Fabio Mauri
 
Text
Angela Vettese
Art historian, Università Iuav di Venezia
 
The exhibition “Accrochage” presents for the first time to the public a group of works by Fabio Mauri (1926–2006), a pioneering avant-garde artist who drew on a diversity of disciplines, including the visual arts and cinema.
 
<br><br><br><span class="alinea"></span>Fabio Mauri was a major actor in the most challenging extreme of the Italian publishing world, guiding light of the mythical <i>Almanacco Bompiani</i>, and a close friend of the literary avant-gardes. He was an eyewitness, a visionary. Active in Rome during the years following the Second World War, he saw his country transition from fascism to other forms of mass conditioning, the successive dependence on ideologies that absorb and betray individuality. <br><br> <span class="alinea"></span>Mauri was quick to understand the importance that the screen would soon take on—not only in theaters, but especially at home, in televisions. He first quoted their shape in 1957, with white monochrome canvases whose dimensions evoke those of early television sets using cathode ray tubes. Like contemporary philosophers of communication theory such as Vance Packard, Marshall McLuhan, or Hans Magnus Enzesberger, Mauri foresaw the power of standardization and leveling that this new window onto the world would open up in households, with always the dubious goal of pleasing the public rather than challenging or elevating its tastes. The role of intellectuals, those who write or create serious cinema, was becoming compromised. Those, like Pierpaolo Pasolini, who were able to perceive this phenomenon early on, before it became flagrant, had to come to terms with the idea of striving for consensus through the medium of television. They realized that they could no longer, as they had in the past, give a didactic or even an innovative dimension to their work. As a writer of fiction, but also of screenplays for film and television, Pasolini himself came to embody the short-circuit that was occurring, in one case literally: in a performance from 1975, Fabio Mauri projected onto Pasolini’s body scenes from the latter’s film <i>The Gospel According to Saint Matthew</i>. Here Mauri uses the body of his friend as a sacrificial screen, a Christ on whom men project earthly notions. In another work, the artist presented screens bearing the inscription “Drive In,” referring to American drive-in theaters, more an occasion to snack on popcorn and make out in the backseat of a car than to actually watch a movie. The screen became the symbol for the end of an era, the transition from a means of education to a vehicle for an ideology of mass consumption and devious propaganda. <br><br> <span class="alinea"></span>Fabio Mauri’s monochrome canvases were the result of banning representation from his work, a goal he shared with many of his contemporaries. His specific approach is worth noting. He did not seek an extreme reduction of painting, like Kazimir Malevich did with <i>Suprematist Composition: White on White</i>. He did not try to mirror life like Robert Rauschenberg’s monochromes, nor did he rebel against the painted surface, like Lucio Fontana. He did not adopt an iconoclastic position, like Piero Manzoni, or analyze method, like Giulio Paolini. He was not trying to exalt an all-uniting spirit, like Yves Klein, or to enshrine the obsessive movement of the paintbrush, like Robert Ryman. With his monochrome screens, Mauri adopts a political stance, that in several of his canvases concisely and elegantly announce the <i>fine</i>, or end, of a world. His work weighs on our conscience, announcing the imminent transition from political dictatorship to the dictatorship of audience ratings—both equally toxic, both sealing the end of the hope embodied by democratic utopias.<br><br>
 
Fabio MAURI<br /><i>Schermo (N. 607)</i> — 1960 — Paint on paper — 40 × 54 cm
 
Fabio MAURI<br /><i>Schermo (N. 791)</i> — 1960 — Collage — 70 × 90 cm
 
Fabio MAURI<br /><i>Schermo (N. 616)</i> — 1970 — Paint on paper — 70 × 100 cm
 
Fabio MAURI<br /><i>Schermo Fine</i> — 1960 — Paint on paper — 70 × 100 cm
 
Fabio MAURI<br /><i>Drive in 2</i> — 1962 — Disk and canvas on gouache painted canvas and frame in wood and metal — 125 × 115 × 5 cm
 
Fabio MAURI<br /><i>Schermo carta rotto</i> — 1957-1990 — Iron, wood, paper, plaster and glass — 100,5 × 70 × 9,5 cm
 

Pinault Collection

Pinault Collection Magazine - Issue #06

 

Pinault Collection

Archives