ABC-ARTE is dedicating a large retrospective to the three-dimensional work of Nanni Valentini (1932-1985), one of the most singular and lively personalities in the artistic explorations of the postwar period. The title ‘The space between the visible and the tactile’ is taken from a text by the artist published in 1975.
The exhibition will focus on a reconstruction of the crucial ten years from 1975 to 1985. After a long period of recognition as one of the most important living ceramic sculptors – in the late 1950s one of his collaborations was with Lucio Fontana on the monumental Melandri Tomb in Faenza, he won the Faenza Award in 1956, 1961 and 1977, the prize of the Syracuse Museum of Fine Arts in 1958 – this was the period in which he moved among a large and lively intellectual circle, from Tancredi to Scanavino, from Arnaldo and Giò Pomodoro to Sottsass. His breakthrough in Milan came in 1976 with the memorable one-man show of paintings and sculptures in Carla Pellegrini’s Galleria Milano.
His approach to material, colour and figure immediately marked him out as unique in the contemporary debate. His learned and wise approach, combined with the dry potency of his sculptural visions, had no parallel among them.
The early 1980s witnessed a series of one-man shows in major galleries: Babel in Heilbronn in 1981, Vera Biondi in Florence and Galerie -e in Munich in 1982, the Venice Biennale, and a participation in ‘La sovrana inattualità’ in the Museum des XX. Jahrhunderts in Vienna. In 1984 he had a large-scale one-man show in the Padiglione d’arte contemporanea in Milan (his Cratere entered the permanent collections of the Milanese Civico Museo d’Arte Contemporanea in Palazzo Reale), shows in the Museu de Ceràmica in Barcelona and once again in Galerie -e in Munich. In 1985 he was represented in the Galleria San Luca in Bologna. He died unexpectedly on 5 December 1985.
The present exhibition in Genova presents some thirty works that document the intense and ramified period of his maturity, featuring the sculptures, some of them of large dimensions, such as Muro grande del vaso e il polipo and Cerchio, and extremely rare works, such as some unpublished big works on paper and a series of Garze, exercises in the physical properties of monochrome, from 1975-1976.