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Carla Accardi (Trapani 1924)

Carla Accardi was born in Trapani in 1924. Towards the end of the 1940s she attended the cursus studiorum of the young Formalists and Marxists, becoming one of the first women in the twentieth century to successfully carve out a prestigious niche within the avant-garde movement. In 1947, in this ambit, she helped set up the Forma 1 group, whose members included fellow southerners Consagra and Antonio Sanfilippo, whom she married in 1949. With them she took part in her first collective shows, many promoted by the Art Club in Rome, Florence, Turin and Milan. In 1950 she held her first one-woman show at the Age d’Or bookshop in Rome, followed shortly afterwards by those in the Salto bookshop in Milan and the Cavallino Gallery in Venice.
In 1954, after a year of “inner and existential crisis”, she met the art critic Michel Tapié, who had sponsored the Informel exhibition a few years earlier and had later baptized the post-Informal art he called autre. Tapié selected Accardi’s work for numerous high-profile collective exhibitions, including Individualités d’aujourd’hui (1955) and in the following year, Structures en devenir, both held in Paris. This earned her full membership in the golden circle of Italian art active on the international scene, along with Burri, Fontana and Capogrossi.
In the early 1960s, Accardi experimented with untraditional techniques and materials – Sicofoil, for example – and replaced wall-bound paintings with freestanding installations (leading to the Tende and Coni series). Later she returned to more traditional painting, always in a rigorously abstract key, and always placing at the heart of her image a bright, enchanted colour that was a worthy heir to Matisse. It was in this linguistic and emotional dimension that she charted her own creative trajectory – one that to this day is neither jaded nor academic.

Fabrizio D'Amico