The artist:

Paolo Icaro

Paolo Icaro (Pietro Paolo Chissotti) was born in Turin in 1936. He studied music and then enrolled in the Faculty of Art and Philosophy at Turin University in 1956. He joined Umberto Mastroianni’s firm in 1958 and it was Mastroianni himself who suggested he change his name, so that he would not be mixed up with his two brothers, who also worked in Turin: “From now on I will call you Icaro (Icarus): fly, fly, fly!”

He moved to Rome at the end of 1960, where he held his first solo exhibition at Schneider Gallery in 1962 and then, three years later, he was invited to take part in the IX Quadriennale Nazionale d’Arte.

In 1964 he won the prize awarded by the Ministry of Foreign Trade at the III Gubbio Biennial of Ceramic Art. He moved to New York in 1966, where he lived until 1968: here he created Forme di spazio, which Ceroli renamed Gabbie, structures with metal frames in which the sculpture becomes a place, an origin of space, rather than just an object. He held his first solo exhibition at La Tartaruga Gallery, Rome, in 1967 and then Germano Celant invited him to take part in the Arte Povera Im-Spazio exhibition at La Bertesca Gallery in Genoa – the city where he settled after returning to Italy; again in 1967, he presented Campo di San Marino at the San Marino Biennial.

The following year he held a solo exhibition at Bertesca Gallery entitled Faredisfarerifarevedere. 0106768, a title that exemplified his artistry; in October 1968 he took part in a show held in Amalfi called Arte povera più azioni povere. In 1969 he was invited to take part in the leading international shows.

In 1971, in the footnotes of the catalogue accompanying the exhibition Arte Povera. 13 Italienische Kȕnstler, held at the Kunstverein in Munich, Icaro decided to officially distance himself from the contemporary exhibition scene and the commercialisation of art. The following year he moved to Connecticut, where he stayed until 1981. During the 1970s he created cycles of works, such as I luoghi del punto and Misure intime, ways of measuring the body created using different materials, including plaster, a material that acts over time, maintaining the imprint of the speedy gesture that shaped it.

In the 1970s and 1980s he held solo exhibitions at important European and American galleries. He moved back to Italy permanently in the 1980s: he bought a house in Lecco and a studio in Malgrate. In 1982 he held a solo exhibition at the PAC – Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea in Milan. In 1987 he rented a studio in Milan and on 1st December his solo exhibition opened at the Palazzina dei Giardini in Modena presented by Dore Ashton and Pier Giovanni Castagnoli.

A monograph edited by Mario Bertoni (Ed. Essegi, Ravenna) was published in 1990. Danilo Eccher curated the first major retrospective exhibition of his work held at Galleria Civica di Arte Contemporanea in Trento in 1995. He opened his own studio in Villa San Martino, Pesaro, from 1996-2001.

During the 1990s he was invited to take part in several collective exhibitions. Most notably: Arte italiana degli ultimi quarant’anni. Materiali anomali, curated by Danilo Eccher and Dede Auregli at Bologna Art Gallery (1997); Au rendez-vous des amis. Identità e opera, curated by Bruno Corà, Luigi Pecci Contemporary Art Centre in Prato (1998); Images. Italian art from 1942 to the present / Immagini. Arte italiana dal 1942 ai nostri giorni, curated by Fabrizio D’Amico, European Central Bank, Frankfurt (2000).

In 2006 he was involved in a show called Museo Museo Museo. 1998-2006 Duecentocinquanta nuove opere per la GAM, curated by Pier Giovanni Castagnoli at Torino Esposizioni, which displayed the collection of works acquired by Turin Modern and Contemporary Art Gallery in 2005. In October 2007, Luigi Ballerini invited him to create a permanent work for the hall of the Italian Department at UCLA – University of California in Los Angeles.

He then took part in lots of collective exhibitions, including Time & Place: Milano – Torino. 1958-1968, Moderna Museet, Stockholm, curated by Luca Massimo Barbero (2008); Italics. Arte italiana fra tradizione e rivoluzione 1968-2008, Palazzo Grassi, curated by Francesco Bonami (2008-2009); Trame. Le forme del rame tra arte contemporanea, design, tecnologia e architettura, curated by Antonella Soldaini and Elena Tettamanti, La Triennale, Milan (2014); “… Ma un’estensione”. Gastini, Icaro, Mattiacci, Spagnulo, Venice, Ca’ Pesaro (2015); L’Inarchiviabile / The Unarchivable. Italia anni ’70, curated by Marco Scotini, FM Contemporary Art Centre, Milan (2016).

In 2008 he was appointed an Academic at San Luca.

His most notable solo exhibitions down the years include: Modalità, Galleria Lorenzelli Arte, Milan (2006-2007); Faredisfarerifarevedere, curated by Mario Bertoni, Centro d’Arte e Cultura Chiesa di San Paolo, Modena (2008); Le pietre di marmo, as part of the XXV Gubbio Biennial of Sculture curated by Giorgio Bonomi (2008); Biografia ideale, curated by Ludovico Pratesi, Centro Arti Visive Pescheria in Pesaro (2009); 15 Stele 15, curated by Lara Conte, Galleria Niccoli, Parma (2010); Su misura, curated by Lara Conte and Mauro Panzera, Galleria Il Ponte, Florence (2011); I do as I did, Galleria Lorenzelli Arte, Milan (2011); retrospective on the decade from 1967 – 1977, Galleria P420, Bologna (2012); Living in America: sculptural events in Woodbridge, Galleria G7, Bologna (2012); Black & White. Reason and Passion, Galleria Lorenzelli Arte, Milan (2013); Tensioni, Studio La Città, Verona (2013).

An important monograph was published in December 2016 entitled Paolo Icaro faredisfarerifarevedere; it was presented in June at the Massimo Minini and P420 galleries as part of the Unlimited section of Art Basel, which featured Foresta metallica (1967). He lives and works in Tavullia in the province of Pesaro.

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