During the 1960s, Rodolfo Aricò (1930-2002) starts creating shaped canvases combining geometric rigor with a suspended perceptual ambiguity. Designed by applying the principles of axonometric projection and characterised by apparently monochrome surfaces, Aricò’s works explore the boundary “between object and image”, as Giulio Carlo Argan wrote in 1967. The artist’s paintings investigate the notions of space and its representation. In a similar way to artists such as Paolo Uccello, Velázquez, Rembrandt, Vermeer and Rothko, Aricò often studied works and theoretical texts, which draw “a line in space”. Alike that of these masters, Arico’s oeuvre questions the identity of painting and renews the traditional categories of art history with works standing across painting, sculpture and architecture.
Also working in Milan in the same years as Aricò, Anna Castelli Ferrieri (1918-2006), Kartell’s artistic director from 1976 to 1987, is a key female figure in fostering innovation in architecture and design. A pupil of Giò Ponti, assistant to Franco Albini and partnering with Ignazio Gardella, Anna Ferrieri comes from a family of intellectuals and editors, including her legendary father Enzo Ferrieri, the founder of Il Convegno. She marries Giulio Castelli, a visionary chemical engineer, with whom she develops Kartell from 1949 to the 1980s. Her interdisciplinary education allows her to conceive architectures, set-ups and furniture questioning the identity and function of design, while wondering who it is made for. The use of simple geometric forms is combined with attentive research on new materials. Anna Castelli exploits the versatility of plastic to challenge ideas, prejudices and believes on objects’ value, from jars to office buildings. Her attitude to think in a complex and humanistic manner makes her today an utterly contemporary figure, particularly in the light of her ability to merge different disciplines, and combine rigor and formal control with emotional charge.
This exhibition aims to reveal affinities and correspondences between the work of two pivotal figures who paid special attention to designing their works, and were among the first ones in Milan to challenge the limits of painting and architecture respectively.