Born in Milan in October 1937, Grazia Varisco is a key figure in kinetic and programmed art. From 1956 to 1960, she attended the Brera Academy of Fine Arts, and beginning in 1960 she joined Gruppo T, participating in the Miriorama events and, among others, those of the international Nouvelle Tendance movement. These events represented valuable opportunities for the artist to encounter and exchange with artists from both Italian and foreign groups active in the field of perception and experimentation. When the group experience ended, Varisco continued her research, experimentation and activity on her own.

Since the beginning of her career, Grazia Varisco has always shown a deep interest in balance and visual harmony. Her works are characterized by geometric lines, simple forms and a rigorous precision of execution. One of the distinctive aspects of Grazia Varisco’s work is interactivity. Her creations engage viewers, inviting them to actively participate in the artistic experience. For example, many of her works include moving parts or elements that change based on the viewer’s point of observation and movement. This active involvement creates a dialogue between the artwork, its surroundings and the viewer, stimulating a deeper and more personal connection. Another central theme in Varisco’s art is a reflection on spatial and temporal perception. Her works explore the illusion of movement and the relationship between time and space. Through the use of light effects and moving forms, Varisco creates works that challenge traditional perception and invite the viewer to explore new visual horizons.

National and international exhibitions in which she has participated include the Venice Biennale (1964 and 1986); the Rome Quadriennale (1965, 1973 and 1999); Trigon in Graz (1977); Arte italiana 60/82 at the Hayward Gallery, London (1982); Electra at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (1983); Triennale Toyama Now at the Museum of Modern Art, Toyama (1990); Force Fields. Phases of the Kinetic at the Museu d’Art Contemporani, Barcelona and Hayward Gallery, London (2000); Beyond Geometry at the Los Angeles County Museum and Miami Art Museum (2004); Gli ambienti del Gruppo T at the National Gallery of Modern Art, Rome (2005); Lo sguardo del collezionista. Opere della Fondazione VAF at the Mart in Rovereto, 2005; Op Art at the Schirn Kunstalle in Frankfurt, 2007; Arte cinetica e programmata at the National Gallery of Modern Art in Rome (2012).

In 2007, nominated by the Accademia di San Luca, she received the National President of the Republic Award for Sculpture from then-President Giorgio Napolitano, and as a result she was titled “Academician of St Luke.” In terms of acknowledgement, in 2018 Varisco also received the A. Feltrinelli Prize for Visual Arts from the Accademia dei Lincei.

Her works may be found in museums and both public and private collections in Italy and abroad, including the Collezione Farnesina, Collezione Accademia di San Luca and Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna in Rome, MAMbo in Bologna, Fondazione Museo de Arte Moderno Jesus Soto in Ciudad Bolivar, Museum of Würzburg, Museum Ritter in Waldenbuch, Galleria d’Arte Moderna in Gallarate, MAC in Lissone, Museo di Villa Croce in Genoa, Museo della Permanente, Fondazione Prada, Gallerie d’Italia and the Museo del ’900 in Milan, the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris.

M77 had the honor of presenting Ospitare lo Spazio in 2020: a solo exhibition featuring Grazia Varisco hosted by Danilo Eccher. The exhibition proposed a visual and three-dimensional investigation of the theme of space and its geometries through a selection of sculptures and installations. The works selected for the exhibition largely chronicled the artist’s career through a selection that included works from the 1960s along with more recent works by the artist, highlighting the work of experimentation and research on the grammar of space carried out by Grazia Varisco throughout her career.

Gallery Exhibition

M77 Gallery presents Hosting Space, a solo exhibit by Grazia Varisco (1937), curated by Danilo Eccher. The exhibition will be open to the public from 19th November until 29th February.
The solo exhibit is presented as an aesthetic permeation which seeks to establish a dialogue between the works of art and the architecture and spaces of this gallery on via Mecenate. The result is an intense visual and three-dimensional study of space and its layout, which draws on a selection of sculptures and installations by the Milanese artist. Since Grazia Varisco began her work in the early 1960s, she has been a key figure in Italian kinetic and programmed art. The earliest pieces chosen for this exhibition derive from the 1970s, when the Mi-
lan-born artist experienced her high point in production, but the exhibit also includes recent works, revealing the intensely personal, radical, yet systematic research the artist has conducted on the grammar of space.

“From my experience, ‘chance’ is something that worms its way between probability and doubt, like a disorderly tangle. ‘Chance’ avoids and tries to dodge chaos to set itself up in space and time, ignoring the demand for precision, regularity, orthogonality, order, chronological sequence. My hesitant ‘If…’ nestles into the fold of the page, and this, by ‘chance’, rips up the rulebook that traps everything in normality through the letterpress and bookbinding process”; with these words Varisco interprets and presents the content of her research.

The pieces are thus lexicalised across the two gallery floors. These floors are not presented as worlds that are secluded and distinct from each other, but rather as communicative and permeating. Varisco’s pieces are hosted spaces that at the same time play host themselves. And it is in this way that we are greeted by the spatial magnificence of pieces such as the Oh! (1996) installation (made up of two circular iron components which mark the gallery space, playing on real and illusory three-dimensionality), Extrapagina (“Extra page”) (1983) and the extraordinary, six-metre long Grande Dépliant (“Large Leaflet”) (1983-84).

The upper floor, meanwhile, hosts Quadri comunicanti 7+1 (“Communicating pictures 7+1”) (2008), Quadri comunicanti filo rosso (“Red thread communicating pictures”) (2008), Quadri comunicanti Jar (“Jar communicating pictures”) (2012) and Comunicanti in Acciaio (“Communicating in steel”) (2008). These pieces reflect on the full/empty dichotomy, bringing into question the existence of a preestablished order, and are lined up to create a horizon that, although subtle, distinguishes the overall space and the viewer’s gaze. From the middle of the room arises Gnom-one, two, three (1984), a large sculpture made up of three square, two-dimensional, metal pieces – bent in such a way as to delineate and host the space without occupying it.

The exhibition concludes with two pieces: the ambiguous Meridiana (“Sundial”) (1974), which the Gnom-one, two, three sculpture originates from. In this piece, part of a raised perimeter creates a shadow that projects onto the flat surface, contrasting with the shadows drawn by the artist. The other concluding piece takes the form of the four Spazi Potenziali (“Potential Spaces”) (1973-76). Here, two metal frames, taken from the perimeter of the works themselves and hung up on a grille of spikes, create an imbalance and indicate, with extreme concision, a feeling of set-up causality.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue, containing Danilo Eccher’s conversation with the artist.