The Experience of Colour


Aldo Schmid, Untitled, 1976-77

Astrazione Oggettiva

The Experience of Colour
13 April – 26 June 2016

Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art, London

The Experience of Colour is the first exhibition in the UK to focus on the work of a little-known moment in Italian art in the 1970s, when a group of six painters in Northern Italy, reacting against what they considered to be the superficiality of contemporary culture, issued a ‘Manifesto of Objective Abstraction’. Placing colour at the heart of their aesthetic investigations, they produced works that were both conceptual and lyrical. The show features some of the most important pieces by each of the group’s members and runs at London’s Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art from 13 April to 31 July 2016.
The 1976 manifesto of Mauro Cappelletti (b.1948), Diego Mazzonelli (1943-2014), Gianni Pellegrini (b.1953), Aldo Schmid (1935-78), Luigi Senesi (1938-78) and Giuseppe Wenter Marini (1944-2015) reflected an innovative tendency in tune with the international artistic debates of the time, focusing on painting. It echoed the ideas of avant-garde groupings of the early twentieth century such as the Bauhaus, but also the geometric approach of later ‘concrete’ painters and the optical-perceptual research of the 1970s.

Although these six painters shared a profound interest in colour, each possessed a unique and independent artistic vision. Their manifesto was never intended to set restrictions on creative expression, but to indicate the general direction of the group’s work. As the exhibition’s curator, Giovanna Nicoletti, explains:

‘A common denominator between the six artists was the relationship they perceived between colour and light, experienced as new condition of the human spirit, separated from the rest of nature. Aldo Schmid adopted a scientific approach to the subject; Luigi Senesi developed a graduated chromatic structure; Diego Mazzonelli investigated the ‘absorbency’ of black; Giuseppe Marini Wenter dilated space through the use of transparent colours; Mauro Cappelletti defined the different areas of his works with directional lines, and Gianni Pellegrini conceived of his brushstrokes as calligraphic elements possessing a pulsating energy.’

Although tragically cut short by the sudden deaths of two of its key members, Aldo Schmid and Luigi Senesi, the group’s experimentation nevertheless represents a notable contribution to the evolution of abstract painting in post-war Italy.

About the Estorick Collection
The Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art is internationally renowned for its core of Futurist works. It comprises some 120 paintings, drawings, watercolours, prints and sculptures by many of the most prominent Italian artists of the Modernist era. There are six galleries, two of which are used for temporary exhibitions. Since opening in 1998, the Estorick has established a reputation and gained critical acclaim as a key venue for bringing Italian art to the British public.

Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art,
39a Canonbury Square,
London N1 2AN
T: +44 (0)20 7704 9522

Twitter: @Estorick

Opening Hours
Wednesdays-Saturdays 11.00-18.00, Sundays 12.00-17.00
Closed Mondays & Tuesdays
Admission: £5, Concs £3.50. Includes entry to exhibition and permanent collection.
Transport: Victoria Line, Overground and First Capital Connect to Highbury & Islington.

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