Carol Rama

A proto-feminist manifesto of sexual liberation

Presagi di Birnam (1979-1995) by Carol RamaLa Galleria Nazionale

Carol, I'd like to ask you what yellow, orange, red, purple, blue, green, brown, gray, white, black are for you. Ten questions.

So, dear Carol, what is yellow for you?
Yellow reminds me and makes me love Klimt’s painting ever more, with greater emotion, and then I enter precisely that rhythm that I can also orchestrate. What’s more, yellow reminds me a lot of the icons I have seen in my life.

What is orange for you?
Orange is a compromise between yellow and red and makes me irritable, a crazy neurosis, I don’t like it at all, I hate it.

What is red for you?
Red is an erotic excitement that sometimes enters my work, it gives and adds a little desperation to my anxieties, but it also heals them, it’s a color that I don’t choose easily, it’s not that I love it very much, it has a vitality inside extraordinary, however, I don’t feel it a friend.

Composizione (1979) by Carol RamaMart, Museum of modern and contemporary art of Trento and Rovereto

Purple is also a color that is not familiar to me. If used with skill, it does not allow me to be neither delinquent nor erotic, it does not give me images to start with, purple for me is a closure, if I have to close a job I close it with purple, perhaps without using it, it is difficult that in my career as an artist I have used purple, as well as in my life, in objects, clothes, fabric, no, no, no, because I am too provincial and perhaps too superficial, but it is also a true salvation? This is purple for me.

Blue helped me to conquer a bit of class since I never had any, that is, if I was thinking of a suit, a tablecloth it was blue, it is a color that helps me to feel relaxed, in the painting I made a watercolor with a blue dress, La signora Macor, few other things that I remember, but I have to recognize a very sad and true thing, which I have an immediate visual memory and immediately forget, it is part of my emotion to think more about blue than red, for example, or orange.

Green is a color that I would have used if I had done at least one landscape in my life, which I have never done, but green for me, when I happen to travel, to be able to see a mountain, a landscape from afar…

Green is a behavior of great tranquility and gives me desires that are not mine, that is, if I think of green I would like to make curtains, things that are not mine, even green is not my love, no, no. However, I did some green paintings that gave me joy, a small self-portrait of mine, because I feel green, in camouflage with the grass, for this reason.

C. Levi, L’arcobaleno in eclisse di Carol Rama

Presagi di Birnam (1979-1995) by Carol RamaLa Galleria Nazionale

Carol Rama
(Turin, 1918–2015)

Carol Rama (Olga Carolina Rama), was born into a middle-class family of Turin industrialists who suffered a serious economic collapse during the 1920s and was forced to declare bankruptcy.

The artist began painting as a self-taught in the 1930s, using painting, especially watercolor, as a therapeutic practice of self-healing.

Her subjects were immediately very unusual: shoes, dentures, animals, orthopedic prostheses, anatomical details such as pointed tongues, arms, phalluses, snakes, feet or amputated bodies stretched out in hospital beds or in disturbing wheelchairs.

Appassionata (Marta e i marchettoni) (1939) by Carol RamaLa Galleria Nazionale

Her bodies are also shamelessly sexed, they are bodies that masturbate, defecate or fornicate.

Dorina (1940) by Carol RamaLa Galleria Nazionale

“I love fetishes and sex. Sex dreamed, imagined. Everyday objects that give pleasure, that bring disorder and eros into everyday life”.

Appassionata (1939) by Carol RamaLa Galleria Nazionale

This series of works with explicit sexual connotations, showing an erotic and desiring female body, were exhibited for the first time in 1945 at Galleria Faber in Turin, which had to close on the day of the inauguration for outrage of modesty.

Dorina (1944) by Carol RamaLa Galleria Nazionale

In 1980, the art critic Lea Vergine tore the veil that concealed the activity of over one hundred European, Russian and American women artists from Cubism up to the neo-avant-gardes with the exhibition L’altra metà dell’avanguardia 1910-1940, at Palazzo Reale in Milan.

And it is thanks to this exhibition, the first of its kind in Italy, that the work of this extraordinary artist was finally able to be examined in its entirety.

Appassionata (1940) by Carol RamaGalleria Civica di Arte Moderna e Contemporanea Torino

The series of watercolors, on show at the National Gallery of Modern Art in Rome, are vulgar and crude representations of dismembered bodies, of uninhibited masturbatory acts, of female sexes visibly shown which, in retrospect, can actually be read as a sort of Proto-feminist manifesto of sexual liberation, without forgetting that they were made in the years of the most sinister fascist patriarchy.

Cecilia Canziani

Credits: Story

Carol Rama and Cecilia Canziani
Works cited:
C. Levi, L’arcobaleno in eclisse di Carol Rama, in Cristina Mundici (a cura di) “Carolrama”, Charta, Milano, 1998, pp. 50 – 54.
Teresa Grandas, Qu’ils aillent tous se faire voir. D’autres récits possible sur Carol Rama et Turin in La Passion selon Carol Rama, catalogo della mostra al Musèe d’Art Moderne de la ville de Paris, Aprile-Luglio 2015.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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