Carla's revolt: Accardi at Museo del Novecento

November 24, 2020

In 1947, she joined the Forma 1 group. Her purpose was to represent the vital impulse that is in the world

Museo del Novecento in Milan dedicates the first retrospective in a public institution ever to Carla Accardi (1924-2014), one of the first women painters to achieve international fame. The exhibition, which runs until June 27 and is curated by Maria Grazia Messina, Anna Maria Montaldo, and Giorgia Gastaldon, aspires to provide an all-round image of the artist. After studying art in Palermo, Accardi settled in Rome, where she entered the realm of abstract creativity and, in 1947, founded the Forma 1 group together with Turcato, Attardi, Consagra, Dorazio, Perilli, and Sanfilippo. In those days, art was almost inaccessible to women; “art has always been the realm of man”, she says. She became an activist for women’s rights and worked together with art critic Carla Lonzi (1931-1982) and journalist Elvira Banotti (1933-2014). In 1970, she created an emancipation movement that, to grab attention, behaved in a quite explosive way. It was called Rivolta femminile (“female revolt”) and invited women to self-analysis, asking them to identify and put in play the mechanisms, desires, and hues that are typical of the physical, mental, and spiritual palette of the other half of the sky. The explosive nature of the movement shook and changed the society of the time. Drawing inspiration from great artists such as Kandinsky, Klee, and Mondrian, Accardi wielded her brush against figurative art. Her purpose was to “represent the vital impulse that is in the world”.

Art, like music, must be able to convey the sparks of spirituality

So, she started creating the Scomposizioni, works in which essential lines become more and more structural and break the geometric structure to become explosive white, black, and grey signs with variations in red and blue. In 1964, the Venice Biennale dedicated a whole room to Accardi, legitimizing her role on the international art scene. In the 1960s, she used brush strokes to create cryptic writings and hermetic idioms that, progressively, turned into spatial forms through the use of bright fluorescent paint on sheets of transparent plastic instead of canvas. Later, she created Tenda (1965) and Ambiente arancio (1966-1968), accessible structures that can interact with both the surrounding environment and the observer. “Colour is strength... I’m not interested in colour for its capability of bringing pleasure to the sense of sight, but for its power and ability to stimulate us.” From the 1980s on, Accardi started painting large maps on raw canvas, in which progressions of signs multiply. These works, which have poetically evocative titles such as Innumeri dal mare, Verde senza tregua, Malgrado gli sguardi, and Nelle ombre sui muri, are all abstract. “Art can and must be like music” and, like music, it must be able to convey the sparks of spirituality.

Carla Accardi

Museo del Novecento
Curated by
Maria Grazia Messina
Anna Maria Montaldo
Giorgia Gastaldon
Until 27/06 

The Author

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The daughter of collectors, she focuses on the history of visual art - her field of interest – and on writing - a passion she has cultivated since her childhood. A happy and fateful meeting as a teenager, while she was listening to Battisti, the Genesis and de André, led her to love Vivaldi, Beethoven, Schubert, chamber music and symphonic music. She is attracted to all the southern lands in the world, to the sea and to dark chocolate. She curates exhibitions and has written for different magazines in Italy and abroad. She feels happy and honoured to be a part of the AW ArtMag staff since its first release. Always looking for a motto, which she fatefully changes in tune with the dynamism of existence, in the present times she finds truth and comfort in Dante's "but to follow virtue and knowledge".

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