Tornabuoni Art is delighted to announce its first group exhibition in its London space presenting over forty works by Italian artists such as Afro, Boetti, Burri, Castellani, Fontana, Kounellis, Pistoletto, Scheggi and Zorio, to name but a few, who documented through their work the move away from the Italian artistic tradition of figuration after the 1930s. Curated by Sergio Risaliti, The Die is Cast explores through painting, and abstract sculpture in particular, how these artists created a rift in the ever-conflicting and unresolved relationship between tradition and the avantgarde.

Detachment from figurative and anthropomorphic representation was already close at hand in Italy at the end of the 1920s. To renounce the figurative reproduction of nature and reality seemed like a decisive and necessary step to discover a world of new inventions in which one could glimpse beyond tradition and towards the possibility of creating an artistic language that was more autonomous and absolute. Lucio Fontana, Fausto Melotti, and later Alberto Burri, Giuseppe Capogrossi and Afro, all contributed in generating this drastic move away from figurative language in favour of abstract signs, shapes, structures and gestures. This new avant-garde, so clearly outlined in the Manifesti of those years, (for instance Kn by Carlo Belli – considered the Gospel of abstract art – and Fontana’s Manifiesto Blanco) constituted an example for subsequent artistic experiments from the 1950s onwards, when for instance Piero Manzoni and Enrico Castellani were able to propose abstract art that was again different from that of the early avantgardes. The work of the previous generation of artists was also used as a reference point by artists of the neo-avant-gardes of the 1960s, such as Kounellis, Paolini, Pistoletto, Boetti and Zorio, who were grouped by Germano Celant in the Arte Povera movement.

Highlights of the show include Teatro Spagnolo, 1966, by Afro, a striking work by one of the pioneers of Italian abstraction, as well as a two and a half metre-high 1951 paper on canvas by Giuseppe Capogrossi that epitomises the artist’s research on pictorial language. Visitors will also see a large wall-installation by Jannis Kounellis, one of the foremost exponents of the Arte Povera movement since the 1960s, who continues to push the boundaries of intermediality and monumentality.

“To speak about “Italian art beyond tradition”, comments Sergio Risaliti, curator of the exhibition “means identifying in the century of the avant-garde and new avantgarde movements, the most significant stages of an evolutive leap that began overcoming naturalism and neo-classicism. This is what this exhibition is about, a glimpse into what happened after the 1930s in Italy.”

“Following our inaugural Lucio Fontana exhibition, we wanted to present a group show that furthered the exploration of abstraction in Italian art of the 20th century”, explains gallery director Ursula Casamonti. “These artists were guided by a common defiance towards the established cannons of the early Novecento that translated into a search for new space and for a new form of artistic expression free from the constraints of figuration. Such innovation befits our exhibition programme, through which we aim to present to the London audience the main figures of the Italian avantgarde, and how they enriched 20th century artistic research.”

To accompany the earlier show of the exhibition in Florence, the gallery has published a bilingual hardback monograph published by Forma, Florence. The catalogue features an introductory essay by Sergio Risaliti and profile essays on the artists in the exhibition.