albertz benda is pleased to present Fausta Squatriti: Buster Keaton’s Walk and Early Sculptures. These two chronologically overlapping bodies of work, spread across adjacent installations, comprise the artist’s first exhibition in New York since 1969. Each selection isolates key motifs from the artist’s earliest series. The combination of paintings and sculptures offers new audiences a glimpse into the fantastically dynamic investigations, both material and conceptual, that have come to characterize Squatriti’s artistic practice.
Upon entering the first room, visitors will encounter a concise presentation of five small to medium scale steel sculptures (1967–1971) that have been sequestered from a larger series of three-dimensional works. Set in a quincunx formation upon a single plinth, the shiny array is intercut with planes of color to varying degrees of coverage. Just a few halos of color encircle the shiny steel arc of Anelli Passanti (1970) while the dark outer rectangle of Ripieno (1970) is literally stuffed with stalks of bright colors.
Identifying her distinct ability to conjoin mechanical and organic forms, art historian and critic Claudio Cerritelli states: “Any discussion of Squatriti’s sculpture must immediately take into account the combination of industrial and traditional materials (polyester, Plexiglas, lacquer, steel, iron, wood, and copper) in a sculptural idiom that was widespread throughout various movements of the Sixties, ranging from Pop to Minimalism to Program Art to geometric aniconic sculpture.”
As one transitions into the next room, three smaller scale steel sculptures (1967–1971) rest upon a plinth to the viewer’s right. To the left, a single, painted wood, wall sculpture La Passeggiata di Buster Keaton: Bagno d’Aria (Buster Keaton’s Walk, Air Bath), 1966 serves as the formal lynchpin between the sculptures and the neighboring paintings (1965–1967). In this small, theatrical, black diorama the artist has isolated some of the chromatic floating forms that populate and spill forth from Squatriti’s earliest series of paintings, Buster’s Keaton’s Walk.
On the heels of his first encounter with a highly frenetic New York City in 1928, Spanish poet, playwright, and theater director Frederico García Lorca penned El paseo de Buster Keaton. In horrified response, García Lorca re-casts Buster Keaton’s hapless and melancholic character as a sort of readymade who wanders through an absurd series of encounters. Citing her cue from Lorca’s experimental literary bricolage, Squatriti commences a cycle of abstract paintings in various sizes that glance back at Rococo and Surrealism while also presaging Postmodern syncretism. To bring her inspiration for the series full circle, this exhibition marks the first occasion in which La Passeggiata di Buster Keaton (Buster Keaton’s Walk) will be exhibited in New York.
Squatriti’s disciplined approach to synthesizing styles, reframing received formats, and setting disparate histories into dialogue has perhaps eluded viewers accustomed to singular statements. It is precisely the sophistication of her multivalent approach that invigorates this opportunity to encounter her work in the context of today.