1979 | TRANSAVANTGARDE. The challenge to rationalism.
curated by Francesca Franco
It is neither a school nor a trend, but rather an orientation, theorised in 1979 by critic Achille Bonito Oliva as an overcoming of the minimalist, process and conceptual art experiences which had characterised the 1960s and 1970s with their legacy of performances, happenings and installations.
Transavantgarde was officially born in 1980 in the Aperto ’80 section devised by Achille Bonito Oliva and Harald Szeemann at the 39th Venice Biennial, and later establishes itself at the international level with the exhibition Transavanguardia Italia / America held at the Civic Gallery of Modena in 1982, which includes international art stars such as Jean Michel Basquiat, David Salle and Julian Schnabel, that is the leading representatives of the wave of neo-expressionism which invades Germany first and then the USA in the mid-1970s and marks a general return to painting. Due to the ‘wild’ energy, the frenzy, the eroticism of its imagery, transavantgarde can definitely be included in the artistic trend of neo-expressionism. The difference is that, while in Germany this is born out of the cultural basis of the expressionism of the German avant-garde in the first twenty years of the 20th century, for the Italians, who have a completely different history, it means giving up a precise tradition or rather choosing to get out of all traditions. This new research re-introduces the traditional practices of painting and sculpture into art with a spirit of total freedom, combining eclecticism with a taste for citation, for the borrowing of patterns and forms of art history and of historical avant-gardes, in an operation of stylistic and technical nomadism which won’t accept any pre-set languages. In this sense transavantgarde is part of the general processing of history that characterises modernism in the 1980s, dominated by the fall of the great interpretative systems and their truths, which are replaced by a number of partial conceptions with a pragmatic rather than ideal value, as Jean-Francois Lyotard writes in La condition postmoderne (1979).
The leading figures of Italian transavantgarde are Sandro Chia, Francesco Clemente, Enzo Cucchi, Nicola De Maria, Mimmo Paladino. These artists are very different from each other and in time will evolve in very different ways, sharing an aware redemption of the irrelevance of painting, meant as the ability to restore the vitality of the unconscious in the creative process, as well as a never-ending process of going through memory and the past without any historical, moral or religious influences. While not setting themselves the goal of describing reality, transavantgarde artists mark the return to a more profound image, which does not deny itself the pleasure of representation and narration by evoking, in fantastic, visionary figures and by 'physical' materials applied directly on the paintings, the eternal energies that animate the stories of man, the original myths of the Mediterranean civilisation, the symbolic shapes which are repositories of the collective unconscious. In a total non-articulation of form, which is bent to become an expression of man's existential condition, this type of painting recovers the universal sense of history with a critical attitude.
FRANCESCO CLEMENTEPlace of Power III - 1989
Pigment on canvas
FRANCESCO CLEMENTEPlace of Power I - 1989
pigment on canvas
Mimmo PaladinoUntitled - 1995
mixed media on canvas
FRANCESCO CLEMENTEAve Ovo - 2005
Mimmo PaladinoUntitled - 2005
Mimmo PaladinoHorse - 2006
|Materials||blocks of tuff and iron structure|