Interview with the Secretary General Carlotta Montebello
in collaboration with Laura Berra (collection manager) and Federico Giani (curator)
by Elvio Bordignon
and Margherita Chiara Immordino Tedesco
Arnaldo Pomodoro is a great Italian artist who needs no introduction. He lived and worked almost all over the 20th century and today he is looking at the new century with innate curiosity and wonder. His works are like jewels that adorn and embellish the earth but do more, they also give it importance. It would be nice in this regard and I propose to the Arnaldo Pomodoro Foundation if it has not yet been done, to take pictures from the top of the space (on the 50th anniversary of the first landing on the Moon) to highlight these authentic jewels often set outside private homes and public places. Perhaps, with a different vision, they could take on new and unprecedented meanings that have remained hidden because they are used to looking at things from a single horizontal point of view.
His works have the magical and ancestral power to disorient, destabilize, enchant, scandalize, move, terrify, seduce those who come across them by mistake or on his own initiative. They do not leave you indifferent because without telling you it is perceived that they are part of man since the mists of time and so you feel that they are also part of us and our moods and thoughts often conflicting. The importance of Pomodoro’s work, therefore, lies in his careful observation and understanding of the relationship between sculpture and the surrounding space, achieving the main objective of transforming the same existing spaces, enriching them with his works that bring further levels of meaning to urban areas. The artist has been able to explore the form of our world and even our mind through his sculptures, which present both uncontaminated and shiny surfaces and signs of destruction in an almost perpetual continuous motion.
These opposing conditions underline the eternal changes to which we have always been exposed and the beauty of our world that oscillates back and forth between unity and decadence. Famous are the series of ‘Spheres’ whose inner layers containing gears are the symbol of the complexity and subtlety of our world. Pomodoro explained the reason for the Spheres in one of his many interviews: “The Sphere is a perfect, magical form and I break it to discover the internal fermentations, mysterious and living. It’s an extraordinary object because it reflects everything around it and creates such contrasts that it sometimes transforms and no longer appears.
Instead, its interior remains, tormented and corroded, full of teeth, tangles, gorges…”. Pomodoro was bewitched by the perfect shape of this geometric figure but at the same time caused the rupture of its uncontaminated roundness causing an internal conflict, tension that threatens to tear and explode the entire shape. In addition to the Spheres, Pomodoro has created many other sculptures inspired by the solids of geometry. Just to name a few. The Pietrarubbia Group is a cycle that began in 1975 and ended in 2015, dedicated to the small village of the same name in Montefeltro. In 1983, for Amaliehaven Square in Copenhagen, he created the imposing group of Pillars for Amaliehaven and the large Forma solare fountain, installed between the garden and the sea. Also in 1983 he created the four Forms of Myth, which participated in the World Expo in Brisbane in 1988 and were finally installed the following year in the City Square of the city.
Another important work by Pomodoro is the sculpture Colpo d’ala: a tribute to Boccioni, installed in Los Angeles, in the middle of a large fountain in front of the Water and Power Building. There are also many Spheres located in public and private spaces around the world: from the Sphere with Sphere located in the Courtyard of the Pine of the Vatican Museums to that located in the United Nations Square in New York, to those of Trinity College in Dublin and the Hakone Open Air Museum in Japan. In 1995 the artist founded the Arnaldo Pomodoro Foundation in Milan, which has the task of ensuring the correct information about his work, for its cataloging and knowledge and better preservation.
The aim of the Foundation is also to promote studies related to the history and criticism of modern and contemporary art, to organize debates and cultural conferences, to publish magazines and books in the field of culture, art, literature and to establish an award for young artists. This year the Arnaldo Pomodoro Foundation celebrates 24 years of activity and is continuously evolving following the spirit and vision of its founder. The following interview aims to give an insight into the new activities and initiatives designed and the new external collaborations.
The Arnaldo Pomodoro Foundation never ceases to surprise because after so many years it still wants to improve. What are the main guidelines that will characterize the future of the Foundation?
Our guidelines are the same as when we were born: to guarantee the correct information and conservation of all the works of Arnaldo Pomodoro, to promote research and moments of comparison around the most important themes and figures of the contemporary avant-garde, to support young sculptors and to organize educational activities to bring the public closer to the world of art.
