Vases in Arts, Crafts and Design on display in Rome at La Galleria Nazionale

With the exhibition On Flower Power. The Role of the Vase in Arts, Crafts and Design, curated by Martí Guixé with Inga Knölke, the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea in Rome, Italy, radically and unconventionally explores the hybrid territory in which art, design, and craftsmanship interact. Until the 29th September, the exhibition represents the first occasion for the Galleria Nazionale to compare these languages in relation to contemporary art and focuses on a seemingly neutral object: the flower vase. This element, a recurring archetype, becomes the principal medium for a narrative that intertwines the history of art, the history of applied arts and the history of design.

After becoming an obsolete object, the vase was rediscovered in the second half of the twentieth century when artists, architects, and designers began to re-code a typology, which has now become a real icon of everyday life. Thanks to the shapes and heterogeneity of use and dimensions, the role of the vase as a mere container has been reconsidered and it has become a kind of training ground of design through which to show one’s creativity and point of view. On Flower Power focuses on the empathetic power of the flower and how this emotional factor is reworked within the various disciplines: “A hybrid look,” says Guixé, “at art, craftsmanship and design through an object that is already transversal in itself, the flower vase, which also becomes empathetic precisely because of its ability to find an emotional complicity with its observer. In the exhibition, the flower vase, through the interpretation of the artist, craftsman or designer, becomes an empathetic object and in a way a subject of our near future. On display, there are more than eighty works that reinterpret the tradition and iconography of the vase through design, photography, sculpture, and painting. Among the works some from the most important protagonists of the international design scene such as Enzo Mari (Cerano, 1932) and Gaetano Pesce (La Spezia, 1939) to the Mendini Vase Project, a work (produced for Alessi in 1992 by the Milanese architect Alessandro Mendini) that includes the works of 100 artists such as Brian Eno, Robert Venturi, Milton Glaser and Ettore Sottsass. Reflection around the vase continues in the elegant aesthetic research by the Dutch-born designer Hella Jongerius (Utrecht, 1963), the provocative language of Tobias Rehberger (Esslingen, 1966) and the irony of Franz West (Vienna, 1947 – 2012). The common denominator of the selected artists is the formal experimentation and conceptual provocation, which is evident in the sculptures by Austrian artist Oliver Laric (Innsbruck, 1981) and in the hybridization of the expressive languages of the duo Aurora Sander. A series of photographic prints and five examples of the FAD Cup, the trophy that every year the FAD – Foment de les Arts i del Disseny – commissions to contemporary artists and designers (just to name a few, Antoni Cumella, André Ricard, Oscar Tusquets, Jaume Plensa, Joan Brossa, Tapies, Antoni Miralda, Mariscal, Fernando and Humberto Campana, Elias Torres, Martín Azua and Marc Monzó); the trophy is also included in Simone Bergantini’s research, of which part of the photographic series Trophies is exhibited, trophies, deconstructed and recomposed by the artist in total freedom. On the walls of the Salone Centrale, there are about thirty still lifes from the gallery’s collection where flowers and their containers are the dominant subjects. Among the many are works by Filippo De Pisis, Mario Mafai, Giorgio Morandi, Gaetano Previati and Toti Scialoja.


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