NEW YORK – The Center for Italian Modern Art (CIMA) will present the exhibition From Depero to Rotella: Italian Commercial Posters Between Advertising and Art from February 16 to June 10 at its Soho exhibition and research center. The show examines the cross-pollination between avant-garde art and commercial posters in Italy, with a particular focus on the interwar years and the early post-World War II era, during the country’s economic boom.
Nicola Lucchi, curator of the exhibition, explains that “while poster art has often been described as derivative in character, the show will demonstrate how, from Futurism onwards, Italian posters acquired a visual and communicative force that elevated the medium to a form of artistic expression in its own right, pushing the boundaries of lithographic techniques, photomontage and typography. The commercial posters’ peculiar ambition to deliver alluring forms and contents to the masses, rather than to an elite circle, also make them an object of socioeconomic and philosophical interest.”
With a starting date in 1926 (the year in which Depero exhibited the Venice Biennale a “quadro pubblicitario,” Squisito al selz) and an ideal closing date in 1957 (the year in which the television advertising show Carosello first aired on Italy’s public tv network RAI), the exhibition illustrates how the design of Italian commercial posters moved hand in hand with the artistic currents of its times.
The exhibition includes more than 30 posters from major Italian institutions and corporate collections, as well as a few select private collections in the United States. Among the artists featured are Erberto Carboni, Fortunato Depero, Nikolai Diulgheroff, Lucio Fontana, Max Huber, Bruno Munari, Marcello Nizzoli, Bob Noorda, Giovanni Pintori, Xanti Schawinsky, Mario Sironi and Albe Steiner. The works of these individuals illustrated the products of companies that made the history of the Italian economy, such as Barilla, Campari, Olivetti, Fiat and Pirelli.
As a visual and conceptual counterpoint to the narrative path traced by the commercial posters, the exhibition also includes a few artworks by Mimmo Rotella. An artist in the traditional sense of the word, Rotella’s decollages and retro d’affiches turn the medium of the commercial poster onto itself, in a gesture of critique and self-reflection.
The exhibition is open to the public on Fridays with guided tours at 11 am, 2 pm and 6 pm, and Saturdays from 11 am to 6 pm at CIMA, which is located at 421 Broome Street, 4th floor, New York, New York.
Founded in 2013, CIMA is a public non-profit dedicated to presenting modern and contemporary Italian art to international audiences. Through critically acclaimed exhibitions — many of them bringing work to U.S. audiences for the first time — along with a wide variety of public programs and substantial support for new scholarship awarded through its international fellowship program, CIMA situates Italian modern art in an expansive historic and cultural context, illuminating its continuing relevance to contemporary culture and serving as an incubator of curatorial ideas for larger cultural institutions. CIMA works to add new voices to scholarship on modern Italian art with annual fellowships that open fresh perspectives and new avenues of research. A visit begins with a complimentary espresso, followed by an informal exhibition tour with one of the resident fellows. Visitors are welcome to linger for additional viewing and conversation.
Visit the website for the Center for Italian Modern Art and see its dedicated page for From Depero to Rotella: Italian Commercial Posters Between Advertising and Art.