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3/09 2012

Neon, the bright matter of art

the bright matter of art

curators David Rosenberg and Bartolomeo Pietromarchi

Inauguration: Wednesday, June 20, 2012, 8.00 pm
Open to the public: up to November 4, 2012
via Nizza 138, Rome

From A “Neonized” Art
Georges Claude (1870-1960), the inventor of neon, took no pride in his invention. On the contrary, in 1933, in an article published in the Revue Générale de l’électricité, he confi ded: “Nevertheless, these rare gas tubes have until now only served, for the most part, to set off multicolored fi reworks in our city streets, which are not to everybody’s taste, and have inspired such detractors that I have not always been proud when it is discovered that I am the father of these horrors.”
Not everybody, however, shared this opinion. During this time, a select few– artists for the most part – saw things differently.
David Rosenberg

From “Neon in Italian art”
The craftsmanship required to manufacture neon would always distinguish it from other forms of electric lighting, along with its ability to “model” light into trajectories, shapes and signs in space – characteristics that attracted artists from the 30s onwards.
Bartolomeo Pietromarchi

The MACRO – Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Roma – presents, from June 21 to November 4, 2012, “NEON. La materia luminosa dell’arte” (NEON: the bright matter of art), Italy’s first large international exhibition dedicated to neon in art, curated by David Rosenberg and Bartolomeo Pietromarchi, and organized within the sphere of the partnership between the MACRO and Enel to mark the company’s 50th anniversary.
Conceived by Rosenberg and co-organized with Paris’ maison rouge, where it closed on May 20, 2012, the exhibition presents around sixty works by more than fifty artists – with a new selection for the Italian edition – who have utilized neon in their art from the 1940s to the present day.
The first neon sign was put up exactly one-hundred years ago at a Paris barber shop, and starting in the 1940s in Europe and the U.S., dozens of artists began to utilize neon in their work, exploring its linguistic, materic and conceptual possibilities, transforming this “bright matter” into a common element in international artistic practice. The exhibition – a sort of journey around the world and through the decades – thus develops via a series of themes, creating associations between works that are chronologically and geographically distant, but share the great expressive versatility of a material that is simultaneously industrial and artisanal.

The display in the large Enel hall offers an exemplary selection of works by great masters of the caliber of Dan Flavin, Joseph Kosuth, Maurizio Nannucci, Mario Merz, Francois Morellet and Bruce Nauman, as well as Maurizio Cattelan, Tracey Emin, Alfredo Jaar and Jason Rhoades, arranged along thematic lines that trace the various perspectives within which these artists dealt with neon. Purely linguistic analysis is thus juxtaposed with exploration of neon’s architectural and urban-design potential, and the geometric dimension with political and sentimental ones. The exposition also aims to underscore Italian art’s natural propensity towards this type of material: in fact, numerous Italian artists have utilized neon in their work, from international forerunners of the 1960s, such as Maurizio Nannucci, Mario Merz and Pierpaolo Calzolari, to artists of the contemporary period, in which neon continues to be reinvented in the work of artists like Maurizio Cattelan, Vedovamazzei and members of the younger generations such as Flavio Favelli, Piero Golia and Riccardo Previdi.

A few works will spill over into spaces outside the Hall: the drive to the museum entrance, the foyer, the Area space and the gangways to the first level. During the inauguration, Japanese artist Tsuneko Taniuchi will present a performance in the bar area entitled “Micro-Event n°25 / Public Communication Bar / VIP Cocktails”, which will last about an hour.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a bilingual Italian-English catalogue, published by MACRO-Quodlibet, which traces in detail the utilization of neon in the international art panorama of the past five decades, with texts by Bartolomeo Pietromarchi, David Rosenberg and Luis de Miranda. The overall exhibition project, exploring the concept of light and energy in the language of art, is presented through the support of Enel.

