Carla Accardi

Among the pioneers of Feminism in Italy

By La Galleria Nazionale

Art has always been man’s realm. Just when we enter this very masculine field of creativity, the need we feel is to dispel all the prestige that surrounds it and that has made it inaccessible.

Because woman has this peculiar feature of her that, after she faced any activity in the male field, after that first experiment that got her to behave like men, and fail completely, she came forward saying: “ok, after you have been talking about it for such a long time, here we are – this is a simple little thing. Look at it, you too, it’s just like that”.

I wish that our speeches didn’t give the impression that women want to make everything less important: humanity has done so many extraordinary things, but since this fact of the superiority, of the important gesture presents itself at very low levels, it has become unbearable, so let’s destroy everything because the city clerk says “Listen, I am a man, I get back home, I fetch the newspaper, and it is a very important male gesture, so everyone must respect me”.

No, I’m sorry, I don’t want to be derogatory, I just want to bring things back to the point that a little thing gets on my nerves because it is given the importance of a big thing. You understand, it brings a tremendous imbalance in society because maybe his wife is much more intelligent than him, but he must really stay there as someone on the altar.

Men are just so: they make a gesture which is very important to them.

I just want to say: the gesture of a person is important if he is a person of quality and that gesture is of quality, but if a person has no great quality and the gesture he makes has no great quality, let it be – you understand – let it be that he reads the newspaper just like that, because he will only understand a fifth of it. I think that so far one wants to say this to the other people.

When I began to paint, it seemed necessary to do this experiment and demonstrate that women had the same creative possibilities as men. I didn’t know this because my experiences on the subject weren’t all that revealing.

Because all those examples... Sappho was a lesbian, Vittoria Colonna was a friend of Michelangelo, and this helped her, George Sand was masculinized and so on. In short, nothing was understood. That was what interested me then.

Naturally, taking an interest in this, wanting to demonstrate it meant that I had to have such a kind of life, a result, all the phenomenology on that of men because only in this way, I thought then, could I bear any witness.

So I really had to do some exceptional things as a career, as everything, because otherwise I would have shown little, I would have shown that I could go up to a certain point, without being able to go any further.

Carla Accardi

Origine (1976) by Carla AccardiLa Galleria Nazionale

Carla Accardi
(Trapani, 1924 - Rome, 2014)

The Sicilian Carla Accardi settled in Rome after the war, where she was the only woman who signed the manifesto of Forma 1 in 1947. Between 1953 and 1954, she laid the foundations for her new sign painting, which started from the so-called black and white period.

Around 1960, she introduced color into her painting and experimented with a new spatial dimension of sign through textures and wefts, where sign flows on the canvas, letting an intense energy leak out and produce optical provocations so far unknown.

This research found a further radicalization in the middle of the decade, when Accardi abandoned the canvas and directed her work beyond framework and painting through the use of sicofoil, a plastic material reacting to the light of the environment and giving the picture the dimension of a bright diaphragm. Sicofoil was also used for the production of Rotoli (Rolls), Coni (Cones) and works of environmental art, such as Tenda (Tent) or the installation Origine (Origin).

Plastic allows us to relate the inside and the outside, the work and the environment, creating a “system of interferences” between the self and life, thus leading the artist to “an operation of authenticity”, understood as a research that does not stop at the formal level but goes into a territory of subjective experimentation.

Among the pioneers of Feminism in Italy, Accardi signed the Manifesto di Rivolta Femminile with Elvira Banotti and Carla Lonzi in 1970. In 1976, she founded with other younger female artists, such as Anna Maria Colucci and Suzanne Santoro, Cooperativa Beato Angelico, an exhibition space focused on research and exchange, on the relationship between art and feminism.

As part of the Cooperative’s first year of programming, they presented Origine, a work that pays homage to matriline. Nineteen black-and-white photographs taken from a family album are applied to sicofoil strips arranged on the wall.

As Maria Bremer observes, “according to Accardi, motherhood becomes, in its dual meaning of biological creativity and self-realization, the place of origin of female individuality, accomplished through relationships ‘from woman to woman’, in a continuity indifferent to the history of man”.

Composizione (1950 - 1950) by Carla AccardiLa Galleria Nazionale

Credits: Story

Carla Accardi and Lara Conte
Works cited:
C. Lonzi, in C. Lonzi e C. Accardi, Discorsi, in “Marcatrè”, nn. 23-25, giugno 1996, rip. in Carla Lonzi. Scritti sull’arte, a cura di L. Conte, L. Imaurri, V. Martini, et. al., Milano 2012, p. 476.
C. Accardi, in Ibid.
M. Bremer, “From Woman to Woman”. Exhibiting Genealogy – Carla Accardi’s Origine, 1976 in “Palinsesti”, n. 8, 2019 link

Credits: All media
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