“You either went to the galleries to see Informel paintings, or you went on the streets to see advertisement billboards. I chose the streets.” (Schifano, 1988)
This desire for something new and contemporary was shared by various Italian artists after the presence of Pop Art became more and more noticeable in the wake of the 1964 Venice Biennale, that included renowned artists such as Jasper Johns, Claes Oldenburg, Frank Stella and Robert Rauschenberg. As in many other European cities, the Pop aesthetic became omnipresent in Italy, leading to a close intellectual examination of the movement by Italian artists, which initially took place mainly in Rome’s Piazza del Popolo. This scuola became the centre where artists such as Mimmo Rotella, Mario Schifano, Tano Festa, Iannis Kounellis and Mario Ceroli with their discourse and analysis of American works manifested a common basic attitude towards Pop Art without compromising their own respective styles. Rome was therefore considered the birthplace of Italian Pop Art for which the Galleria La Tartaruga then provided a suitable setting. Following Rome, Milan entered the scene with its own representatives such as Enrico Baj, Valerio Adami, Emilio Tadini and Lucio del Pezzo at the Studio Marconi.
Like all Pop movements, Italian Pop Art focused on capturing and commenting on everyday objects in bright colours and images, but retained a scepticism towards American imports. Instead, the artists incorporated the things they encountered frequently in Italian everyday life: This may have meant a more thorough engagement with Italian art history, urban landscape and mass culture in general than with aspects critical of consumption. The visual expressions of an economic boom, of the country's history and artistic heritage and the worlds of film and advertising became the motifs often reworked. It is understood as a survey of the existing, in which the artists succeeded in capturing the era and bringing revolution and colour to it. The Italian dolce vita became a key concept in these works, which displayed the richness of Italian culture and translated it into new media and technologies.
Even though the Italian Pop Art movement had its zenith in the 1960s, it continued to take root and, due to its intellectual and ideological heritage, created the beginning of a democratisation process in art in the form of multimedia works and the first performances.
Valerio Adami, Enrico Baj, Lucio del Pezzo, Mimmo Rotella, Mario Schifano, and Emilio Tadini were selected as examples for this exhibition.