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Palazzo Reale di Milano opens the first major retrospective of Agostino Bonalumi
Installation view, Bonalumi 1958-2013 at Palazzo Reale, Milan. ALTO//PIANO – Agostino Osio photography.


MILAN.- Palazzo Reale di Milano is presenting the first major retrospective of Agostino Bonalumi (1935-2013), since his death, in the artist’s city of Milan. The exhibition opened to the public on 13 July and continues until 30 September 2018, admission is free.

Bonalumi 1958 – 2013 has been curated by Marco Meneguzzo, and promoted by the Comune di Milano – Cultura, Palazzo Reale, Museo del Novecento, in collaboration with the Archivio Bonalumi. It presents approximately 120 works by the Milanese artist, spanning from his debut in 1958 with Enrico Castellani and Piero Manzoni, until his demise in 2013. It examines Bonalumi’s connections with major European movements and the renewed international appreciation that the artist’s innovative works have provoked.

As the most complete exhibition to date dedicated to Bonalumi, it aims to illustrate his creative path through the polyhedral and illuminate his rigorous artistic practice as one of the world’s major abstract artists through a series of seminal works - many of which are of large-scale.

Chronologically arranged, the exhibition is marked by the presence of three large installations. The first Blu abitabile, one of his most important works, was realised for the exhibition “Lo spazio dell’immagine”, Foligno in 1967. The second is a reconstruction of the room at the 35th Venice Biennale, 1970. This key installation, with elevated modules, has not been displayed since the Biennale. The third installation, a large wall-relief was exhibited in 2003 at the Institut Mathildenhöhe, Darmstadt, in Germany.

Marco Meneguzzo Curator of Bonalumi 1958 – 2013 comments, ‘Agostino Bonalumi belongs to a generation of artists that was deeply inspired by Fontana but at the same time he has been able to give a definition of space in a very modern way as his colleagues and friends Piero Manzoni and Enrico Castellani did, each of them able to maintain a personal and recognisable expressive language. ‘Bonalumi - continues Marco Meneguzzo - found the key was to give an image of art that was adherent to the development of society embracing modernity and he continued to experiment till the end of his days.’

Alongside the exhibition Palazzo Reale will screen a 12 minute extract from hour-long documentary film AGOSTINO BONALUMI. The intelligence of materials (2018). Created by Archivio Bonalumi and Zenit Arti Audiovisive, under the direction of Fabrizio Galatea and the historical-artistic direction of Francesca Pola, the film will be broadcast by Sky Arte HD on September 18, 2018.

The Museo del Novecento in Milan also offers a dedicated focus on the artist entitled Agostino Bonalumi. Space, environment, project. This display of eight works on paper looks at the artist’s research practice between 1967 and the end of the Seventies, revealing his accuracy and precision as a designer of light and space, in relation to his environmental works.

The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue edited by Silvana Editoriale with an essay by the curator and an introduction by Philip Rylands, former Director of the Guggenheim, Venice. Published in Italian and English, the catalogue includes a wealth of information, making it a definitive resource about the artist.

Bonalumi 1958-2013 is the third consecutive year the Palazzo Reale’s summer programme has given focus to Contemporary Art. This year, in collaboration with the Museo del Novecento, four artists are being presented, illustrating the creativity of our times. These artists are: Agostino Bonalumi, Alik Cavaliere and Pino Pinelli at Palazzo Reale, Agostino Ferrari at Museo del Novecento.

Agostino Bonalumi was born on 10 July 1935, in Vimercate, Milan. He studied technical design and mechanics. Bonalumi held his first solo exhibition in 1956 at the Galleria Totti in Milan. In 1958 the Bonalumi, Castellani and Manzoni group emerged with an exhibition at the Galleria Pater in Milan, followed by other exhibitions in Rome, Milan and Lausanne. In 1961 at the Kasper Gallery, Lausanne, he became one of the founders of the "New European School" group. Arturo Schwarz acquires his works and in 1965 presents a solo exhibition of Bonalumi in his gallery in Milan, for which Gillo Dorfles wrote a catalogue essay. In 1966, he began a long period of collaboration with Galleria del Naviglio in Milan, which became his exclusive agent, publishing a large monograph edited by Gillo Dorfles in 1973 for Edizioni del Naviglio. In 1966 he was invited to the Venice Biennale with a group of works and in 1970 with a solo room. He then spent a period of study and work in the countries of Mediterranean Africa and in the United States where he debuted a solo show at the Bonino gallery in New York. In 1967 he was invited to the São Paulo Biennial and in 1968 to the Paris Biennale. He created environment-painting works such as, "Blu Abitabile", 1967, for the exhibition "Lo Spazio dell'Immagine", in Foligno; Grande Nero", 1968, for a solo exhibition at the Museum am Ostwall in Dortmund and in 1979, as part of the exhibition curated by Francesca Alinovi and Renato Barilli, “Pittura Ambiente” at the Palazzo Reale in Milan, the installation “Dal giallo al bianco e dal bianco al giallo”, in which the environment, seen as human activity, was analysed as primary, and therefore psychological activity, also in “Ambiente Bianco - Spazio trattenuto e spazio invaso”, produced in 2002 for the Guggenheim Foundation in Venice.

In 1980 an extensive exhibition illustrating the entire body of his work was presented by the Lombardy Region, at PalazzoTe di Mantova, with essays by Flavio Caroli and Gillo Dorfles. The National Academy of San Luca awarded Agostino Bonalumi the "President of the Republic Award" 2001 for sculpture. On this occasion a retrospective exhibition of the artist was presented in the halls of the Academy, accompanied by a monograph edited by Achille Perilli.

He worked in stage design, creating in 1970 sets and costumes for the ballet "Partita", for the Teatro Romano di Verona, with music by Goffredo Petrassi and choreography by Susanna Egri and in 1972 for the Teatro dell 'Opera di Roma the scenes and costumes of "Rot", music by Domenico Guaccero, choreography by Amedeo Amodio.

Bonalumi produced artist's books for Edizioni Colophon, Belluno and for Il Bulino editions, Rome and published collections of poems for the same Colophon, for Book Publisher and for PoliArt Editions. Despite an illness which he had for some time, Bonalumi continued to work diligently, developing his research through his last years. He also completes the production of a cycle of bronze sculptures on projects dating back to the late 60s.

Brussels, Moscow, New York, Singapore are some of the world’s capitals that hosted his solo exhibitions during his final period. In the summer of 2013, he enthusiastically collaborated on the realization of his seminal solo exhibition in London, the opening of which he unfortunately did not live to see. Agostino Bonalumi died in Monza on 18 September 2013. Only a week before he was at work in the place where he felt best in the world: his studio.





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