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Alviani X Ancient

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Key takeaways

1. C1760 is honored to be displaying the work of Italian artist Getulio Alviani (1939-2018)

2. Alviani, who’s career boasts many accolades - a 1965 group exhibition at MoMA, work residing in the permanent collection of the MoMA, four years representing Italy at the Venice Biennale, museum director, educator, and curator, to name a few


Apr 7 - May 22, 2022




New York


The Trailer of "Alviani X Ancient"

C1760 presents “Alviani X Ancient,” a new exhibition featuring a dazzling display of abstract art and jewelry by Getulio Alviani (1939-2018), a key figure in Zero, Optical, and other global art movements, in dialogue with antiquities from three millennia. The most exclusive of Alviani’s works will be on view, including never before shown artworks from his private estate and some only displayed in the most prestigious institutions.

Alviani hails from Udine, the same town that produced legendary American art dealer Leo Castelli. When Alviani arrived in the United States, Castelli recruited none other than Andy Warhol to pick the artist up from the airport. While in conversation with Hans Ulrich Obrist in 2015, Alviani revealed intimate details behind his methods and practices. From a young age the artist expressed fascination with art, particularly looking to Leonardo Davinci’s drawings as examples to study. He realized that his interests lay within ‘seeing’ and ‘doing,’ particularly doing with his hands. Personal conversations and curiosities propelled his work from geometric drawings in the early years to work with aluminum later. Never doing anything out of duty, but instead out of keen interest is what kept Alviani’s work moving forward.

He states, “For example, the surface of one early work is black. But when it’s struck by light, it becomes white. Whiter than any other white, in fact, because of the light. These were my discoveries, such as thinking that blackness comes from white, and some white was whiter than the ‘real’ white. These were the conversations I was having with myself. Some questions were simple, others were transcendental. Slowly, I carried on like this” (Alviani, 2015).

The exhibition, a luminous play of light, metal, and stone from across continents and centuries, features Alviani’s radical abstract sculptures and statement jewelry from the 1960s to the 1980s, alongside works by ancient creators who manifested a similar approach to form, space, and motion. The display includes several key examples of Alviani’s “vibratile textured surfaces,” a term coined by Italian poet and critic Carlo Belloli to describe the artist’s metal forms that appear to be in perpetual movement.

Other works that showcase Alvian’s experimental approaches include Rilievo speculare a elementi curvi (1962-64), a dramatic symphony of interwoven steel forms that is nearly three feet high; positivo – negativo model (1962-64), eye-tricking stripes created from red and green enameled iron; cerchi virtuali (1967), lyrical circular sculptures in steel, and works in wood and steel painted red, yellow, and blue.

Another highlight is Alviani’s jewelry: dramatic necklaces, created with interlocking and slashed circular forms, and a spectacular gold-and-steel brooch that shows how the artist adapted his geometric vocabulary for the human body.

Spanning the Cycladic and Bronze ages to classical Greece and Rome, the ancient works on view create suggestive correspondences with Alviani’s art. Particularly striking is the dialogue between Alivani’s jewels, with their dynamic circular shapes, and the elaborate “spiral” fibulae, created with bronze wire during the European Bronze Age (late 2nd – early 1st millennium B.C.). A gray marble bowl, precisely carved by a Cycladic artist (Early Cycladic II, middle of the 3rd millennium B.C.), communes with Alviani’s mesmerizing aluminum disc, created 1965.

Additional works highlight different ways that ancient artists created the illusion of movement. These include a marble dancing maenad (Roman, Neo-Attic, ca. 2nd century A.D); sensuous marble crouching Aphrodite (Graeco-Roman, 1st century B.C. – 1st century A.D.); bronze figure of Mercury, messenger of the Gods (Roman, 2nd century A.D.) and the sea goddess Tethys captured mid-gesture in a floor mosaic (Roman, 3rd – 4th century A.D.) A fragmentary relief frieze carved in limestone (Greek, Tarentine, second half of the 4th Century B.C.) shows fluttering robes as women in a sanctuary flee from danger. There are also several striking examples of realism: a Roman magistrate is depicted in marble portrait bust (mid- 1st century A.D.) and a bronze Mercury (Roman, 2nd century A.D.), appears as a naked and athletically built young man.

Together, the works from different eras offer a distinctive tour through the doors of perception and the issues that have preoccupied artists for millennia—how they craft their materials to shape their forms, and how they harness the power of light to create illusions that trick the eye and the mind.