VENICE.- In this 60th anniversary year of Peggy Guggenheims collection in Venice, her museum will host an exhibition dedicated to a major figure in Italian and international art of the mid 20th century: Carlo Cardazzo (1908-1963), a Venetian whose centenary is this year and who shared with Peggy Guggenheim his passion for contemporary art. Carlo Cardazzo. A New Vision for Art, curated by Luca Massimo Barbero, 1 November 2008 - 9 February 2009, is the first exhibition to be devoted exclusively to this enterprising, even volcanic figure: patron, publisher, collector, and dealer. Cardazzo, through the multiplicity of his activities, the originality of his way of navigating the art world and his methods of promoting it, reached a new public, in part through his galleries, and in part through novel cultural strategies.
The distinctive component of Cardazzos new vision of art was his precocious realization of the importance of networking and collaboration that would mark the art world of the future. On 25 April 1942, on the Riva degli Schiavoni in Venice, he inaugurated the celebrated Galleria del Cavallino, in the same year that Peggy Guggenheim opened her New York museum-gallery Art of This Century. In 1946, he opened the Galleria del Naviglio in the center of Milan, initiating a series of relations with critics and intellectuals, travelling constantly between Europe and the USA, bringing together artists of different generations as well as avant-garde architects, and printing outstanding publications that projected the image of his persona to the wider public. He was the first dealer to contract Lucio Fontana, after Fontanas return from Argentina, and it was for the Galleria del Naviglio in Milan that Fontana conceived his Spatial Ambience with Black Light.
Cardazzo was a creative powerhouse of the art world, a beacon to collectors, museum directors and gallerists. Peggy Guggenheim herself acknowledged his central position in promoting the new avant-gardes. They shared several of their concerns for modern art: the promotion of American art, their dedication to the historic avant-gardes, to Kurt Schwitters, Joan Miró, Sonia Delaunay, Pablo Picasso, Jean Arp, Giacomo Balla, Vasily Kandinsky, artists whom Cardazzo exhibited several times, sometimes with Guggenheims help, while he in turn brought to her attention artists whose work was to enter her collection. From the time of her arrival in Venice, Guggenheim sustained a dialogue with Cardazzo that was dense with contacts, proposals and exchanges of opinion about artists and movements: works by Victor Brauner, Matta, Emilio Vedova and Asger Jorn were purchased by Guggenheim from Cardazzo, and still belong to her Venetian museum. Again, it was due to Cardazzo that Guggenheim discovered and patronized Tancredi Parmeggiani, Giuseppe Santomaso, and Vinicio Vianello. Postwar art, especially Italian, concludes Guggenheims journey of discovery of the artistic avant-gardes that she had begun in London in 1938.
In July 1950 Peggy Guggenheim organized in Venice the first European exhibition of paintings by Jackson Pollock, an event that caused scandal at the time but which was to become a key event in the evolution of European painting. A few months later a similar exhibition, organized by Cardazzo in his Galleria del Naviglio in Milan, was a similar sensation. Cardazzo expanded his activities with public exhibitions (such as that given to Matta in 1953 in the Ala Napoleonica, Venice), and from 1955 with shows in the Galleria Selecta, Rome. In his travels and encounters, he met and exhibited American artists such as Franz Kline (whose New York atelier he visited in 1958), Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, Conrad Marca-Relli, Theodoros Stamos, Sam Francis, Alexander Calder, Cy Twombly, and Jasper Johns. He established relations with Ileana Sonnabend and Leo Castelli (exporting to New York members of his own stable of artists) and with Europeans such as Jean Dubuffet (for whom he recorded informel music), Hans Hartung, Jean Arp, Victor Brauner, Fernand Léger, Georges Mathieu, Giuseppe Capogrossi, Friedensreich Hundertwasser, Serge Poliakoff. He flanked the young Italians (Gianni Dova, Roberto Crippa, Emilio Scanavino) with members of the Cobra group (Asger Jorn for example). The number of his exhibitions, many of them mounted as virtual performances of a few days, is a measure of Cardazzos inventive power and frenetic activity: from 1942 to 1963, the year of his death, 1,049 exhibitions took place in his three galleries: Cavallino, Naviglio and Selecta.
Carlo Cardazzo. A New Vision for Art recaptures the creative verve of Cardazzos career. The first section reconstructs his personal collection in the 1930s and 40s. This was considered at the time among the major collections of 20th century art in Italy, with masterworks by Marino Marini, Giorgio de Chirico, Scipione, Mario Sironi and Massimo Campigli. Following this, documentation illustrates Cardazzos special relationship with architect Carlo Scarpa, whom he commissioned to design, at the height of the war, his Galleria del Cavallino, as well as a second Venetian gallery in the Frezzeria, and the Pavilion of the Book for the Biennale Gardens. A room is given over to the Edizioni del Cavallino which he founded in 1935: titles such as James Joyce, Jean Cocteau, Alfred Jarry, the Comte de Lautréamont: books, photographs, graphics, multiples as well as editions of ceramic sculpture with which he set out to launch Albisola as a center of art production. Carlo Cardazzo. A New Vision for Art brings to light a treasure trove of masterpieces, documents, objects, printed matter and manuscripts, much of it unpublished.
Support for this exhibition has been provided by the Regione del Veneto, by Art Forum Würth Capena (Rome) and by The Murray and Isabella Rayburn Foundation thanks to the generosity of Maurice Kanbar. Electa sponsored the catalogue. Grande Arredo contributed to the exhibition installation, and Gruppo Tratto to the transport of the works of art. Rubelli gave fabrics. Oracle provided technology. Hangar Design Group created the graphic design for communications. Radio Italia is media partner of the exhibition.
The catalogue, published by Electa, will assume a unique and indispensable position in the bibliography of Carlo Cardazzo and of his time. Essays by seventeen scholars and critics, lavishly illustrated, are the outcome of two years of research led by curator Luca Massimo Barbero.
The programs of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection are made possible thanks to the support of the Advisory Board of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection.