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From 1970 Onwards: Other Forms of Abstract Art

During the 1970s, and especially towards the end of the decade, the highest and most innovative period of abstract painting can be said to have culminated throughout the world – at least as a unique or privileged domain for the most advanced artistic research. Its dominion – constantly challenged not only by a broad segment of the public and critics (and not just the most reactionary of them; see for all Roberto Longhi’s position in Italy), but also by parallel artistic experiments in figuration – ultimately remained undisputed. This is especially true when one considers overall developments in the visual arts from the start of the century up to the remarkable, almost simultaneous advent of conceptualism and pop art, and later of post-minimalist sculpture, which spread in various forms throughout Europe and America. With it, the traditional laws of sculpture also definitively entered into crisis as did the rigid separation that a century-old aesthetic speculation had traced between sculpture and painting.
As aesthetic theory evolved, however, the number and quality of the cases of permanence of the oldest languages remain striking. Some of the most important examples, as regards Italian art, are documented in the collections of the Bank of Italy. We owe their existence to members of previous generations who innovated without abandoning the old techniques; to artists that flourished in artistic grounds that were closer to the various declinations of conceptual art in Italy, and with it Arte Povera (which in reality was one of the formulations of international post-minimalism); and finally, to younger artists who in this period (the last thirty years of the century) were bent on recovering the canons of an abstract tradition of modern art.
Foremost among these were the experiments by Corpora, who in later years embraced a more intensively lyrical style; by Afro, inclined to a geometrical form of abstraction; by Scialoja, intent on recouping the free gestural expressiveness of 1956 and 1957 that he had abandoned in favour of the space-time “quantities” of the “Impronte”; by Perilli, Dorazio and Carla Accardi. All were members of Forma Nuova, all were intent on formulating an image still based on the standard identified by each in their early maturity: respectively, wild and Dadaist geometry, light and its transparency, and the sign submerged in the mantle of colour.
Of note in the second group are the works of Paolini, Calzolari and Gastini. Among the youngest of them, mentioned here only by way of example, we recall the rigorously geometrical paintings of Marco Tirelli and the transfigured, denuded “landscapes” of Silvio Lacasella.

Fabrizio D'Amico