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Last modified 9-21-13
Home / Gallery Tour 1 / Pop Art in America and Europe / Gallery Tour 2 / Artists

Pop Art in the U.S. and Europe: Valerio Adami (Italian, b. 1935): Inspiration

Valerio Adami, Joan Gardy Artigas, Richard Avedon, Enrico Baj, Elizabeth Blackadder, Richard Bosman, Christo,
Robert Cottingham, Allan D'Arcangelo, Jim Dine, Robert Indiana, Jasper Johns, Alex Katz, Allen Jones, R. B. Kitaj,
Nicholas Krushenick, Roy Lichtenstein, Richard Lindner, Claes Oldenburg, Peter Phillips, Mel Ramos, Robert Rauschenberg,
Larry Rivers, James Rosenquist, George Segal, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, Saul Steinberg, Andy Warhol, John Wesley,
and Tom Wesselmann
Adami 1 / Adami 2 / Adami 3 / Adami 4 / Adami 5
Adami is recognized internationally as an important European artist. Spaightwood has works from his three major periods of activity. In his early Pop-related works, he offers us views of isolated fragments of modern society in which objects are taken out of perspective and context to allow us to see them anew. These are largely sleek designer-visions of a world with no visible signs of life in it. They were succeeded by a number of works focusing on historic moments and presentations of such heroes of modern culture as Freud, Joyce, and Walter Benjamin, often evoking rather ruefully the world they desired but failed to create. The works of his most recent period are perhaps his most interesting and attractive. They demonstrate his desire, as recounted in an essay in The New Yorker magazine, to reawaken civilization’s desire for a space to dream and to fantasize by revivifying the myths of Western culture and history, peopling his works with characters from Ovidian scenes and other fictive moments that might enable us to once again, renewed, begin the search for the springs of sexuality, desire, beauty, and creativity. Our inventory focuses upon the works of this period, representing the earlier ones mostly by inexpensive large-edition unsigned lithographs as a means of putting the later signed works within the context of his career to date.

The subject of a special number of Eighty, a French journal devoted to the works of the painters of the 1980s, he was also honored in 1985 by full-scale retrospectives at the Centre Georges-Pompidou in Paris and the Communo of Milan. Adami’s first major show in 1962 at the Institute of Contemporary Art in London was quickly followed by an exhibit at Documenta III in Cassel. In addition to representing Italy at the 1968 Venice Biennale, Adami has had major shows at the Institute of Contemporary Art (Boston), the Palais des Beaux-Arts (Brussels), the museums of Caracas, Ulm, Hambourg, Bordeau, Marseille, Charleroi, Mexico, Jerusalem, Siena, Venice, Aix-en-Province, the Musee d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, and many other galleries in Europe and America. He is also the subject of critical studies by Jacques Derrida, Italo Calvino, Jean-Francois Lyotard and others.

