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Indepth Arts News:

"Carlo Nangeroni: Works 1944 – 2005"
2006-06-16 until 2006-07-29
Esso Gallery
New York, NY, USA United States of America

Jennifer and Filippo Fossati are pleased to announce the opening at Esso Gallery of the exhibition by Italian artist Carlo Nangeroni. Excerpted from the catalogue essay - Carlo Nangeroni: An Art of Modular Nuance by Raphael Rubenstein - "It was toward the end of the 1950s that a number of artists began moving away from gestural abstraction, the mode that had dominated advanced painting, particularly in New York, for the previous decade. Carlo Nangeroni was one of the painters who participated in this “change of sensibility,” as Irving Sandler has characterized what was happening in the New York art world around 1960."

In the 1950s, there was a fairly intense artistic exchange between Italy and the U.S. (in particular, on the Rome-New York axis), but Nangeroni’s experience of the Italian-American connection began earlier and was more extensive than simply traveling from one county to the other for a gallery exhibition.

Born in New York in 1922, to Italian immigrants, he traveled to Milan to study art in the late 1930s. With the outbreak of the Second World War, he found himself, not yet 20, stranded in Italy, with an American passport. Nangeroni then became involved with anti-fascist partisans. As soon as possible, he returned to New York, where he began to paint seriously and had influential encounters with the sculptor Alexander Archipenko and avant-garde composer Edgar Varese. He also frequented the Abstract Expressionist milieu and became friendly with Willem de Kooning. Artistically and culturally, New York was his home, but his existence there required too many compromises, too much time spent away from his studio. Though it cut him off from the New York scene (to such an extent that over 40 years were to pass between solo New York shows—Meltzer in 1961, and Esso in 2006!), Nangeroni’s move to Italy, specifically to Milan, turned out to have significant esthetic benefits. By 1963, he had discovered the visual lexicon—essentially, a grid of similarly sized but differently configured circles—that he has continued to develop, with impressive results, ever since.

It was born out of his realization that the movement his arm made as he was painting was radial. What would happen, he asked himself, if he began to cut the brushstroke, to break up his slightly bent bands of color?

The crucial change in conditions of his work was that from 1963 on, he imposed strict limits on his visual language. Yet, he didn’t see these limits as restricting his artistic possibilities. After all, as he thought to himself at the time, “composers have done so many things for centuries with seven notes.”

American viewers new to Nangeroni’s work may see in his grids of circles a strong resemblance to Eva Hesse’s gridded circle drawings of 1966-67. The similarities between these two bodies of work are striking, though probably coincidental. Although Nangeroni began using this format several years before Hesse, it’s unlikely she saw his work. Instead, both of them, like other artists, musicians and writers, were part of widespread esthetic shift from the Romantic, expressive styles of the postwar period to an art more engaged with the West’s emerging post-industrial, media-saturated society, and influenced by the philosophical reorientation surrounding Structuralism.

Looking at Nangeroni’s oeuvre it is easy to discover his sense of visual play. In a Nangeroni painting, powerful effects are achieved by small shifts, subtle differences, nearly covert relationships of color and form. As a result, his canvases always repay close attention.

How great it is, after far too long an absence, to have Nangeroni’s paintings once again part of the New York art scene.


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