Painting in Italy 1910s-1950s: Futurism, Abstraction, Concrete Art

30 October 2015 – 23 January 2016
Sperone Westwater, New York

Press release

New York, 29 September 2015—Sperone Westwater is pleased to present Painting in Italy 1910s-1950s: Futurism, Abstraction, Concrete Art, a group exhibition of influential Italian painters working before, during and after World War II, curated by Gian Enzo Sperone. Featuring over 120 paintings spanning three major artistic movements, the exhibition illustrates the diversity and singularity of abstract art in Italy, seeking to afford more focused attention to a group of artists who revolutionized the historical sweep of painting in the context of interwar and postwar Europe and the United States.


Manlio Rho, Composizione, 1937

This exhibition concerns three periods from the early 1910s through the late 1950s, beginning with Giacomo Balla and Enrico Prampolini’s embrace of the Futurist manifesto and charting the development of Italian abstract painting under the growing political pressures of Fascism. The works on view are united in their vigorous challenge of the traditions of their time, each propelled by spirited experimentation and fervent revolutionary impulse. Often transcending the typical Futurist subject matter of racing car and mechanical city-scape, these works mark a distinct movement away from figuration as the primary vessel for an expression of feeling, instead investigating the emotional value of line, shape and color. As abstractionist painter Theo Van Doesburg expressed in 1930, “nothing is more tangible or more real than a line, a color, a surface… in painting, a woman, a cow or a tree is more abstract, more unreal, more vague than a surface or a line.” 


Painting in Italy 1910s-1950s: Futurism, Abstraction, Concrete Art relays a complex historical account of the fraught relationship between art and politics in Italy during the interwar and postwar period, attesting to the bumps, curves, utopias and traumas experienced by an eclectic group of artists working to assert a new pictorial language by challenging the dominant tenets of their culture. 

This exhibition features works by Carla Badiali, Giacomo Balla, Gianni Bertini, Annibale Biglione, Enrico Bordoni, Corrado Cagli, Roberto Crippa, Ezio D’Errico, Nino Di Salvatore, Nicolaj Diulgheroff, Gianfranco Fasce, Fillia, Lucio Fontana, Albino Galvano, Augusto Garau, Alberto Magnelli, Sante Monachesi, Gianni Monnet, Bruno Munari, Mario Nigro, Ideo Pantaleoni, Adriano Parisot, Enrico Prampolini, Mario Radice, Mauro Reggiani, Manlio Rho, Filippo Scroppo, Atanasio Soldati, Ettore Sottsass, Tato, Giulio Turcato, and Luigi Veronesi.

Painting in Italy 1910s-1950s: Futurism, Abstraction, Concrete Art is on view from 30 October – 22 December 2015. An illustrated 392-page book featuring an essay by Maria Antonella Pelizzari and an afterword by Gian Enzo Sperone will be published on the occasion of the exhibition. For more information, please contact:


Gallery Contact:
+1 212 999 7337


Media Contact:
Justin Conner, Third Eye
+1 917 609 8499

Exhibition publications

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Painting In Italy
1910s - 1950s: Futurism, Abstraction, Concrete Art
October, 2015

Exhibition press

A Tour of the Obscure: Painting in Italy, 1910s-1950s
by Judd Tully
19 January 2016
Painting in Italy 1910s-1950s: Futurism, Abstraction, Concrete Art
by Holland Cotter
15 January 2016
Broken Utopia: Abstract Painting in Italy
by Thomas Micchelli
2 January 2016
Sperone Westwater Gallery: Painting in Italy 1910s-1950s
by Lucia Piccioni
10 December 2015
The top five New York art shows this week
by Howard Halle
3 December 2015
Beyond Modigliani – alternative histories of modern Italian art in New York
by Rosalind McKever
23 November 2015
Golden Age: 20th century Italian painting takes the spotlight in New York
by Brook Mason
9 November 2015
That's your lot
by Georgina Adam
7-8 November 2015
"Painting in Italy" at Sperone Westwater
5 November 2015