Shout Magazine

Mark Kostabi on Carla Accardi in Minimalia

One evening, during an art world dinner party in the penthouse of the Roger Smith Hotel, I told the famous American painter, Jonathan Lasker, that I thought his work had a slight connection to the Italian abstractionist, Giuseppe Capogrossi. He immediately replied by saying: “You know whose work I really like is Carla Accardi.” I told him that Carla is a good friend of mine and if he were ever in Rome I could introduce them.

Now, Jonathan need not fly all the way to the most beautiful city in the world to meet the world’s most famous living female Italian artist because she and her work will be in New York for “Minimalia” at P.S.1. The show will be curated by the legendary art critic, Achille Bonito Oliva, who is widely known as the most influential promoter of the Italian transavant-garde, whose members include the three C’s: Sandro Chia, Enzo Cucchi and Francesco Clemente (Clemente’s retrospective at the Guggenheim is also a must-see this month).

For Carla to be the world’s most famous living female Italian artist is doubly impressive because Italy has such a patriarchal society. And it’s even more impressive because she’s an abstract painter in the Italian art world which strongly favors figuration. Since 1950 she has been exhibiting her lively, visually opulent, calligraphic, sometimes hard edge, sometimes painterly abstractions in prestigious galleries and museums throughout the world. Her work, frequently evocative of some exotic script or colorful music, is dazzling, mysterious and seductively decorative in the absolute best sense of the word. Listen, if you like the ultra-chic Philip Taafe of Jonathan Lasker or hot newcomers like Monique Prieto or Laura Owens, I strongly recommend that you check out the source of it all, Carla Accardi, who anticipated, by 40 years, many of the principal issues of 1990’s abstraction.

Also in “Minimalia” are Giacomo Balla, Farancesco Clemente, Lucio Fontana, Jannis Kounellis, Piero Manzoni, Mimmo Paladino and 47 other important Italian artists who have contributed to the history of minimalism.

October 1999