"The one thing I was able to do for myself, my personal way of living, my house, my numerous empty houses, was to cover their arid and solitary walls with bed sheets on which I would cut and draw images.”
Pietro Consagra, 1974, Multicenter grafica, Milan
The Sicilian sculptor Pietro Consagra (1920-2005) was a major figure in post-war Italian art. He redefined the coordinates of abstract modern sculpture by freeing it from superstructures and conventions, favoring a direct interaction between the work and its audience.
This exhibition stems from the research conducted by the curator Paola Nicolin on a specific body of works by Consagra, better known as Lenzuoli (Bed sheets): paintings executed with homemade washable colors on cotton fabrics that the artist produced since 1967. As Consagra was developing a practical and theoretical discourse on the thickness of sculpture, new intuitions converged into this lesser-known series, in which the artist exploited painting as a free and liberatory field for experimentation. Consagra was painting “immagini vaganti” (wandering images) – as he wrote in 1974 in the introduction to the exhibition Variazioni di Pietro Consagra. Quattro lenzuoli dipinti a mano at the Milan Galleria Multicenter – in contrast with his radical choice of a frontal sculpture.
It was precisely in a Milanese exhibition at Beatrice Monti’s Galleria dell’Ariete in 1967 that Carla Lonzi, who had followed Pietro Consagra in the United States, acknowledged this change in direction in his research, comparing his Piani sospesi, Ferri trasparenti and Piani di alluminio to “paintings hanging on the walls”. In the present exhibition, a selection of these works is displayed alongside examples of Giardini, Inventari, Sottilissime, Mobili bifrontali, Controluce – executed between 1965 and the 1990s – presenting an intimate, personal and emotional journey into the domestic universe of Pietro Consagra, face to face with the visitor.