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closed Bizarre, novelty and extravagance in the European silks of the eighteenth

The show

Curated by Maddalena Terragni in collaboration with Gregorio Magnani

The exhibition, running from 15 December 2018 to 31 March 2019, presents an unprecedented dialogue between a selection of “bizarres” fabrics, from the FAR and TGL collections, and the work of the artist Stefano Arienti.

Bizarre, novelty and extravagance in the European silks of the eighteenth shows, in a contemporary and transversal perspective, a phenomenon of the history of the Western fabric. At the turn of the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, European weavers invent unusual decorative motifs by mixing them freely and drawing on all the cultural references that come from the East, without worrying about producing representations faithful to reality. It is precisely this approach in redesigning forms that is the common sign between these productions and the contemporary.

Following their own sensibility and interpreting the shapes, for the first time textile artisans can draw on the repertoire of designs and create for their polychrome silks abstract designs that wind sinuously mixing with geometric motifs, large fantastic inflorescences that blend with each other. depictions of Baroque architecture and oriental-style buildings. The realization of such demanding designs was made possible by the very high technical competence of the time, able to translate the novelties, the extravagances and the refinement of the decorations, sometimes difficult to read.

This free approach, common to eighteenth-century and contemporary productions, is reiterated and underlined by the site-specific intervention by Stefano Arienti .

The eighteenth-century worked silks

The “bizarres” are part of one of the most significant nuclei of the Antonio Ratti Foundation's textile collection: the worked silks of the 18th century.
There are about 800 exhibits, mostly Lyon and Venetian productions, which together testify all the technical, social and taste transformations that marked the European textile sector of that period. They are polychrome silk fabrics that stand out for the great use of gold and silver yarns and for the iconographic richness and damask and brocade weaves.

Stefano Arienti

Born in Asola (Mantua) in 1961, in 1980 he moved to Milan, where he still lives. He took part in the first group exhibition in 1985 at the former Brown Boveri factory, where he met Corrado Levi, his first teacher. With other young artists he frequented the Italian artistic environment in the moment of renewal following the seasons dominated by Arte Povera and the Transavantgarde.
He has held a series of solo and group exhibitions in Italian and foreign art galleries and institutions including: MAXXI Museum, Rome (2004); Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Foundation, Turin (2005); Querini Stampalia Foundation, Venice (2008); Palazzo Ducale, Mantua (2009); Museion, Bolzano (with Massimo Bartolini, 2011). He participated in the Venice Biennale (Open 1990, 1993); Istanbul Biennial (1992); XII Quadrennial of Rome, 1996 (first prize); Gwangju Biennial (2008). He taught at the Giacomo Carrara Academy of Fine Arts in Bergamo and at the IUAV University of Venice.

Works on display

Timetable and tickets


Via Cernobbio, 19 (Ratti)
22100 Como


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