As time went by, the modalities changed, but not the heart of our action. In the last three years we have rethought and consolidated our initiatives to support young people (the annual cycle of Project Rooms and the Arnaldo Pomodoro Award for Sculpture) and enriched our program of educational activities, which are aimed at all possible types of audiences. In the next few years we will also be strongly committed to completing the Maestro’s online Raisonné Catalogue, reorganising and enhancing his Archive, and promoting our Collection – made up of works by Pomodoro and other artists – through loans for temporary exhibitions and long-term loans.
A Foundation that deals with art and culture can only be attentive and open to everything that happens around it. In this regard, are you planning initiatives aimed at collecting and supporting the best in the cultural sense?
Observing the surrounding landscape and supporting the best is the spirit that animates our initiatives aimed at young people. Both with the Project Rooms, annual cycles of exhibitions of young artists under 35 that we organize at our exhibition space in Via Vigevano 9, and with the Arnaldo Pomodoro Prize for Sculpture, which this year has reached its fifth edition and which aims, every two years, to take stock of the contemporary art scene, pointing out a sculptor whose path consists in both theoretical and practical reflection on making sculpture today. The 2019 edition of the Prize was won by Aleksandra Domanovic (1981, Novi Sad – Serbia) who in a couple of months will exhibit a very interesting installation in augmented reality at the GAM in Milan, in dialogue with a work by Medardo Rosso (from 12 November 2019 to 6 January 2020).
Social media are also changing the perception of art. The works can be distributed to the mass interactively and in real time to be at least made known. What are your projects on this?
Social media have become an essential means of communication and promotion, even in the world of art, and in general digital technology is increasingly questioning us about our perception of things and, as chance would have it, Aleksandra Domanovic’s installation at GAM will talk about this theme!
We believe that the “dematerialization” of works of art offered by the digital world can be an interesting opportunity to tell the real works in a different way and perhaps more attractive to new generations, as well as to break down the distances and maybe make usable situations that normally are not. For this reason, in 2017 we had Labyr-Into created, a virtual version of the work Entrance to the Labyrinth, a 170sqm environment created by Arnaldo Pomodoro and located in the underground spaces of the former Museum of the Foundation, in Via Solari 35 in Milan, which can be accessed a few days a year with guided tours organized by our Educational Department.
From your website you can see that there is also a lot of care and attention for children and teens (I went to art school, I am the son of teachers and I have seven grandchildren so for me it is praiseworthy and remarkable). Does your precious contribution aim more to create in the future new artists, new collectors, new operators and experts (restorers, managers, gallery owners) or new and “simpler” visitors?
The Educational Department was established in 2007, when we had the Museum in Via Solari. At that time, as today, we felt the need to be able to transmit our passion for art to everyone, regardless of their cultural background or level of education. In fact, I would say that the biggest challenge is to bring together those people who somehow “distrust” the art world because they feel unprepared, lacking the tools to understand it.
Our culture making cannot be addressed only to those who already say they are interested, on the contrary, they must address everyone and must be able to make our heritage “approachable” to anyone. Since 2017, the Foundation has been operating in a widespread manner and, although more complex and articulated, we believe that this is the best way to create synergies and links with the territory, to meet new potential art lovers!
The works of the Master are placed in the world, in public and private spaces, thanks to the numerous commissions that have followed one another over time. Could you suggest an ideal itinerary (or more) to experience them all or almost all?
In the Raisonné Catalogue of the Master’s Sculpture, which we put online last April (https://www.fondazionearnaldopomodoro.it/cosa-facciamo/catalogue-raisonne/login), it is already possible to begin to discover all the works that are placed in public spaces around the world. Starting from here, it would certainly be interesting to develop travel itineraries to discover the works of Pomodoro, or a real tour of the world! At the moment the Foundation proposes the “Pomodoroincittà” tour, a guided tour through the city of Milan to discover the public and private places where the works of the Master are exhibited: it is an opportunity to look at the city with new eyes, rediscovering the link between the urban fabric, the artistic heritage and the institutions that host and preserve it.