From 13 February to 3 May 2009, the Kunsthaus Zürich
will present Hot Spots, an exhibition devoted to the artistic avant-garde of the 1950s and 1960s in Rio de Janeiro, Milan and Turin, and Los Angeles. The show features outstanding works of art, photography, architecture and design by such world-renowned figures as Hélio Oiticica, Lygia Clark, Lucio Fontana, Piero Manzoni, Mario Merz, David Hockney, Ed Ruscha and James Turrell.
The postwar period saw Paris and New York, the traditional capitals of the creative world, joined by fresh hot spots on the artistic landscape.
RIO DE JANEIRO: NEW CONCRETISM, BOSSA NOVA, CINEMA NOVO
Rio de Janeiros all-pervasive creative atmosphere during the 1950s and early 1960s produced a hotbed of culture. The buzzword was new, as in neoconcretism in art and architecture, bossa nova (new wave) in music, and cinema novo in the film world. A specifically Brazilian design was created, featuring formal concision and an emphasis on construction. The artistic movement known as neo-concretism was Brazils first contribution to a universal visual idiom. Hélio Oiticica, Lygia Clark and other pioneers of the geometrical abstract style reinterpreted the work of Piet Mondrian and Max Bill for a new generation, with an increasing focus on issues of space and spatiality.
MILAN/TURIN: FROM THE INFORMALE TO ARTE POVERA
Milan and Turin, in which the new Italian artistic identity emerged between 1958 and 1968, are emblematic of a decisive moment in Italian art. Milan led the way, as Lucio Fontana and Piero Manzoni developed the monochrome, minimalism, and a painting style which went beyond the frame to occupy space, and thus broke with Italys artistic legacy. Turin, a vibrant industrial centre, was next to take up the mantle as Italys artistic Mecca, as the Informale gave way to Arte Povera. The new movement was characterized by its use of poor materials, whether natural or artificial (as represented by Mario Merz), as well as by its utopian stance on politics and the ecology (as evidenced by Michelangelo Pistoletto).
LOS ANGELES: POP, MINIMALISM, ARCHITECTURE
The postwar art scene in Los Angeles interspersed dreams of felicity with nightmarish visions. The promise of sun and surf and happiness in Hollywood was juxtaposed with the exploitation of people and their dreams, as artists in L.A. oscillated between utopian projections and sarcastic responses to popular culture. James Turrell and Robert Irwin, for instance, drawing their inspiration from the light and landscape on the Pacific coast and in the deserts of the southwest, celebrated immateriality and physical liberation, while Ed Ruscha and David Hockney, among others, took southern Californias cults of the body, the automobile, and the star literally and began to play with the symbolic vocabulary arising from these phenomena. This same interplay was also reflected in contemporary Californian architecture, as represented by Case Study Houses, documented by Julius Shulman in iconic architectural photographs.
The exhibition is a collaboration with the Moderna Museet, Stockholm, where Paulo Venancio Filho and Annika Gunnarson (Rio de Janeiro), Luca Massimo Barbero and Cecilia Widenheim (Milan/Turin), and Lars Nittve and Lena Essling (Los Angeles) conceived it as Time and Place, a series of three independent presentations. Tobia Bezzola will coordinate curatorship of the show at the Kunsthaus Zürich, which unites three snapshots of as many artistic centres into an impressive triptych. A catalogue will be available at the Kunsthaus Shop and in book stores.