Select Bibliography: Valerio Adami & Carlos Fuentes, Valerio Adami (Monaco: Marlborough Monaco, 2002); Valerio Adami, Werke 1976-1996. Frankfurt. 10/1996 (Frankfurt: Museum Bochum. 1996); Dore Ashton, "Searching High and Low" (NY: Marisa del Re Gallery, 1984); Italo Calvino, Vier fabels van Aesopus voor Valerio Adami/ Quatre fables d' Esope pour Valerio Adami/ Quattro favole d' Esopo per Valerio Adami/ Vier fablen von Aesop für Adami (Antwerp: Lens Fine Art, 1981); Pier Giovanni Castagnoli & Roberto Roversi,Valerio Adami à Bologna (Bologna: Stamparte Editrice, 1988); Jacques Derrida, "Le voyage du dessin" (Paris: Maeght Editeur, 1975; reprinted in Derrida's The Truth in Painting, trans. Geoff Bennington & Ian McLeod [Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987], chapter 2); Paolo Fabbri, ed. Valerio Adami. Opere 1990-2000 (Milano: Skira, 2000); Pierre Gaudibert, ed. Adami: Image et Eros Chez Adami. Texts by Pierre Gaudibert, Carlos Fuentes, Alain Jouffroy, Henry Martin, Gérald Gassiot-Talabot (Paris. ARC/Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris); Hubert Damisch & Henry Martin, Adami (NY: Amiel Publisher, 1974); Roger Lesgards, Valerio Adami (Cherche Midi, 1999); Jean-Francois Lyotard, "It's As If A Line..." trans. Mary Lydon (Contemporary Literature 29 [1988)], 454-84; the essay was originally published in repères: cahiers d'art contemporain 6 (Paris, 1983). See also "Anamnesis of the visible, or Candour," The Lyotard Reader (Basil Blackwell, 1989), chapter 12; Adami. Narrazioni mitologiche. Ritratti simbolici. Quadri politici. Quadri letterari (Milano: Museo Mediceo di Firenze, 1996); Octavio Paz, "La ligne narrative," repères: cahiers d'art contemporain 77 (Paris, 1991); J. Zugazagoitia, ed. Adami. Itinerari dello sguardo. Spoleto, Palazzo Racani Arroni 25/6-13/7/1997 (Milano: Electa, 1997).
Ascension. Original color lithograph, 1984. 100 signed and numbered impressions on Arches paper measuring 910x655mm. An artist (probably from the early Italian Renaaissance, judging from his clothes) carrying a woman whom he has just lifted off a cart looks up at a rocky landscape leading to a forbidding climb to the peak of a mountain; behind him we see a small temple (in his heart? his aspiration?). Perhaps a meditation on the difficulties of achieving the artistic heights. Published in Paris by Galerie Maeght-Lelong. Image size: 757x560mm Price: $1500.
La Source. Original color lithograph, 1984. 150 signed and numbered impressions on Arches paper measuring 862x600mm. Published in Paris by Galerie Maeght-Lelong. This is one of a number of works in which Adami revisits stories from classical mythology. Here a man stares fixedly toward a microphone with his arm arond the shoulders of a woman crowned with the moon, the sign of Diana, who here seems to be functioning as his inspiration. Image size: 710x506mm Price: $1500.
Le peintre aux lunettes. Original color lithograph, 1983. 100 signed and numbered impressions. The artist, visible at the right, observes an artist, probably from the Italian Renaissance, working at his easel, presumably painting the reclining nude who takes up most of the composition. Published in Paris by Galerie Maeght-Lelong. Image size: 560x710mm; paper size: 660x840mm. Price: $1500.
Claire de lune. Original color lithograph, 1983. 100 signed and numbered impressions on Arches paper measuring 660x840mm. Published in Paris by Galerie Maeght-Lelong. In the distance, a hunter, following the phases of the moon, moves through the wild, gun at rest in his arms, holding either a rope or a whip; in the foreground, dreaming under the moon with a smile on her face, a female figure, perhaps Diana, goddess of the moon and huntress, smiles. Image size: 560x762mm Price: $1250.
The Kiss of the Moon. Original color lithograph, 1980. 75 signed and numbered impressions on Arches measuring 755x560mm. Published in Paris by Maeght Editeur. From the title, it is clear that this shows Endymion, who was in love with the chaste goddess Diana; she reqarded his faithfulness by casting him into an eternal sleep in which he could achieve his desires by dreaming of her. Image size: 660x460mm Price: $1250.
Metamorphose. Original color lithograph, 1982. 100 signed and numbered impressions on Arches measuring 660x840mm. Published in Paris by Galerie Maeght. According to Ovid's Metamorphoses, Actaeon, a hunter (and thus a devotee of Diana, goddess of the hunt), stumbled upon Diana and her nymphs bathing after hunting. Diana, irritated by his presumptiousness in seeing her nude (she was also the goddess of chastity!), splashed some water onto him and changed him from a man into a deer. His dogs subsequently chased him down, killed him, and ate him. The figure on the right has begun the metamorphosis: he has one human foot left, but his rear leg has been transformed into a pair of legs ending in hooves. Interestingly, he seems to have gotten close enough to the woman to embrace her. Image size: 560x760mm Price: $1500.
Chiron enseignant la lyre a Achille / Chiron teaching Achilles how to play the lyre. Original color lithograph, 1980. 75 signed and numbered impressions on Arches. Published in Paris by Maeght Editeur. Adami has long been interested in re-visioning scenes from classical mythology, Europe's lost "history." Here the centaur Chiron, nattily attired like a modern sophisticate, but with one hoof visible, stands in what appears to be an art gallery leaning on a walking stick while a naked Achilles holds a lyre. While not quite a case of clothes making a man, a centaur interested in art and music (centaurs were normally symbols of runaway passions, half-human, half-beast, with a tendency towards anger as in the Harry Potter cycle) is not following the sterotype and may suggest that music hath indeed charmes to sooth the savage breast. One of Adami's largest and most striking lithographs. Image size: 1067x742mm. Price: $2000.

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