Italy is still an art world leader
Sometimes it irks me that so many Italian Americans don’t know anything about Italian art apart from Renaissance masters like Michelangelo, Botticelli and DaVinci. It’s not that I don’t also revere this art. I do. When I began my art history degree, I concentrated on Italian Renaissance Art. I still treasure art from this time period and, as an Italian American, I’m very proud of the contribution Italy made to the development of Western art.
What dismays me is how Italian Americans don’t know that there is still great art coming out of Italy and how they look at me blankly when I mention names like “Maurizio Cattelan” or “Alighiero Boetti” or “Afro.” But then probably not many Americans – Italians or otherwise – know these artists.
The good news is that the art world is way ahead of us in embracing the genius that is Italian contemporary art. That explains why Cattelan and Boetti have been the subjects of two of this year’s largest museum shows, at the Guggenheim and MOMA respectively.
The nice people at the National Italian American Foundation, an organization I greatly admire, let me share my thoughts on Italian contemporary art on their blog. You’d be surprised how much of it there is in New York and L.A. this summer.
Even ArtInfo today published this very long article about Boetti. Note, I refer to him as Alighiero Boetti, not Alighiero “e” Boetti as the ArtInfo writer did because he did not use that moniker for his entire career. And, I’m not entirely sure I agree that an artist whose work has twice demanded over $2 million at auction in the past three years has not been “embraced” by the art market. But, hey, hip-hip-hooray for the prices his art will fetch after the impact of that article is felt.
I’m just grateful that Benjamin Genocchio provides so much coverage for Italian art — and Italy in general (you have to love all of Noah Charney’s great work) in ArtInfo (seems like he might be Italian from his name). Bravo to him for still embracing Italy despite the issues he has with Vittorio Sgarbi.
An Italian dealer told me recently, “I don’t like to work with Italian artists.” I hear that a lot from my Italian friends. They leave Italy and they don’t want anything to do with Italians. But, financially, I don’t think that’s very wise right now. By my estimations, Italian contemporary art is on the rise again.