Born in 1918 and awarded the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the 50th Venice Biennale in 2003, Carol Rama’s engraved work develops in two phases, linked to the figurative periods in the artist’s career. Curated by Franco Masoero, the exhibition starts with the series of the Parche [The Parchae], etchings depicting disturbing figures of women, which were exhibited for the first time at the Venice Biennale of 1948. After an interval of almost half a century, Carol Rama then returned to engraving in 1993, and has subsequently produced about 160 works to date counting etchings, aquatints and vernis mou, often re-worked by hand with varnishes and watercolours (up to the most recent Le amiche [The Girlfriends]). This engraved corpus constitutes a vast and complete repertoire of the recurrent motifs in the artist’s figurative production: hands, feet, sexual organs; the udders and teeth of the Mucca pazza [Mad Cow], the red tongues of the Malelingue [Evil Tongues], the provocative Cadeau [Gifts].
This world is populated with obsessions and anguish, but treated with a rhythmical and musical sense of composition and a light elegant line that tends towards irony, verve and the grotesque.
The nucleus of the engravings exhibited is accompanied and completed by a selection of unique pieces produced in recent years. In these, the artist shows her predilection for combining painting with objects and different materials, from the bristles of a brush that recall the harsh coat of bulls, to the aquatints impressed on canvas that create a structural (and emotionally evocative) base for bizarre collages and delicate paintings.
The catalogue raisonné of Carol Rama’s engraved work reproduces about 170 engravings accompanied by detailed critical entries. The book includes a number of illustrations of unique pieces that are most closely connected to the engraved work, as well as previously unpublished photographs of the artist at work. The book concludes with a critical anthology and a bibliography, both specifically devoted to the artist’s graphic oeuvre.