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Estorick Collection Announces Exhibition of the Hockemeyer Collection of 20th Century Italian Ceramic Art

LONDON.- The Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art will present the exhibition Terra Incognita: Italy’s Ceramic Revival at 39a Canonbury Square , Islington, London N1, from 30 September to 20 December 2009. This is the first time that the Hockemeyer Collection has been exhibited in the UK and promises to be a revelation to modern art and ceramic enthusiasts alike.

The Bernd and Eva Hockemeyer Collection of 20th century Italian ceramics has been formed over the past twenty-five years as an expression of the collectors’ interest in Mediterranean – and especially Italian – art from antiquity to the present day. Although individual pieces have been exhibited before, this is the first time that such work has been the subject of an exhibition in Britain . It presents a selection of some fifty key works dating from the late 1920s to the mid 1980s by twenty-three of Italy’s most celebrated artists and ceramists including sculptors such as Arturo Martini, Marino Marini, Lucio Fontana, Fausto Melotti, Leoncillo Leonardi and Giuseppe Spagnulo, the painters Roberto Crippa, Gianni Dova and Emilio Scanavino and ceramic masters Pietro Melandri, Guido Gambone, Marcello Fantoni, Pompeo Pianezzola and Carlo Zauli.

The works on show – sculptures, panels, vases and plates – illustrate sixty years of Italian artistic development in the historic medium of clay. The exhibition presents a wealth of different styles, aesthetic ideas and concepts, underlined by the diversity of techniques and scale of the objects on show: terracotta, maiolica and lustrewares ranging in size from the minute lustred vase by Pietro Melandri (only 10.7 cm high) to the suspended maiolica sculpture of 2.16 metres by Salvatore Meli, which was presented at the XXIX Venice Biennale in 1958.

The exhibition begins with early classical works by Italy ’s most important sculptors of the first half of the 20th century: Marino Marini and Arturo Martini. The latter was represented by works in terracotta at the seminal exhibition XX Century Italian Art at MoMA , New York , in 1949. The exhibition shows works of the same period by the ceramist Pietro Melandri who, with outstanding technical expertise, created both prestigious decorative art objects and sculptures, winning the Grand Prix for Sculpture at the 1937 Paris World Exhibition.

This extraordinary selection of works from the Hockemeyer Collection illustrates the great affinity with the materiality of clay that distinguishes Italy ’s artistic panorama of the inter-war and post-war period from those of other European countries during the same era. At a time when many contemporary artists use clay as a means of expression to push the established academic boundaries between art, craft and design, this exhibition represents a long overdue consideration of Italy’s 20th century ceramic culture which, at its high point, was distinguished by a contempt for the divisions between the fine and decorative arts.

Estorick Collection | Arturo Martini | Marino Marini | Lucio Fontana | Fausto Melotti | Leoncillo Leonardi | Giuseppe Spagnulo |

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