This volume on one of the leading exponents of Italian sculpture continues the series of in-depth exhibitions and publications that ABC-ARTE is dedicating to the grand masters of the European avant-gardes, following the complex analysis of Fundamental Painting in the exhibition Absolute Painting.
Nanni Valentini is one of the most singular and lively personalities in the artistic explorations of the postwar period. 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 career of Valentini, who met a premature death in 1985, began with the prize that he was awarded in the Faenza National Ceramic Competition in 1956, followed by the one he won in 1958 at the Everson Museum of Fine Arts of Syracuse (New York State). His friendships with Fontana, Tancredi and the brothers Giò and Arnaldo Pomodoro, a strong attraction to the study of the most disparate intellectual fields, and his immersion in the Milanese scene of the 1960s rapidly carried his poetics from ceramics to a fundamental reasoning about the sculptural form and the image.
In the 1970s works such as Paesaggi d’argilla and Garze expressed his desire to reinterpret the clay of the earth as the possibility of infinite transitions and realities, and no longer as a simple medium.
This was the starting-point of his profound, immensely rich artistic poetics consisting of clumps of earth, landscapes, bricks, gauzes, faces and dwellings.
This volume concentrates on an examination of the crucial years 1975-1985. After a long period in which Valentini was recognised as one of the most important living ceramic sculptors, this was the decade in which he secured a place for himself on the Milanese scene with a memorable one-man show of paintings and sculptures in Carla Pellegrini’s Galleria Milano, a one-man show in the 1982 Venice Biennale, and a large-scale retrospective in the Padiglione d’arte contemporanea in Milan in 1984.
His works have also been shown and are present in many public and private collections, including the Museo del Novecento in Milan, the Museo Civico di Arte Moderna e Contemporanea in Varese, the Everson Museum of Fine Arts in Syracuse, the Fondazione Arnaldo Pomodoro in Milan, the Museu de Ceràmica in Barcelona, the Hetjens Museum in Dusseldorf, the Frankfurter Kunstverein, the GAM in Turin, the Galleria Civica in Modena, and the Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Faenza.