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Pier Paolo Calzolari (B. 1943)
Pier Paolo Calzolari (B. 1943)

Abstract in your home

Pier Paolo Calzolari (B. 1943)
Abstract in your home
neon, cables, transformers
62 7/8 x 65 3/8 x 16 ½in. (160 x 166 x 16.5cm.)
Executed in the 1970, this work is from an edition of three
Galleria Tucci Russo, Turin.
Acquired from the above by the previous owner and thence by descent to the present owner.
Pier Paolo Calzolari, exh. cat., Paris, Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume, 1994, p. 178 (another from the edition illustrated, p. 179).
New York, Sonnabend Gallery, Pier Paolo Calzolari, 1971 (another from the edition exhibited).
New York, Barbara Gladstone Gallery, Pier Paolo Calzolari, 1988, p. 89 (another from the edition exhibited, illustrated in colour, p. 68).
Sale Room Notice
This Lot is Withdrawn.

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Alessandro Diotallevi
Alessandro Diotallevi

Lot Essay

Comprising solely of a triangle made from three neon lights and a handwritten neon light text that articulates the words ‘Abstract in Your Home’ this large neon sculpture/installation is a major work by Pier Paolo Calzolari executed at the height of his involvement with ‘Arte Povera’. First exhibited at the Sonnabend Gallery in 1972, the suggestive and evocative title of this work was also recently adopted as the title of an important exhibition of Calzolari’s work held at the Marianne Boesky Gallery in 2012.

Executed in 1970, Abstract in Your Home belongs to a period in Calzolari’s career when he was highly influenced by the work of Julian Beck and Judith Malina’s ‘Living Theatre’. This was a radical experimental theatre troupe who pursued the ideal of breaking down the barriers between art and life by spontaneously generating dramatic art out of the practice of perpetually living, loving, working and travelling together as a collective creative enterprise. Exiled from the United States for much of the 1960s, the group travelled throughout Europe for much of the decade and in Italy especially, played a major role in forging the avant-garde attitudes and approach to their work of several arte povera artists, particularly Pascali, Pistoletto and Calzolari.

With its use of neon tubes to form a strong geometric triangle and its simple use of a horizontal neon text announcing ‘abstract in your home’, this work, at first glance, adopts the formal language of 1960s American Minimalist and Conceptual artists like Dan Flavin or Joseph Kosuth. As always in Calzolari’s work however, his intention here is anti-formalist. While the simple geometric sculpture hangs on the wall, its neon light radiates outward and illuminates the space all around it. Most notably in the handwritten neon inscription, a legible shadow also becomes visible on the wall upon which the work is set, here appearing like the emergence of a secret script. In this way, the work reveals itself to be an expansive entity that moves outwards from the constraints of its simplistic formal properties into wider realms of reality and life.

‘There is an obtuse dimension that wants to gauge and define itself’, Calzolari wrote in 1968, ‘I wish it to be known that no one can gauge my need to expand myself and of perceiving for a span of time and more…I wish it to be known that I don’t want moments of awareness, that I want to be alive as much as possible and expanded as far as possible.’ (Pier Paolo Calzolari, ‘Ideal Home’, 1968, quoted in Carolyn Christov Bakargiev, (ed.) Arte Povera, London 1999, p. 241)

As can be witnessed here in Abstract in Your Home, much of Calzolari’s work is concerned with the expounding of an inner mystery or poetics through the simplest and most ordinary of forms and media. ‘I’m interested in the relationship between the hermetic and the vulgate,’ he has said, ‘that is, how what is hermetic, secret, encoded is embodied and thus becomes a passage towards the vulgate, a passage that is still secret but can be savoured, a mystery beyond which lies the vulgate...I think its important to combine the two: not for the sake of convenience, for the sake of survival...Nowadays the issue of secrecy is fundamental. When I taught, I always tried to tell my students that things, volumes have a voice. I’ve always asked people to listen to the murmuring of things, the voice of objects, their secrets.’ (Pier Paolo Calzolari ‘Conversation with Massimiliano Gioni in Pier Paolo Calzolari, exh. cat., Pistoia, 2011, unpaged)

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