Vicolo della Penitenza 11/A
Curated by Janice Guy
With Michel Auder, Sarah Charlesworth, DW Fitzpatrick, Gary Hume, On Kawara, Julian Lethbridge, Sarah Lucas, Reinhard Mucha, Richard Prince, Cindy Sherman, Thomas Struth, Meyer Vaisman, Lawrence Weiner, Franz West and Christopher Wool
Opening 9 June 2023, from 6 pm to 9 pm
In September of 1989, Cindy Sherman and Michel Auder arrived in Rome to participate in a residency programme initiated by art dealer Barbara Gladstone and art advisor Thea Westreich known as The Rome Studio. They were the first in a series of artists who, for the following two years, would live and make work in Vicolo della Penitenza 11/A, Trastevere, for a period of up to two months each, under the guidance of artist and curator, Janice Guy. In November of 1989, Richard Prince arrived together with his then assistant DW Fitzpatrick, followed by Meyer Vaisman, Gary Hume (and his partner at the time, Sarah Lucas), On Kawara and Thomas Struth over the course of 1990, and Franz West, Christopher Wool, Lawrence Weiner, Julian Lethbridge and Reinhard Mucha in 1991.
The exhibition encompasses the works made by the twelve artists that were officially invited to participate in the residency programme, and also includes works by DW Fitzpatrick and Sarah Lucas, as well as Sarah Charlesworth, who visited Cindy Sherman and used her time in Rome to research for her subsequent body of work.
The works they developed at The Rome Studio are not presented in isolation but rather in relation to the city of Rome at the time, to the conditions of a residency programme that transplanted their individual practices into a new and unfamiliar context, and in relation to each of their own individual practices as a whole. Several of the artists came from and are associated with specific geographical, social and stylistic contexts whose canons were entwined with national identity, including the Young British Artists, the US based Pictures Generation and the Düsseldorf School. Thus the exhibition offers yet another layer through which to look at and interpret a generation of artists, a vignette through which to observe the Western art-world during the fall of the Soviet Union, at the end of the Cold War and during the First Gulf War. Rome, with its centuries-old reputation as a city in which artists might somehow come of age, was also at a crossroads and undergoing rapid change during those years, which saw the political upheaval that would eventually lead to the fall of Italy’s First Republic in 1994. The city’s influence is most apparent in Cindy Sherman’s subversions of Italian Old Master portraiture, Thomas Struth’s black-and-white, central-perspective views of the city’s streets, and Reinhard Mucha’s photographic loop through its train stops. Other artists were more subtle: Gary Hume made his signature door wall paintings with a local technique in use since the Middle Ages, Michel Auder and Christopher Wool were both drawn to the Italian mass media landscape, and Lawrence Weiner to the “heat of the sun”. Sarah Lucas’ video Sausage Film (1991) initiates the feminist-punk YBA aesthetic.
The exhibition presents an overview of the residency from Cindy Sherman in 1989 to Reinhard Mucha in 1991 and includes an epilogue set in New York City where Thomas Struth and Meyer Vaisman met and collaborated on the series Roma (1992) in which Vaisman interprets Roman hand gestures, captured by Struth.
Cover image: Reinhard Mucha, from 24 Photographs – “The Rome Studio”, 1989 – 1991
The exhibition is promoted by the Cultural Department of Roma Capitale and Azienda Speciale Palaexpo.