Andy Warhol, “Ileana Sonnabend,” 1973. The Sonnabend Collection. © Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, by SIAE 2011

From May 29–October 2, 2011 – Peggy Guggenheim Collection – Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation

Ileana Sonnabend. An Italian Portrait brings together more than 60 works by almost 50 artists, selected by Antonio Homem (director of the Sonnabend Gallery, New York, and adopted son of Ileana Sonnabend). It will include Andy Warhol’s portrait of Ileana Sonnabend, works on Italian themes by Robert Rauschenberg and Cy Twombly, works by Italians such as Tano Festa, Lucio Fontana, Mimmo Rotella, Schifano and Piero Manzoni, works by American artists inspired by Italian culture (Jim Dine, James Rosenquist, John Baldessari for example), by artists of the Arte Povera movement (Zorio, Anselmo, Calzolari, Jannis Kounnelis, and Merz), by several international photographers (including Bernd and Hilla Becher, Candida Höfer, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Max Becher and Andrea Robbins), and by many others—whether Italian (Giulio Paolini, Luigi Ontani) or not (Bruce Nauman, Anselm Kiefer, Philip Haas, Rona Pondick for example).
Today she is not as well known as her ex-husband Leo Castelli but Ileana Sonnabend (1914-2007) was his equal in being one of the great figures of the art world in the XXth century. A Romanian beauty and heiress of a great industrial dynasty, Ileana Schapira (she took the name of her second husband, Michael Sonnabend) linked her destiny to that of the young executive of the Generali insurance company, when he was on a mission in Bucharest on the eve of World War II. It was in the United States that the two discovered their talents as exceptional art dealers and collectors. The exhibition set up in the sanctuary of another exceptional woman – Peggy Guggenheim – can be looked at like a Who’s Who of the great art currents, from the avant-gardes of the fifties to the most recent ones, from Rauschenberg to Lichtenstein, from the Becher couple to Jeff Koons. But the aim of this exhibition is mainly to illustrate the links Ileana Sonnabend had with Italy, embodied not only in the Arte povera (Kounellis, Merz, Pistoletto) but in Fontana’s slashes or Mimmo Rotella’s reassembled collages as well.

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