Artists in the exhibition:
Chul Hyun Ahn (born in 1971 in Busan, South Korea)
He An (born in 1970 in Wuhan – Hubei province, China)
Jean-Michel Alberola (born in 1953 in Saïda, Algeria)
Stephen Antonakos (born in 1926 in Laconia, Greece)
Olivo Barbieri (born in 1954 in Carpi, Emilia-Romagna, Italy)
Massimo Bartolini (born in 1962 in Cecina, Tuscany, Italy)
Jean-Pierre Bertrand (born in 1937 in Paris, France)
Pierre Bismuth (born in 1963 in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France)
Stefan Brüggemann (born in 1975 in Mexico City, Mexico)
Marie José Burki (born in 1961 in Bienna, Switzerland)
Pedro Cabrita Reis ( born in 1956 in Lisbon, Portugal)
Pier Paolo Calzolari (born in 1943 in Bologna, Italy)
Maurizio Cattelan (born in 1960 in Padua, Italy)
John Cornu (born in 1976 in Seclin, France)
Tim Davis (born in 1969 in Blantyre, Malawi)
Cédric Delsaux (born in 1974 in Paris, France)
Laddie John Dill (born in 1943 in Long Beach, California, USA)
Tracey Emin (born in 1963 in Croydon, UK)
Cerith Wyn Evans (born in 1958 in Llanelli, Wales, UK)
Flavio Favelli (born in 1967 in Florence)
Spencer Finch (born in 1962 in New Haven, Connecticut, USA)
Dan Flavin (born in 1933 in Jamaica, Queens, New York, USA, died 1996 in Riverhead, New York, USA)
Claire Fontaine (collective founded in 2004, active in Paris)
Piero Golia (born in 1974 in Naples)
Douglas Gordon (born in 1966 in Glasgow, Scotland)
Alfredo Jaar (born in 1956 in Santiago, Chile)
Gyula Kosice (born in 1924 in Košice, Slovakia)
Joseph Kosuth (born in 1945 in Toledo, Ohio, USA)
Brigitte Kowanz (born in 1957 in Vienna, Austria)
Piotr Kowalski (born in 1927 in Poland and died in 2004 in Paris, France)
Sigalit Landau (born in 1969 in Jerusalem, Israel)
Bertrand Lavier (born in 1949 in Châtillon-sur-Seine, France)
Marcello Maloberti (born in 1966 in Codogno, Lombardy, Italy)
Mario Merz (born in 1925 in Milan, died in 2003 in Turin)
François Morellet (born in 1926 in Cholet, France)
Andrea Nacciarriti (born in 1976 in Ostra Vetere, Marche, Italy)
Maurizio Nannucci (born in 1939 in Florence)
Moataz Nasr (born in 1961 Alessandria, Egypt)
Bruce Nauman (born in 1941 in Fort Wayne, Indiana, USA)
Valerio Rocco Orlando (born in 1978 in Milano)
Fritz Panzer (born in 1945 in Judenburg, Austria)
Anne e Patrick Poirier (born in 1942 in Marseille, born in 1942 in Nantes, France)
Riccardo Previdi (born in 1974 in Milan)
Delphine Reist (born in 1970 in Sion, Switzerland)
Jason Rhoades (born in 1965 in Newcastle, California, USA, died in 2006 in Los Angeles, California, USA)
Paolo Scirpa (born in 1934 in Syracuse, Italy)
Jamie Shovlin (born in 1978 in Leicester, UK)
Keith Sonnier (born in 1941 in Mamou, Louisiana, USA)
Pascale Marthine Tayou (born in 1967 in Yaoundé, Cameroon)
Tsuneko Taniuchi (born in 1946 in Hyôgo, Japan)
Massimo Uberti (born in 1966 in Brescia, Italy)
Bik Van der Pol (collective founded in 1995, the Netherlands)
Grazia Varisco (born in 1937 in Milan)
Vedovamazzei (collective founded in 1991, Italy)

via Nizza 138, Rome
Hours: Tues. – Sun., 11.00-19.00 /Sat.: 11.00-22.00
(ticket booth closes an hour before museum closing)

Tues. to Sun., gates open from 11.00 to 21.00 (via Nizza 138 and via Reggio Emilia 54) allowing access to free spaces: foyer, Hall, restaurant, café, terrace and Area space.

MACRO Testaccio
piazza O. Giustiniani 4, Roma
Hours: Tues. – Sun., 16.00-22.00
(ticket booth closes 30 minutes before museum closing)

MACRO via Nizza
Full price: non residents 12,00 €, residents 11,00 €.
Reduced price: non residents 10,00 €, residents 9,00 €.

MACRO Testaccio
Full price: 5 €
Reduced price: 3 €

MACRO via Nizza + MACRO Testaccio
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Reduced price: non residents 12,50 €, residents 11,50 €.

For information on reduced price ticketing:

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    Grandi nomi e opere di notevole pregio .Il neon è sempre un mezzo materico concettuale per esprimere una visione anche onirica del tempo e del pensiero.Franceben digitalart