September 19 – November 28, 2015
Opening: Saturday, September 19 at 7pm
From September 19, the Marino Marini Museum in Florence, Italy, will be hosting a solo exhibition of work by Betty Woodman, curated by Vincenzo de Bellis.
In Woodman’s more than sixty years of a prolific artistic career — 45 of which were spent living between New York and Antella (near Florence) — the artist has exhibited her work in some of the most prestigious museums and spaces, from The Metropolitan Museum in New York to the Palazzo Pitti in Florence. Over the years, through work that invokes and at the same time challenges the traditional elements of Italian ceramicists, the American artist has imaginatively reinvented the very concept of ceramics, finding her personal and highly authorial place within the contemporary art scene. It is no coincidence that her most recent works – the last 15 years of work presented in the exhibition – have played a vital role for at least one generation of young artists, who have taken her experimental approach that is still respectful of tradition.
Even though ceramics remains the alpha and omega of her artistic dictionary, through the use of bright colors and eccentric shapes, her works have progressively gone beyond the boundaries of decorative art to forcefully enter into the area of the visual arts, often crossing boundaries into painting: in Woodman’s work, a vessel can take the forms of human bodies and animal figures, pillows or flowers, compare a history of different cultures – from Greece to China with Aztec, Etruscan, or Roman references, ranging to the Italian Renaissance or casting classical architectural shadows on objects illuminated by the light of European pop art (without ever forgetting the debt to American painting of the 1970s).
It is a mix of ceramics and painting, made even more explicit by the recent addition of canvases with three-dimensional elements, and intentionally emphasized in this exhibition: here Woodman’s works could be directly compared with Marino Marini’s sculptures, on the one hand – through a staging, in the mezzanine of the museum, which highlights the synergies – and on the other, with the heroic painting adventure of the Florentine quattrocento – the 15th-century – specially echoed by the work that opens the exhibition, named “Of Botticelli” from 2013. It is a composition that fills the first room of the exhibition with ceramic fragments that allude to columns wrapped by vines and Renaissance views that open onto imaginary gardens.
After the Marino Marini Museum, the exhibition will have a second stop at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in London, from February 2 to April 10, 2016, where it will be re-organized and restaged, again curated by Vincenzo de Bellis. For the double exhibition, a monograph on the artist will also be published, with the purpose of reinterpreting the developments and rediscovering her role within the history of American painting from the second half of the 20th century to today.
The exhibition is organized with the sponsorship of the OAC Ente Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze, thanks to the collaboration with Antinori Art Project.
Betty Woodman (born in 1930), internationally recognized as one of the most important contemporary artists, began her career in 1950 as a ceramist with the intention of creating objects whose beauty could enrich everyday life. Since then the “vase” shape has become an object of study for her, as well as her inspiration and basis for production. To deconstruct and rebuild its form, she created a complex and exuberant body of ceramic sculpture that distinguishes itself for the wide range of influences and traditions, along with a creative use of color. The artist experienced many of these traditions firsthand during her numerous trips, finding inspiration in various cultures around the world.
Betty Woodman studied ceramics at the School for American Craftsmen at Alfred University in Alfred, New York, from 1948 to 1950. She has received many honors, including the Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship of the Study Center in Bellagio, Italy in 1995, in 1980 and in 1986 the National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, and in 1966, the Fulbright-Hays Scholarship in Florence. She began to teach at the University of Colorado in Boulder in 1979 and became a “professor emeritus” in 1998. She received an Honorary Degree in Literature from the University of Colorado in 2007 and graduated in fine arts from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in 2006. Married to George Woodman, painter and photographer of international fame, she had two children with him, Charles, a video-artist and Francesca, a photographer who died in 1981.
Since 1968, her works have frequently been included in group exhibitions and are part of more than 50 public collections, including: Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Massachusetts, International Museum of Ceramics in Faenza, Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Musée des Arts Decoratifs in Paris, Museu Nacional do Azulejo in Lisbon, Museum of Modern Art in New York, National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and the World Ceramic Center in Ichon, Korea.
Critics have always recognized the important contribution of her work in the dialogue between art and ceramics. her monograph Betty Woodman (New York: The Monacelli Press, 2006) includes essays by Janet Koplos, Barry Schwabsky, and Arthur Danto. In Italy, she is represented by Galleria Massimo Minini.
Betty Woodman is also a member of the SACI Artists Council.
Piazza San Pancrazio, Florence – ITALY
T +39 055 219432
Admission and opening hours:
Monday, Wednesday – Saturday: 10am – 5pm.
Closed on Tuesday and on public holidays.
As a part of the project Toscana ‘900, the Marino Marini Museum offers extended opening hours every Sunday from September to December 2015.
Full price: € 6, reduced: € 4, students: € 3, free: children under 6 years; accompany disabled persons; journalists