their own distinctive and autonomous artistic point of view. However, they shared a deep interest for colour. Their manifesto did not intend to limit the creative expression, but instead gave a general trend to the work of the group.
As the exhibition’s curator, Giovanna Nicoletti, explains: ‘A common denominator between the six artists was the relationship they perceived between colour and light, experienced as new condition of the human spirit, separated from the rest of nature. Aldo Schmid adopted a scientific approach to the subject; Luigi Senesi developed a graduated chromatic structure; Diego Mazzonelli investigated the ‘absorbency’ of black; Giuseppe Marini Wenter dilated space through the use of transparent colours; Mauro Cappelletti defined the different areas of his works with directional lines, and Gianni Pellegrini conceived of his brushstrokes as calligraphic elements possessing a pulsating energy.’
In January 1977, the group went public for the first time at the municipal library of Pergine Valsugana, near Trento, with a six serigraphs folder pulled in 60 specimens. In 1978, however, the sudden death in a railway accident of both of two of its key members, Aldo Schmid and Luigi Senesi, respectively to 43 and 40 years, marked the early end of the common experience. When both the artists lost their lives, the Astrazione Oggettiva group dissolved but left a still present legacy.
Tragically cut short by the sudden deaths of the two members, nevertheless the experimentation of the group still represents a notable contribution to the evolution of abstract painting in post-war Italy.
The exhibition “The Experience of Colour”, about Astrazione Oggettiva movement, was at the Estorick Collection, London, from 13th April until 31st July 2016.