Vita Nuova. New Issues for Art in Italy. 1960-1975
Curated by Valerie Da Costa
14 May – 2 October 2022

For the first time in France since 1981, the MAMAC presents a major project dedicated to the Italian art scene between 1960 and 1975. Vita Nuova. New challenges for art in Italy. 1960-1975 aims to uncover the extraordinary vivacity of artistic creation in Italy between 1960 and 1975, whose diversity remains very little known in France – with the exception of the works of Arte Povera artists.

Between the early 1960s and mid 1970s, Italy experienced a particularly fertile and exceptional period, inextricably linked to the richness of cinema and literature of the period. Paradoxically, since the exhibition  held at the Centre Pompidou National Museum of Modern Art (Paris) in 1981 “Identité italienne. L’art en Italie depuis 1959”, curated by Germano Celant (1940-2020), there has been no major overview of this remarkable art scene in France.

Curated by the art historian and specialist in Italian art Valérie Da Costa, this exhibition makes up for this historical gap. Offering an unprecedented take on these fifteen years of creation from 1960, this exhibition corresponds with the first exhibitions of a new generation of artists born between the years 1920 and 1940 who were active in Genoa, Florence, Milan, Rome and Turin – to 1975. The time period is also an important gap to consider, as 1975 was marked by the tragic death of the writer, poet and director Pier Paolo Pasolini (1922-1975). The year 2022 marks the centenary of his birth.

This generation of artists offered up new ways of understanding and making art: they illustrated a form of vita nuova (“new life”) a title borrowed from Dante’s eponymous book which, while serving as an ode to love, asserts a new way of writing that marked a new era for Italian art and contributing to its international recognition.

During the 1960s and 1970s, Italy’s transformation (industrialism, consumer society, political instability, etc.) resulted in new modes of representation. It is this historical and political context that forms the background of this exhibition. This exhibition takes on a resolutely thematic perspective and is organised around three main ideas: A society of images, reconstructing nature and the body’s memory, all considered in a porous and cross-cutting nature, in order to demonstrate the circulation of artists, forms and ideas between visual, ecological and corporeal issues.

The exhibition aims to present a diverse, non-exhaustive artistic landscape, composed of a selection of artists – some of whom have been forgotten in the world of Italian art (particularly with regard to female artists) – whose work is exhibited for the first time in France and has been recently rediscovered in their own country. Developed as a multidisciplinary exhibition, Vita Nuova explores the links that have been established simultaneously between visual creation, design and cinema.