Discover the heroine of Italian Pop Art at Partners & Mucciaccia on Dover Street
While the names of Lucio Fontana, Alberto Burri, Alighiero Boetti and Michelangelo Pistoletto have shot into the spotlight over the past few years, Giosetta Fioroni is perhaps less familiar. Fioroni was the only female member of the Scuola di Piazza del Popolo, a group of artists that emerged during the 1960s, and developed Italian Pop Art as we have come to know it. Her graphic work draws on mass media as much as her family background: she was born in in 1932, her father a sculptor and mother a painter and puppeteer.
Post-war Italian art continues to pour into the market, largely due to the expiration of Italian legislation that requires an export licence for any work more than 50 years old. Indeed, at Sotheby’s Milan, Fioroni’s Bambino sold for €52,500, more than €30,000 over its high estimate in 2015; La modella inglese sold for £56,250 in last year’s Italian sale at Christie’s; and in October Gli Occhiali (The Glasses) reached £62,500 at Phillips.
An exhibition at Partners & Mucciaccia this month hones in on Fioroni’s earlier work. “Although they were created in the 1960s, her pictures are still very contemporary and translate very well, 60 years later,” says the gallery’s founder and director Massimiliano Mucciaccia.
The works on display are typical of those from the artist’s time living between Rome and Paris from 1959 to 1963, when la dolce vita crossed paths with post-war Neorealism. Fioroni introduced rounded edges to her paintings (like a television or film screen), which were often of female faces that she referred to as ‘ideograms’ – images taken from press cuttings, projected onto the canvas and often painted in a ghostly silver (another reference both to the silver screen and the first photographs taken by William Henry Fox Talbot, who used paper coated in silver iodide).
Although comparisons can be drawn, European Pop artists rejected the mechanical screenprinting techniques used by their American counterparts like Andy Warhol. Fioroni’s compositions tap into the same use of cultural icons, but by reinterpreting the faces by hand in enamel, aluminium and oil paint, they are far less emotionally detached. For the Italian Pop artists, the emphasis remained on the act of creating. Partners & Mucciaccia launched in 2006 in Rome, followed by spaces in the Dolomites and Singapore.
“After a few years operating on an international level, the next step of course was London, as it’s one of the most important platforms for both the contemporary and modern art market – and Mayfair is the centre of all that,” says Mucciaccia, who now lives in the area and flies back to Rome for weekends.
The gallery opened on Dover Street last June, focusing on paintings through artists from Giorgio de Chirico to Enrico Castellani. Its roster “is a question of taste and sensitivity towards the artists”, Mucciaccia describes. “The gallery does follow the market, but only up until a certain point.”
Fioroni’s recent work is completely different – dresses sculpted in ceramic, linear ink sketches – and she is still producing art in Rome. Yet nothing says bravissimo quite like the gallery’s tribute to one of the last living Italian Pop artists.