Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea GAM and the Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea present L’emozione dei COLORI nell’arte

Lucio Fontana, Concetto spaziale, 1956, olio giallo e vetri colorati su tela / yellow oil and colored glass on canvas, 100 x 70 cm, Collezione / Collection La Gaia, Busca, Courtesy Castello di Rivoli Museo d'Arte Contemporanea

By Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, Marcella Beccaria, Elena Volpato, Elif Kamisli Scientific in consultation with Vittorio Gallese, Michael Taussig

Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea GAM
Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea
14 March – 23 July, 2017

“For as long as we live, we’re alive. Color is life.”
(Etel Adnan, September 29, 2016)

The exhibition L’emozione dei COLORI nell’arte will be presented in the Manica Lunga of the Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea and at the GAM Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea of Turin. The public display includes an extraordinary collection of over 400 works by 125 artists and other practitioners from around the world, dating from the late 17th century to today.

“Over the past century, numerous exhibitions on color have been organized, starting from perception theories that became popular in the 1960s. This type of approach is derived from a universalistic notion of perception and its presumed objective value, quite distant from today’s awareness of the complexity of meanings inherent to color which is closer to Goethe than to Newton,” says Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev.

The exhibition investigates the use of color in art through artistic movements and research that stand apart from canonical histories on color and abstraction, with multiple accounts relating to memory, politics, spirituality, storytelling, psychology and synesthesia. Artworks come from museum collections such as the Reina Sofia in Madrid, MNAM Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, Paul Klee Zentrum in Bern, Munchmuseet in Oslo, Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, Tate Britain in London, and the Dia Foundation in New York, as well as from the collections of both the GAM-Torino and the Castello di Rivoli, and numerous private collections.

The precedents of modern abstract art are investigated through works by the followers of Hindu Tantric art (17th century) and the Theosophists (19th century) who used forms-color as sources for meditating and the immaterial transmission of thought. The starting point of theosophical abstraction is tied to the story of Annie Besant (1847–1933), who, circa 1904, wrote, “to paint in earth’s dull colors the forms clothed in the living light of other worlds is a hard and thankless task; so much the more gratitude is due to those who have attempted it. They needed colored fire, and had only ground earths.”

By analyzing the different color theories that gradually took shape in the turbulent socio-political context that characterized the 20th century, L’emozione dei COLORI nell’arte reflects on a perspective that considers light, its vibrations and the world of emotions, while challenging the standardization of the use of color in the modern age (synthetic colors) and the digital era (RGB colors offered by various online palettes), a leveling that considerably reduces our ability to distinguish colors in the real world.

The group exhibition covers the history, inventions, experience and use of color in modern and contemporary Western art and non-Western cultures present in today’s world. Through a multitude of accounts and presentations of important works of art, the use of color from various points of view is explored, including philosophical, biological, anthropological and neuroscientific perspectives.

The neuroscientist Vittorio Gallese, who along with Giacomo Rizzolati discovered mirror neurons, reflects on the emotional response not only to experienced actions but also to those only observed in an artwork, with particular attention to the relationship between the perception of colors “by subtractions” embodied in real paintings and the experience of reproduced images on screens where artworks are experienced through light. During the exhibition, a neuroscientific study lab will interact with visitors to the exhibition.

About Andrea Hammer 209 Articles
Andrea K. Hammer, founder and director of Artsphoria Magazine, is a Philadelphia-based freelance writer. She has published articles in international publications. Through this expanded edition of Artsphoria, she invites fellow artists, writers, innovators and creative thinkers to join our conversation!