“Claudio Parmiggiani: Dematerialization”—February 2–May 5, 2019

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (December 13, 2018)—The Frist Art Museum presents revered Italian artist Claudio Parmiggiani’s first North American museum exhibition, Claudio Parmiggiani: Dematerialization, in the Gordon Contemporary Artists Project Gallery from February 2 through May 5, 2019. Organized by Frist Art Museum executive director Susan H. Edwards, the exhibition features a selection of fifteen two- and three-dimensional works that address the passage of time, mortality, absence, memory, and silence.

“Parmiggiani’s art stands against the grain of our frenetic, cacophonous, image-infused culture,” says Dr. Edwards. “His works are nuanced responses to and cautionary warnings about overabundance. His aesthetic calm provides room for reflection and the opportunity for a contemplative and transformative experience.”

More than forty years ago, Parmiggiani developed his signature process, delocazione (displacement), when he was first inspired by how contours are left in dust after objects are removed. The process creates negative shadows of forms and shapes, similar to those in photograms, cyanotypes, or batik prints. Instead of using photosensitive materials to achieve this effect, Parmiggiani harnesses fire and combustion in a controlled environment and allows soot, dust, and pigment to settle on objects such as bottles, books, butterflies, musical instruments, or shells. When objects are removed, indexical signs similar to a footprint or a photograph are left on the backgrounds—walls, boards, or canvases—showing what was previously there.

Parmiggiani was born in 1943 in Luzzara, Italy, a commune on the banks of the Po River in the region of Emilia-Romagna. As a teen, he saw his family home, where he made early drawings, engulfed in flames and destroyed by fire. Later, he would use the destructive power of fire as a creative tool. From 1959 to 1961, the artist attended the Accademia di Belle Arti in Modena. During that time, he became a regular visitor to the studio of Giorgio Morandi, whose incomparable mastery of light and focus on humble subjects made a lasting impression, which is evidenced in a major installation at the Frist where delocazione bottles on shelves fill an entire wall. Marcel Duchamp and Piero Manzoni are also often cited as influences. Although Parmiggiani is associated with the Arte Povera movement and conceptualism of the 1960s and 1970s, he works somewhere in between.

In a powerful delocazione panel (Untitled, 2017) books appear burned and vaporized. “Parmiggiani places high value on the importance of reading and libraries. He collects rare books and is surrounded by books in his home and studio. His art is richly informed by philosophy, poetry, literature, and history,” says Dr. Edwards.

The artist is also interested in the growth patterns found in nature articulated through the Fibonacci sequence and associated with classical ratios found in architecture and music, an example being his delocazione of a nautilus shell (Untitled, 2014) with its empty chambers rhythmically configured. For decades, he has incorporated butterflies into his art, and this exhibition includes four such works. “Caterpillars and butterflies are ancient and universal symbols of change, personal transformation, and the stages of the life cycle, including resurrection,” says Dr. Edwards. “By capturing their dynamic and inert states, Parmiggiani freezes time for the scrutiny and pleasure of viewers.” She adds, “By placing butterflies on the strings of an antique harp [Untitled, 2011], motion and sound are paused. The stillness and silence imply fleeting beauty.”

To sum up the exhibition, Dr. Edwards notes, “Parmiggiani: Dematerialization asks probing questions that lead to more complex uncertainties rather than to definitive answers. Prolonged engagement with his art confirms that there is always more than meets the eye.”

Exhibition Credit

Organized by the Frist Art Museum

Public Programs

Saturday, February 2
Claudio Parmiggiani: Dematerialization Gallery talk with Susan Edwards
11:00 a.m.

Meet at the exhibition entrance
Free to members; admission required for not-yet-members

Reservations recommended but not required (no fee); register at FristArtMuseum.org/talk
Questions? Call 615.744.3355

Claudio Parmiggiani: Dematerialization, the artist’s first museum exhibition in the United States, explores universal themes of time, absence, memory, and silence. Join Susan Edwards, executive director and CEO of the Frist Art Museum, for a deeper look at Parmiggiani’s artistic practice and his signature process of delocazione (displacement).

Saturday, March 9
World premiere: A dance work inspired by Dematerialization presented by the Nashville Ballet
1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.

Frist Art Museum Auditorium
Free; first come; first seated

Members of NB2, Nashville Ballet’s official second company, will perform a pas de deux created by Christopher Stuart, Nashville Ballet’s resident choreographer. Spend time with the Claudio Parmiggiani exhibition before and after the performance; we offer docent-guided tours almost every day at 1:30 p.m. (reservations not required). For more about the Nashville Ballet and NB2, visit nashvilleballet.com.

Thursday, March 21
Art After Dark: Claudio Parmiggiani: Dematerialization
6:30 p.m.

Meet at the exhibition entrance
Free to members; admission required for not-yet-members
Register at FristArtMuseum.org/talk

Enrich your Thursday nights with open-ended discussions in the galleries that will heighten your appreciation and understanding of the visual arts. Come alone or bring your friends to explore in depth a single work of art, in the company of Frist Art Museum educators. The chosen object changes every session, making each Art After Dark a new experience. Space is limited to 15 participants to encourage interaction, so reservations are recommended (no extra fee). Questions? Call 615.744.3355.

Sponsor Acknowledgment

This exhibition is supported in part by Friends of Contemporary Art, the Metro Nashville Arts Commission, the Tennessee Arts Commission, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Buddy Kite: 615.744.3351, ”
Ellen Jones Pryor: 615.243.1311, ”

About the Frist Art Museum
Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, the Frist Art Museum is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit art exhibition center dedicated to presenting and originating high-quality exhibitions with related educational programs and community outreach activities. Located at 919 Broadway in downtown Nashville, Tenn., the Frist Art Museum offers the finest visual art from local, regional, national, and international sources in exhibitions that inspire people through art to look at their world in new ways. The Frist Art Museum’s newly renovated Martin ArtQuest Gallery features interactive stations relating to Frist Art Museum exhibitions. Information on accessibility can be found at FristArtMuseum.org/accessibility. Gallery admission is free for visitors 18 and younger and for members; $12 for adults; $9 for seniors and college students with ID; and $7 for active military. College students are admitted free Thursday and Friday evenings (with the exception of Frist Fridays), 5:00–9:00 p.m. Groups of 10 or more can receive discounts with advance reservations by calling 615.744.3247. The galleries, café, and gift shop are open seven days a week: Mondays through Wednesdays, and Saturdays, 10:00 a.m.–5:30 p.m.; Thursdays and Fridays, 10:00 a.m.–9:00 p.m.; and Sundays, 1:00–5:30 p.m., with the café opening at noon. For additional information, call 615.244.3340 or visit FristArtMuseum.org.

Please consider supporting the Frist Art Museum with a donation. Your gift is essential to our mission of serving the community through the arts and art access in particular. We truly appreciate your generosity.