Carol Rama: Antibodies

Carol Rama was a self-taught Italian artist who earned late career recognition and cult status for the grotesque eroticism of her figurative work.

Carol Rama in New York City

Carol Rama Antibodies is a retrospective at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in the Lower East Side April 26 – September 10, 2017. The exhibition of over 150 of her paintings, objects, and works on paper is the first New York museum survey of the artist’s work, and the largest exhibition of her work in the United States.

The exhibition is curated by Helga Christoffersen, Assistant Curator, and Massimiliano Gioni, Edlis Neeson Artistic Director.

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Fergus McCaffrey New York in Chelsea, had an exhibition of Rama’s work in September-October 2016.

Carol Rama saw Something in the Unbeautiful

Carol Rama by Pino Dell'Aquila

Carol Rama by Pino Dell’Aquila around 1980
Carol Rama was born in Turin, Italy, in 1918.

When she was a teenager, Rama’s mother was committed to a psychiatric hospital, and her father went bankrupt and killed himself. Perhaps these early experiences marked her, for Rama seemed to find beauty where most people didn’t think beauty exists.

Whatever the reason, Rama’s vision places her in a very contemporary framework where ugly is beautiful, and people can be masculine, feminine, both, or neither.

In her time, that vision caused trouble. Rama’s first exhibition in 1945 was shut down by the police for its explicit sexuality. After that, she turned toward the direction of the abstract Concrete Art movement.

In the 1970s Rama began working with worn out rubber tires. This fascination may have had something to do with her father who owned a bicycle tire factory before his death.

In the 1980s the artist returned to the figurative expression of her youth.

Rama was awarded the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the Venice Biennale in 2003. She died in 2015.

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