Sunday, August 25, 2013

Women artists of MAC: Movimento Arte Concreta

What critical attention that has been focused on the Movimento Arte Concreta has been on the male artists who formed the overwhelming majority of the members of MAC. So I thought before I turned my attention to the men I would post about the three women who contributed original art to Documenti d'arte d'oggi.

Simonetta Vigevani Jung (1917-2005)

The first of these is Simonetta Vigevani Jung. She was born Simonetta Irene Jung in Palermo, Sicily in 1917. She first exhibited in Milan in 1955, and in New York the following year at the Duveen-Graham Gallery. Her work is distinguished by its dynamic forms and vivid colours - though colour is not an essential element of her art, as two cool black-and-white studies in line and form go to show. I have to say I personally prefer the colour work, with its enticing sense of cosmic rhythm. Writing of her "Light Forms" (Forme Luce) paintings of 1955 (to which the first six of my lithographs are closely related), Albert Duveen remarks on their "lilting airiness": "The lyrical movements, detached and ethereal, are created with such vivacity that they bespeak of a joyous nature - their voluptuousness, a refined sensuality. Here then is a personal language, emotional but disciplined, stirring us to our very depth. Truly a revelation rarely produced before within the limits of the abstract."

Simonetta Vigevani Jung
Six untitled lithographs (Forme Luce), 1955

Simonetta Vigevani Jung
Two untitled lithographs, 1956-57

Simonetta Vigevani Jung
Untitled lithograph, 1958

Though there is a monograph on her work by Giuseppe Marchiori, Simonetta Vigevani Jung seems to have fallen into underserved obscurity. She was first married to Angelo Vigevani with whom she had a daughter Diana. Vigevani died in a car accident when their daughter was seventeen years old. She remarried and then lived in Brussels with her husband Hubert De Schryver who was a Belgian consul. Simonetta Vigevani Jung died in Brussels in 2005.

Carol Rama (1918- )

The second female member of MAC is Carol Rama. One of Italy's most important female artists of the twentieth century, Carol Rama was born in Turin on 17 April 1918. Though she is now best-known for her provocative drawings and paintings exploring female sexuality, in a naive, almost "Outsider" style, in the 1950s Carol Rama was also an active member of the Movimento Arte Concreta. At this period she often spelled her name as one word, Carolrama. I really like her abstract compositions of this period, with their distinctive arrangements of block forms connected by thin rods.

Carol Rama
Five untitled lithographs, 1955

Carol Rama and Albino Galvano (1907-1990)
Joint composition on one lithographic stone, 1956-57

Carol Rama's lifetime creating art was recognised at the 50th Venice Biennale in 2003, when she was presented with the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement. Major retrospectives have been held at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam and ICA Boston (1998), at the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo in her birthplace of Turin (2004), and at the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art (2005). In 2003 the Esso Gallery, New York, staged the exhibition Carol Rama, past and present.

Regina with her husband, Luigi Bracchi

Lastly, I have two lithographs by the sculptor Regina Cassolo Bracchi, who worked simply as Regina. Regina was born in Mede in 1894, and studied at the Brera Academy. She studied sculpture under Giovanni Battista Alloati. A member of the Futurists from 1933, Regina was also a member of MAC. After the disbanding of MAC, Regina continued to work in a Futurist style.

Regina (1894-1974)
Untitled lithograph, 1955-56

Untitled lithograph, 1956-57

Regina died in Milan in 1974. The Museo Regina in the Castle of Mede contains more than 500 works left by her husband the artist Luigi Bracchi. A 1991 monograph on her work by Luciano Caramel is now very hard to find. In 2010 the Fondazione Ambrosetti Arte Contemporanea staged an important exhibition on this neglected female artist, REGINA. Futurismo, arte concreta e oltre, curated by Paolo Campiglio.


Jane Librizzi said...

All new names to me, of course. Carol Rama;s work looks very 1950s, those round-cornered angular shapes look like the furniture of the period. Marimekko, too.
Vigevani Jung's color/shape combinations look like figure-skating patterns on ice.
In both Roma and Jung's work, the color does all the work. The lines are either non-existent or so attenuated as to barely register. Interesting.

Neil said...

All new to me, too, Jane. In fact of all the contributors to Documenti d'arte d'oggi, I think only Lucio Fontana was truly on my radar before I acquired these volumes and started looking into the artists involved. You're quite right about the very 50s feel of Carol Rama's work - you feel you could see these designs on a 50s coffee set, or pair of curtains. Simonetta Vigevani Jung's work perhaps looks more to the 60s, prefiguring Op Art. I love the comparison to figure-skating patterns, which sums up the gliding elegance of these compositions.

Jane Librizzi said...

Like accomplished skaters, Vigevani Jung makes her lines appear to glide effortlessly - but I bet it takes much practice to become so accomplished.