The American Academy in Rome, in collaboration with the Galleria Alessandro Bagnai, is pleased to present Betty Woodman: Roman Fresco/Pleasures and Places, an exhibition of selected recent works in ceramic and on canvas. The exhibition is curated by Roberto Caracciolo and Emanuela Nobile Mino.
The show opened Thursday 21 October, and will run through Friday 10 December 2010. The show can be viewed at the AAR Monday through Friday, 9:30am-12:30pm or by appointment (+39 06 584 6459). For the press release, see here (or here for the Italian version).
Betty Woodman (b. 1930 in Norwalk, Connecticut) is an American artist who began her career as a ceramicist producing magnificent objects for everyday use. From an early stage, she developed a highly innovative approach where ceramic became one of the many means for far more complex and ambitious work. In recent years, Woodman’s work has shifted towards a combination of ceramic and painting, of three dimensional elements and the flat surface that interact and enhance one another, creating a unity of the whole.
For the exhibition at the American Academy in Rome, the artist created a new work specifically for the spaces of the gallery: Roman Fresco/Pleasures and Places (see above). This work, monumental in size being 5 meters 60 centimeters high, is a poetic response to Rome, its history and its art, filtered through the emotional subjectivity of the artist who has had a long, passionate and curious relationship with the city.
The exhibition also includes four free-standing sculptures and two benches in bronze with colored patinas.
Betty Woodman came to Italy for the first time in 1951; she then returned in 1960 and in 1965 with a Fulbright scholarship. Since 1969 she has spent part of the year in Antella, outside Florence, where she has her studio, and part of the year in New York. Her works have been featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions, most recently (2009) a solo exhibition at the Museo delle Porcellane, Palazzo Pitti, Florence. In 2006 Betty Woodman was the subject of a large retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
Woodman exhibits in galleries such as Max Protetch in New York since 1983 (since 2010 Edwin Meulensteen) and the Frank Lloyd Gallery in Santa Monica, California among others. In Italy she exhibits with the Galleria Alessandro Bagnai in Florence and the Galleria Massimo Minini in Brescia.
Her work is represented in major public and private collections, including the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Brooklyn Museum in New York, the Museum of Modern Art of New York; the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.
On the evening of Thursday 21 October, Betty Woodman led a group of friends and Fellows of the American Academy in Rome through a special preview of Roman Fresco/Pleasures and Places.
Ms. Woodman described the way the show emerged out of her contemplating her own eightieth birthday, her work on an earlier installation for the US Embassy in Beijing, and a visit to the frescoes and mosaics at the Palazzo Massimo in Rome.
Emanuela Nobile Mino, who co-curated the show with Roberto Caracciolo, remarked to the group that she thought it was sometimes difficult for Italian artists to engage with their own heritage, including that of Rome, because of their proximity to it. However, she suggested that Ms. Woodman, who divides her time between Tuscany and New York, seems, in this show, to engage with Roman art with freshness and grace. Ms. Woodman agreed that, as a foreigner, she has such a freedom.
Ms. Woodman was able to explain the ways in which her work talks about function while also being functional, and the way in which her own aesthetic of practice can also become the aesthetic of one of her ceramic pieces.
It became clear that, both in its scale and in the interplay at work in it between sculpture and painting, Ms. Woodman’s show engages with the language of architecture as well, achieving a joyful and monumental art.
Special thanks to AAR Programs Associate Lexi Eberspacher, who organized the exhibition for the American Academy.