Home Architect Piero Gilardi (1942–2023) – Artforum International

Piero Gilardi (1942–2023) – Artforum International

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Italian artist Piero Gilardi, whose “Tappeti Natura», or « Nature-Carpet », brings the desert into the gallery, died on March 5 in Turin at the age of eighty. His death was confirmed by his gallery, Michel Rein. Gilardi in the 1960s distinguished himself from his compatriots in the Arte Povera movement with his floor works in polyurethane mixed with vinyl resin and rubber latex. Evoking various environments such as a forest floor strewn with fallen logs, a rocky shoreline, or a green field and laid flat on the ground, these sculptures invited visitors to relax there and thus become part of the scene depicted. “The effect is an artificial nature in which the surprises and mysteries of true nature stimulate the brain but elementally flex underfoot,” he said in 1966. Writing in the pages of art forum in 2022, Elizabeth Mangini noted that the playfulness of these sculptures, which join nature to the future, “belies the conceptual work and technical skill that went into their making, as well as the complexity of the post-war moment in which the Italian artist’s project first emerged.”

Gilardi was born in Turin on August 3, 1942 to a Swiss family. While studying at the local Liceo Artistico, he met Michelangelo Pistoletto, ten years his senior, whom he would later credit as a profound influence. Gilardi became a major figure in the Arte Povera movement, of which Pistoletto was one of the main promoters, and whose members put “poor” materials at the service of work that challenged post-war conventions. In 1963 Gilardi staged his first solo exhibition, “Machines for the Future”, featuring a group of interactive contraptions that invited and responded to viewer interaction. Two years later, he exhibited the first “Tappeti Natura», which he will then show in Amsterdam, Brussels, Cologne, Hamburg, New York and Paris. During this time, he created other complementary works of the same nature, including a dress made of polyurethane birch logs and another made of rocks of the same material.

THE “Tappeti Naturawas so acclaimed that Gilardi was met with resistance from one of his exhibiting galleries when he tried to walk away from it. Rather than continuing to work in a vein he felt he had sufficiently exploited, he moved away from the commercial art world and became an activist and organizer, aligning himself with various student and labor groups. . In protest, he created a famous rubber effigy of Fiat owner Gianni Agnelli; his activism efforts took him to Nicaragua, Africa and the United States, where he worked on behalf of Native American causes. Interested in the then nascent artistic movements, including Land art and antiform art, he traveled a lot to discover them and participated in the organization of the first two international exhibitions of contemporary works of the time at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam and at the Bern Kunsthalle.

Gilardi returned to doing physical work in 1981 and resumed exhibiting, this time presenting creative public workshops as well. Sound 1985 IXIANA project, presented at Parc de la Villette in Paris, took the form of a technology park where the public could artistically engage with digital technologies. Technology plays an increasingly important role in his work, as evidenced by the multimedia interactive installations he creates from the 1990s. Gilardi also wrote prolifically for this era, regularly contributing to flash-art And Juliet and the publication of two books in Italian, 1981 Dall’arte alla vita, dall’arte alla vita (Art to Life, Life to Art), and 2000s Not to sell. In 2008, he inaugurated the public art space Parco Arte Vivente (Living Art Park) in Turin, intended to exhibit nature-themed earthworks.

Although he became more widely recognized later in his career, Gilardi did not reap the rewards that some of his more well-known Arte Povera comrades did. In 2017, he was the subject of a major retrospective at the MAXXI in Rome entitled “Nature Forever”; his first solo debut in the United States, at Cold Spring, New York’s Magazzino Italian Art, which closed last January. The artist remained optimistic about the future of his favorite subject until the end, despite the growing peril in which he found himself. Interviewed in 2019 by Juliet‘s Roberto Vidali to invent a slogan for the future, Gilardi’s response was short and pointed. “The planet is burning,” he said. “Let’s save everything together. »


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