Mario Schifano ©Archivio Mario Schifano.

Mario Schifano Study Day

A selection of presentations and conversations about artist Mario Schifano.

The Study Day will include a selection of presentations and conversations in conjunction with the Mario Schifano exhibition in the Robert Olnick Pavilion.

About Mario Schifano

Mario Schifano (born in Homs, Libya in 1934; died in Rome, Italy in 1998), made his first important appearance with the exhibition Five Roman painters: Angeli, Festa, Lo Savio, Schifano, and Uncini, presented by Pierre Restany in 1960 at the Galleria La Salita in Rome. He attracted critics’ interest with his monochrome paintings, which evoked the feeling of a screen and displayed numbers, letters, road signs, and the Esso and Coca Cola trademarks. He signed an exclusive contract with Ileana Sonnabend and then in 1962 made his first trip to the United States, where he was struck by the work of artists such as Dine and Kline. He spent a great deal of time with Frank O’Hara, Jasper Johns, Rothko, Andy Warhol and Gregory Corso and exhibited at the Sidney Janis Gallery in New York in the exhibition The New Realists.

After solo exhibitions in Rome, Paris, and Milan, he returned to the United States where he received much attention from the press, winning several awards including the Premio Lissone (Lissone 1961), the Fiorino award and La Nuova Figurazione (Florence, 1963). In 1963, he ended his collaboration with Ileana Sonnabend who had been surprised by the drastic shift in the artist’s practice in contrast to his earlier work. His later work contains many references to earlier periods in Italian art history. The first of his “Anemic Landscapes” came out of this period and he presented it at the Venice Biennale Exhibition in 1964 upon invitation. The first short films he created, shot in black and white and for the most part silent, come from this period as well.

He started his exclusive collaboration with Giorgio Marconi which continued until the end of the 1970s. He participated in international collective exhibitions including events at the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh in 1964, and in 1965 at the San Marino and Sao Paulo of Brazil Biennial exhibitions, as well as the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo.

In 1967–1969 he presented the feature film Anna Carini vista in agosto dalle farfalle at Studio Marconi in Milan, which was followed by the trilogy of films, Satellite, Umano non umano, and Trapianto – Consunzione e morte di Franco Brocani.

He took part in a collective exhibition at the Galleria La Salita in Rome where he did not exhibit paintings but projected photograms on the Vietnam War.

An ideological and existential crisis forced him into periods of isolation in his studio where he created works reinterpreting Magritte, De Chirico, Boccioni, Cézanne, and Picabia. He remade his works of the ‘60s in the Sintetico dall’inventario series.

Mario Schifano: The Rise of the '60s

Robert Olnick Pavilion
September 14, 2023–January 8, 2024

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