The great protagonists of American art brought together in a major exhibition at Palazzo Strozzi

Opening on May 28, 2021 at Palazzo Strozzi is the major exhibition dedicated to American Art: American Art 1961-2001. From Andy Warhol to Kara Walker.

From May 28 to August 29, 2021, Palazzo Strozzi presents the major exhibition American Art 1961-2001. From Andy Warhol to Kara Walker, curated by Vincenzo de Bellis (Curator and Associate Director of Programs, Visual Arts, Walker Art Center) and Arturo Galansino (General Director, Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi), which aims to celebrate modern art from the United States of America through more than eighty works by artists such as Andy Warhol, Mark Rothko, Louise Nevelson, Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg, Bruce Nauman, Barbara Kruger, Robert Mapplethorpe, Cindy Sherman, Matthew Barney, and Kara Walker. The works, some of them for the first time in Italy, are on display through a collaboration with the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.

Along the exhibition path are placed important and iconic works by artists and movements that have marked American art between two very significant historical moments, namely the beginning of the Vietnam War and the attack of September 11, 2001: from Pop Art to Minimalism, from Conceptual Art to the Pictures Generation, to the most recent research of the 1990s and 2000s.

The exhibition testifies to the multifaceted American artistic production among painting, photography, video, sculpture and installations, proposing a new reinterpretation of forty years of history and addressing issues such as the development of consumer society, contamination between the arts, feminism, and civil rights struggles. In 1961 John F. Kennedy becomes president and on December 11 the Vietnam War officially begins when the first American helicopters arrive in Saigon; in 2001 George W. Bush is president when on September 11 nearly three thousand people die in the most dramatic attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor. These two years become watershed dates that define the establishment of the United States as a political superpower, but they also mark an era of unprecedented experimentation in art for which America becomes a global reference point.

In an itinerary featuring the works of more than fifty artists, we focus on some key figures of these forty years. Central is Andy Warhol, whose twelve works are presented, including the famous Sixteen Jackies (1964), dedicated to Jackie Kennedy in the aftermath of JFK’s death. A special section is devoted to the father of contemporary dance, Merce Cunningham, whose research is presented through large installations born of his collaboration with Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns.

The great season of the 1960s is witnessed through works by masters such as Donald Judd, Robert Morris, Bruce Nauman, and John Baldessari: figures who became reference points for subsequent generations of artists redefining the new possibilities of art. These include Cindy Sherman’s reflections on the figure of woman, the appropriations from the world of advertising by Richard Prince and Barbara Kruger, Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ denunciation of the AIDS stigma, or the disturbing posthuman narratives of Matthew Barney, whose installation Cremaster 2 (1999), a controversial work dedicated to a murderer who requested the death penalty for himself, is presented in a way never before seen in Italy. Finally, a special focus is dedicated to the most recent research of the 1990s and 2000s, among which stand out reference figures for the African-American community such as Kerry James Marshall and Glenn Ligon or artists who investigate in a totally original way theAmerican identity such as Paul McCarthy, Mike Kelley, Jimmie Durham, and Kara Walker, whose wide selection of video works and drawings are offered as evidence of her evocative research between history and social satire around issues of racial discrimination.

"The United States of America represents a complex meltin’ pot of different cultures, traditions and identities: one of the historical prototypes of contemporary democracy that still today, more than ever, holds deep social, racial, and gender contradictions," said Vincenzo de Bellis. “Art allows us to be able to tell the layers of such a complex society. And this is what the exhibition American Art 1961-2001 aims to do, conceived as a narrative through the multiple artistic expressions of the US. This narrative makes use of the extraordinary works from the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, which houses one of the most unique and important museum collections in the United States and the world. The richness and diversity of its works prove that a single story of America and its art does not exist; rather, there are countless stories and figures that open up further new narratives and possibilities.”

“After a difficult year like 2020,” added Arturo Galansino, "the exhibition wants to give a signal of restart for the social and cultural life of Florence and Tuscany, first of all for our local audience, but also as an offer for national and international visitors."American Art 1961-2001 stands as a major cultural event celebrating American art while also addressing important themes such as civil rights struggles and the role of women in art: an original and evocative project for a renewed reflection on the idea of the ’American Dream’ thanks to the works of artists who redefine the role and possibilities of art, including as a tool to address and highlight issues and contradictions that touch on politics, society and individual identity, American and beyond."

The exhibition is sponsored and organized by Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi, Florence, and Walker Art Center, Minneapolis. Supporters Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi: City of Florence, Tuscany Region, Florence Chamber of Commerce, Fondazione CR Firenze, Palazzo Strozzi Partners Committee, Intesa Sanpaolo. Premium sponsor: Gucci. With the support of Enel.

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Photo by OKNO studio

The great protagonists of American art brought together in a major exhibition at Palazzo Strozzi
The great protagonists of American art brought together in a major exhibition at Palazzo Strozzi

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