LYNCH THAM, in collaboration with the Archivio Cavellini, is pleased to present GUGLIELMO ACHILLE CAVELLINI, a survey exhibition covering two distinctive bodies of Cavellini’s works beginning 1966, when he started to devote himself entirely towards self-oriented artworks, to late 1970 when he became famous for autobiographical artistic endeavors associated with Autostoricizzazione (self-historicization).
On view are two pivotal series: Crates with Destroyed Works (1966-1970), and From the Page of the Encyclopedia (from 1973).
Crates with Destroyed Works are a collection of works Cavellini made by destroying the art he was creating and subsequently encasing them into crates. These works originated from an internal and emotional source, revealing an attitude brought about by a deep and obsessive self-search. The work encapsulated a strong sense of self-purging and annihilation as he would destroy his work for the sole purpose of re-creating a new ideal, a new form of work.
From the Page of the Encyclopedia is a series of works originated from a theoretical and linguistic code Cavellini invented as a direct consequence of self-historicization. By the 1970s, Cavellini had adjusted his self-oriented works to autobiographical projects that expressed the idea of self-historicization. Starting from actual biography, Cavellini would expand his own life story to temporal hyperbolic appropriations. Fabric, objects, clothing and live people would become a direct canvas for Cavellini to “paint” his story. While Crates with Destroyed Works relate to issues of self-annihilation, From the Page of the Encyclopedia are text-based works that allowed Cavellini to insert himself into the past and future art history, thereby exploring the idea of self-expansion in these works.
Cavellini is a historically important artist who gave context to the Italian Experimentation period and was the first artist to bridge postwar-Italian art with American Pop art. Yet, his diverse body of work defies easy classification. He had quite spontaneously eradicated art/life boundaries, recycled imagery from past works, appropriated and reused other artists’ works, generated exhibition possibilities, staged live events, utilized advertising strategies, inserted fictions into real events, celebrated silliness and devised publicity stunts. Throughout his career as an artist, Cavellini executed paintings, objects, works and performances that would relate to, and anticipate practices such as Art & Language cataloguing systems, John Baldessari’s text panels, Joseph Beuys’ felt suit, Marcel Broodthaers’ poetic diagrams, Chris Burden’s performance relics, Hanne Darboven’s all-over writing, Robert Filliou’s unstructured games, Gilbert and George’s posturing, Ray Johnson’s mail art, Yayoi Kusama’s polka dot obliterations, Cildo Meireles’ Insertions into global systems, Allen Ruppersberg’s Picture of Dorian Gray and Lucas Samaras’ boxed shrines.
Guglielmo Achille Cavellini was born in Brescia in 1914. His artist’s books are represented in the permanent holdings of New York’s Franklin Furnace and in the archive on 20th century art maintained by the Venice Biennale. His work is in many private and public collections including the Civiche Raccolte Comune di Milano, Museo Pecci Prato, Museo MART Rovereto, Museo di Cavalese Trento, Collezione citta di Pesaro, Civica Raccolta del disegno Sal, FRAC Nord Pas de Calais and Le Consortium Dijon in France, among many others.