The art is not our thing

By: Louk Vreeswijk

Jun 09 2013

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Category: Europe, Italy

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Art critic and politician Vittorio Sgarbi was chosen as curator of the Italian pavilion at the 54th Biennale in Venice (2011). Since he is known not to like modern art and even less its organizational “mafia”, his nomination was rather controversial. He decided not to select the works for the exhibition himself but to ask some 200 others (artists, critics, intellectuals) to do this for him. The result was a real mishmash of art works, very different in style and quality, haphazardly put together as in a junk art shop. And Sgarbi signed for it, by giving it the title “L’Arte non è cosa nostra”, with a wink to the real mafia.

I don’t know if he had given certain criteria for selection, but the main impression of the result was a statement of an art in crisis, at least in Italy; of artists having lost their footing and desperately trying to find a theme and style of their own.

One of the themes that recurred in quite a few of the selected works and that seems to preoccupy the artists, is religion and the Church – the catholic one of course – which may be not very surprising in this country and certainly not very original. The photo above gives a fair idea of the exhibition as a bazaar, in which a kitschy, painted crucifix can be seen. In another photo we find a sculpture of a naked man hanging in a similar position as Christ on the cross.

Italian pavilion, Venice Biennale 2011

Italian pavilion, Venice Biennale 2011

And in still another photo we are in a church or chapel with, instead of Christ, a bleeding Italy on the cross.

DSC00566 Italian pavillion - Copy blogsize

Italian pavilion, Venice Biennale 2011

And then there was the work “Cristo morto – Che Guevara morto”, in which the dead body of Christ, copied from the well known painting by Mantegna, is lying next to the dead body of Che Guevara.

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Cristo morto 1480 – 1490
Che Guevara morto 1967
Dal ciclo “Presente storico” 1998 – 2011, by Gianluigi Colin
Italian pavilion, Venice Biennale 2011

L’Arte non è cosa nostra, the art is not our thing: the state of modern art in Italy 2011.

Photo of the week: The Italian pavilion at the 54th Biennale in Venice, Italy, 2011

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