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Armando Testa – Ca’ Pesaro, Italy

20 Apr — 15 Sep 2024

Exhibition Armando Testa .

20 April – 15 September 2024 Venice, Ca’ Pesaro – International Gallery of Modern Art

Curated by Gemma De Angelis Testa, Tim Marlow, Elisabetta Barisoni

Ca’ Pesaro inaugurates its new 2024 season with a major exhibition devoted to Armando Testa (1917-1992). Already represented since December 2022 in the Venetian civic collections with 17 works, the Piedmontese creative genius will be at the centre of a monographic survey enabling visitors to discover and rediscover original aspects of his output. Starting from his early work at the Scuola Tipografica Vigliardi Paravia in Turin, under the teaching of Ezio D’Errico, the exhibition reconstructs the artistic development of a leading figure in contemporary visual culture, the creator of celebrated icons that have been part of our collective imagination for years.

His masterpieces were created across a range of expressive media, which he experimented with in the more than thirty years of his career, with a modernity that is still an inspiration for contemporary artists, leading the aesthetic scholar Gillo Dorfles to term him a “global visualiser”.

Armando Testa won his first competition in 1937 for ICI (Industria Colori Inchiostri), when he was twenty. This was followed by research conducted in the immediate post-war period for important companies such as Martini & Rossi, Carpano, Borsalino and Pirelli, producing some of his most brilliant and iconic inventions. His advertisements, commercials, promotional campaigns and logos for Lavazza, Sasso, Carpano, Simmenthal and Lines, among others, were familiar to several generations of viewers, consumers, artists and creatives. They were enriched by works for national public occasions, such as the 1960 Rome Olympics, for which he created the official poster after winning a competition notable for its complications.

In the 1950s and ’60s he created TV images and cartoons, with figures, sounds and gestures that have proved enduring in the history of advertising and international culture. They included the image for Antonetto digestive pills (1960), the celebrated red sphere suspended above the half sphere of Punt e Mes, which in Piedmontese dialect means “a dot and a half” (1960), Caballero and Carmencita for Lavazza’s Café Paulista (1965), the imaginary inhabitants of the planet Papalla for Philco TV sets (1966), Pippo, the blue hippopotamus of Lines nappies (1966-1967), and advertisements for Sasso olive oil (1968) and Peroni beer (1968). Armando Testa’s studies of the theme of food, interpreted in eclectic and even ironic forms, was accompanied by a commitment to social issues and the dissemination of culture, including campaigns for Amnesty International, the referendum on divorce, poverty and hunger worldwide, to name just a few.

These activities were closely allied with Armando Testa’s unfailing studies of themes that are still open: not only the human figure, geometries, voids and solids, positive and negative, but also specific subjects such as hands and above all fingers, the first organ of sense and perception of the world, the alphabet by which we interpret the subject and the space around us. Significant interviews and video contributions will enable visitors to the Galleria Internazionale d’Arte Moderna to review a significant part of our history and enable the younger generations to discover a creative genius from our recent past. Not just the Armando Testa who is already well known. The exhibition at Ca’ Pesaro intends to present an overview of his achievement and artistic legacy, with a particular concern for his qualities and felicitous insights as painter, sculptor, designer and creator of endless fascinating images magically embodied in an unexpected synthesis.

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