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National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art explores the role of the vase in art
Installation view. Photo: Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea.

ROME.- With the exhibition On Flower Power. The Role of the Vase in Arts, Crafts and Design, curated by Martí Guixé with Inga Knölke, the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea radically and unconventionally explores the hybrid territory in which art, design and craftsmanship interact.

This exhibition represents the first occasion for the Galleria Nazionale to compare these languages in relation to contemporary art and focuses on a seemingly neutral object: the flower vase. This element, a recurring archetype, becomes the principle medium for a narrative that intertwines the history of art, the history of applied arts and the history of design.

After becoming an obsolete object, the vase was rediscovered in the second half of the twentieth century when artists, architects and designers began to re-code a typology, which has now become a real icon of everyday life. Thanks to the shapes and heterogeneity of use and dimensions, the role of the vase as a mere container has been reconsidered and it has become a kind of training ground of design through which to show one’s creativity and point of view.

On Flower Power focuses on the empathetic power of the flower and how this emotional factor is reworked within the various disciplines: “A hybrid look,” says Guixé, “at art, craftsmanship and design through an object that is already transversal in itself, the flower vase, which also becomes empathetic precisely because of its ability to find an emotional complicity with its observer. In the exhibition, the flower vase, through the interpretation of the artist, craftsman or designer, becomes an empathetic object and in a way a subject of our near future.

On display there are more than eighty works that reinterpret the tradition and iconography of the vase through design, photography, sculpture and painting. Among the works some from the most important protagonists of the international design scene such as Enzo Mari (Cerano, 1932) and Gaetano Pesce (La Spezia, 1939) to the Mendini Vase Project, a work (produced for Alessi in 1992 by the Milanese architect Alessandro Mendini) that includes the works of 100 artists such as Brian Eno, Robert Venturi, Milton Glaser and Ettore Sottsass.

Reflection around the vase continues in the elegant aesthetic research by the Dutch-born designer Hella Jongerius (Utrecht, 1963), the provocative language of Tobias Rehberger (Esslingen, 1966) and the irony of Franz West (Vienna, 1947 – 2012). The common denominator of the selected artists is the formal experimentation and conceptual provocation, which is evident in the sculptures by Austrian artist Oliver Laric (Innsbruck, 1981) and in the hybridisation of the expressive languages of the duo Aurora Sander.

A serie of photographic prints and five examples of the FAD Cup, the trophy that every year the FAD – Foment de les Arts i del Disseny – commissions to contemporary artists and designers (just to name a few, Antoni Cumella, André Ricard, Oscar Tusquets, Jaume Plensa, Joan Brossa, Tapies, Antoni Miralda, Mariscal, Fernando and Humberto Campana, Elias Torres, Martín Azua and Marc Monzó); the trophy is also included in Simone Bergantini’s research, of which part of the photographic series Trophies is exhibited, trophies, deconstructed and recomposed by the artist in total freedom.

On the walls of the Salone Centrale, there are about thirty still lifes from the gallery’s collection where flowers and their containers are the dominant subject. Among the many are works by Filippo De Pisis, Mario Mafai, Giorgio Morandi, Gaetano Previati and Toti Scialoja.

The catalogue is published by Corraini Edizioni, with contributions by Martí Guixé, Giuseppe Finessi, Octavi Rofes and Jeffrey Swartz.

Artists in display: Martín Azua, Simone Bergantini, Chiara Bettazzi, Marina Bolla, Chiara Camoni, Coudre, Antoni Cumella i Serret, Sabine Delafon, Nicolaj Diulgheroff, Elena El Asmar, Haris Epaminonda, Nicola Filia, Marguerite Friedländer-Wildenhain, Nancy Graves, Kodai Iwamoto, Hella Jongerius, Markus Kayser, Inga Knölke, Oliver Laric, Enzo Mari, Ursula Mayer, Javier Mariscal, Alessandro Mendini, Paolo Meoni, Marc Monzó, Takashi Murakami, Luigi Ontani, Gaetano Pesce, Pierluigi Piu, Tobias Rehberger, André Ricard i Sala, Aurora Sander, Trinci, Franz West.

From the collections: Antonio Agostani, Luigi Aversano, Mario Bacchelli, Baccio Maria Bacci, Ugo Bernasconi, Domenico Caputi, Felice Carena, Francesco Chiappelli, Arnout Colnot, Vincenzo Colucci, Filippo De Pisis, Gabriella Denis-Rault, Giuseppe Guzzi, Maria Lehel, Enrico Lionne, Mario Mafai, Pietro Martina, Marino Mazzacurati, Pietro Melecchi, Rolando Monti, Giorgio Morandi, Guido Peyron, Gaetano Previati, Ilario Rossi, Angelo Savelli, Toti Scialoja, Antonio Simeoni, Carlo Siviero, Arturo Tosi.

Martí Guixé (Barcelona, 1964) is a designer, trained in Barcelona and Milan, whose work transcends the usual boundaries of this discipline; among the museums in which he exhibited are MoMa in New York, the MACBA in Barcelona, the Triennale in Milan, MART in Rovereto, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Mudac in Lausanne and the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea in Rome.

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