“Carol Rama: Antibodies” is the first New York museum survey of the work of Italian artist Carol Rama (b. 1918, Turin, Italy–d. 2015, Turin, Italy) and the largest presentation of her work in the US to date. While Rama has been largely overlooked in contemporary art discourses, her work has proven prescient and influential for many artists working today, attaining cult status and attracting renewed interest in recent years. Rama’s exhibition at the New Museum brings together over one hundred of her paintings, objects, and works on paper, highlighting her consistent fascination with the representation of the body. Seen together, these works present a rare opportunity to examine the ways in which Rama’s fantastical anatomies opposed the political ideology of her time and continue to speak to ideas of desire, sacrifice, repression, and liberation. “Carol Rama: Antibodies” celebrates the independence and eccentricity of this legendary artist whose work spanned half a century of contemporary art history and anticipated debates on sexuality, gender, and representation.
Encompassing her entire career, the exhibition traces the development from her early erotic, harrowing depictions of “bodies without organs” through later works that invoke innards, fluids, and limbs—a miniature theater of cruelty in which metaphors of contagion and madness counteract every accepted norm. The exhibition is curated by Helga Christoffersen, Assistant Curator, and Massimiliano Gioni, Edlis Neeson Artistic Director, and is accompanied by a fully illustrated publication.
Carol Rama was an Italian self-taught artist, born in 1918 in Turin, Italy, where she lived for most of her life until her death in 2015. Her work has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions and retrospectives, including the recent traveling exhibition The Passion According to Carol Rama (2015–16), presented at Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona; Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; Espoo Museum of Modern Art, Finland; the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; and Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Torino. Other important exhibitions include Carol Rama. Böse Zungen, Kunsthalle Düsseldorf (2012); Carol Rama. L’occhio degli occhi” Opere dal 1937 al 2005, Palazzo Ducale, Genoa (2008); Carol Rama: Paestum, Museo Materiali Minimi de Arte Contemporanea, Paestum, Italy (2007); L’opera incisa 1944–2005, Galleria Internazionale d’Arte Moderna Ca’ Pesaro, Venice (2006); Appassionata, Ulmer Museum, Ulm, Germany (2004–05); the traveling exhibition Carol Rama (2004–05), presented at Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin, Museo di Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto, Italy, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, UK, and Galerie im Taxispalais, Innsbruck, Austria; Opere 1936-2000, Palazzo Massari, Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea, Ferrara, Italy (2000); and the traveling retrospective Carol Rama (1998), presented at Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, and the Institute of Contemporary Art Boston. In 2003 she was awarded the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the Venice Biennale.