April 8-June 8, 2014

Opening Reception: Tuesday, April 8th at 6:30 pm

Italian Cultural Institute Gallery,

814 Montgomery Street, San Francisco


The Italian Cultural Institute of San Francisco, in collaboration with the Archivio  Cavellini, Brescia and  LYNCH THAM in New York City is pleased to present GUGLIELMO ACHILLE CAVELLINI 1914-2014; a survey exhibition covering two distinct bodies of Cavellini’s work between 1966 to 1990, curated by Amelia Antonucci.


In 1971, Cavellini coined the term “auto-storicizzazione” ( self-historicization), after he designed sixteen different museum posters each featuring the years “ 1914-2014” and the date of a solo exhibition celebrating the centennial anniversary of his birth.


The San Francisco exhibition is the first appointment that Cavellini wanted to have and the one he has arranged for almost the last 20 years of his life. It  follows the 2013 New York preview that was held at LYNCH THAM  from Sept 18 to Oct 27; and opens officially in the US the series of celebrations dedicated to his life and his achievements.


On view are 14 pieces among which two pivotal series:  Crates with Destroyed Works (1966-1970), and From the Page of the Encyclopedia (from 1973).


Crates with Destroyed Works are a collection of works Cavellini made by destroying the art he was creating and subsequently encasing them into crates.  These works originated from an internal and emotional source, revealing an attitude brought about by a deep and obsessive self-search. The work encapsulated a strong sense of self-purging and annihilation as he would destroy his work for the sole purpose of re-creating a new ideal, a new form of work.


From the Page of the Encyclopedia is a series of works originated from a theoretical and linguistic code Cavellini invented as a direct consequence of self-historicization.  Starting from actual biography, Cavellini expanded his own life story to temporal hyperbolic appropriations. Fabric, objects, clothing and live people would become a direct canvas for Cavellini to “paint” his story. While Crates with Destroyed Works relate to issues of self-annihilation, From the Page of the Encyclopedia are text-based works that allowed Cavellini to insert himself into the past and future art history, thereby exploring the idea of self-expansion in these works.


The son of the artist and president of the Archivio Cavelllini, Piero Cavellini will be present at the opening reception.


A comprehensive 70-page catalogue printed by Colpa Press will be available with essays by Valery Oisteanu, John Held Jr and Piero Cavellini; and a foreword by Paolo Barlera, director of the Istituto Italiano di Cultura and the exhibition’s curator, Amelia Antonucci.


A documentary that features Cavellini’s life as an artist, and his interest and interactions with New York artists such as Andy Warhol, Ray Johnson, Carlo Pittore, Buster Cleveland and Ed Higgins III, will also be on view.


The 1981 historical performance of Higgins III, who painted Cavellini’s body as a performance piece in red, white and green, the colors of the Italian flag, will be re-enacted by Luciano Chessa at the opening reception.


Guglielmo Achille Cavellini was born in Brescia in 1914. He is a historically important artist who gave context to the Italian Experimentation period and was the first artist to bridge postwar-Italian art with American Pop art. Yet, his diverse body of work defies easy classification. He had quite spontaneously eradicated art/life boundaries, recycled imagery from past works, appropriated and reused other artists’ works, generated exhibition possibilities, staged live events, utilized advertising strategies, inserted fictions into real events, celebrated silliness and devised publicity stunts. Throughout his career as an artist, Cavellini executed paintings, objects, works and performances that would relate to, and anticipate practices such as Art & Language cataloguing systems, John Baldessari’s text panels, Joseph Beuys’ felt suit, Marcel Broodthaers’ poetic diagrams, Chris Burden’s performance relics, Hanne Darboven’s all-over writing, Robert Filliou’s unstructured games, Gilbert and George’s posturing, Ray Johnson’s mail art, Yayoi Kusama’s polka dot obliterations, Cildo Meireles’ Insertions into global systems, Allen Ruppersberg’s Picture of Dorian Gray and Lucas Samaras’ boxed shrines.


Cavellini’s artists books are represented in the permanent holdings of New York’s Franklin Furnace and in the archive on 20th century art maintained by the Venice Biennale. His work is in many private and public collections including the Civiche Raccolte Comune di Milano, Museo Pecci Prato, Museo MART Rovereto, Museo di Cavalese Trento, Collezione citta di Pesaro, Civica Raccolta del disegno Sal, FRAC Nord Pas de Calais and Le Consortium Dijon in France, among many others.


Opening Reception: Tuesday, April 8, 2014. 6:30pm.

For more information visit Italian Cultural Institute Gallery, San Francisco.