Artuner and The Italian Cultural Institute (ICI) are pleased to announce the second instalment of their two-part exhibition series on post-war Italian sculptor Pietro Consagra (1920 – 2005) highlighting his important role in the history of twentieth-century sculpture. Featuring new works by contemporary French artist Marine Hugonnier (b. 1969) in dialogue with Consagra’s oeuvre, the exhibition will explore how both artists challenge deep-rooted cultural and historical frameworks to establish a new relationship between the viewer and their environment.

One of Italy’s most pioneering post-war sculptors, Pietro Consagra rejected the art historical tradition of three-dimensional sculpture to embrace a more direct mode of interaction between the artwork and the viewer. Working in bronze and iron, Consagra created radical sculptures that were flattened and almost two-dimensional. In this way, he disposed of a normative authoritarian centre in favour of a “frontal” outlook that would become his artistic credo .

Central to Consagra’s practice was an ongoing reflection on the language of sculpture in relation to other disciplines, including architecture. Consagra believed that the modern city was defined by the three-dimensionality of its architecture, its monumental rhetoric imposing a specific and authoritarian way of engaging with one’s environment. He proposed that the “central perspective”, which has dominated city planning for centuries, is an expression of a dogmatic and hierarchical organisation of Power and that this power can, in turn, limit one’s perceptual field. Thus, Consagra imagined a world without centres and peripheries, an idea that underpins his two-dimensional sculpture.

Similarly, Marine Hugonnier also proposes a different way of looking at history and its perceptual framework. Often described as a critique on the politics of vision, Hugonnier’s work questions the nature of images and the history, culture and politics that are associated with them. Between 2005 and 2007, Hugonnier initiated a series of collages entitled ‘ Art for Modern Architecture ’ (2004–), using cut-outs from Ellsworth Kelly’s book, Line, Form, Color to cover the images on the front pages of newspapers. The series is a nod to Kelly’s utilitarian belief that art should serve public spaces and buildings. Hugonnier transposes this concept to another medium – that of the newspaper – the ‘architecture’ of which frames everyday life.

For this exhibition, Hugonnier has created a new series of collages based on vintage editions of the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera. The newspapers date back to Italy’s turbulent Years of Lead (1969–1980), corresponding to the most active years of Consagra’s practice as well as to the politics of his time. By blocking out newspaper images of well-known historical events, such as the Piazza Fontana Bombing in Milan (1969) and the Bologna Massacre (1980) , Hugonnier highlights the power of the media as we realise that we can still 'see' what is behind the colour blocks; the images are burned into our memories through their repeated appearance in our lives. Hugonnier holds back information in order to question it and, in doing so, she disrupts normative narratives of propaganda, spectacle and power and overcomes the limitations imposed by Power that concerned Consagra.

The boldly coloured, geometric shapes that characterise Hugonnier’s ‘ Art for Modern Architecture ’ series are echoed throughout Hugonnier’s practice. For instance, the ‘Modeles’ are a series of three-dimensional collages in five colours invented by Swiss-French architect, Le Corbusier. By fragmenting a modernist form, Hugonnier deconstructs the modernist worldview in order to reveal its constituent parts and to question the movement’s premises and traditional concepts. Hugnonnier laments the loss of modernism’s utopian and progressive values and aspirations; these works then can be seen as ‘revisions’ of those values and a challenge to re-think them in postmodern times.