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Luigi Ontani in Rome – A major show at Accademia di San Luca

Luigi Ontani Rome

To celebrate the awarding of the Premio Presidente della Repubblica 2015 to Luigi Ontani, the Academy has invited the artist to devise the exhibition SanLuCa҆stoMalinIc҆onicoAttoniTnicoEstaEstEtico. The show will run from 17th May to 22nd September 2017, featuring works from each period of Ontani’s career to date, ranging from the tableaux vivants of the early 1970s to his recent ErmEstEtiche, some of which have been created specifically for this show and are exhibited here for the first time.

The rooms of Palazzo Carpegna will host approximately 60 works: Ontani’s early works will be on show in the rooms on the ground floor of the building, with the exhibition continuing up along Borromini’s helical ramp and culminating on the third floor in the rooms of the Academy’s Gallery, the itinerary permitting a rich dialogue with the works in the Academy’s historical collections.

In the ‘living iconographies’ of his celebrated tableaux vivants, Ontani himself becomes a simulacrum, taking on the guise of a series of figures from history, mythology, literature and popular culture, including Raphael, Leonardo and St. Luke. The exhibition also features the hand-coloured photographs of journeys and sojourns in the Far East (from 1972 onwards) in which the colours and traditions of the Orient infuse his work. His work of the 1980s is characterized by experiments with other materials including papier-mâché, wood, ceramics and Murano glass, with which Ontani transposes into sculpture the themes of the mask and of the hybridization of gods and idols that he had previously explored in his photographic work. The exhibition continues with examples of his Anamorpose (lenticular photographic prints that he began creating in 2000), furniture and ‘domestic’ objects created in ceramics and glass, and then, in conclusion, the ErmEstEtiche, Canopi and BellimBusTi series in ceramics.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a bilingual catalogue (Italian and English) with introductory texts by the President of the Accademia Nazionale di San Luca, Gianni Dessì, and the Academy’s Secretary General, Francesco Moschini, a critical analysis by Ester Coen, a wide-ranging interview with Hans Ulrich Obrist and essays by the writers Aurelio Picco and Emanuele Trevi, along with texts to which Ontani himself has a particular attachment by Francesca Alinovi, Jan Hoet, Goffredo Parise and an unpublished poem by Valentino Zeichen.

Luigi Ontani’s art have been feautured around the world, from the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum to the Pompidou Centre, the Museo Reina Sofía to the Frankfurter Kunstverein. He has also participated in several editions of the Venice, Sydney, and Lyon biennales. Recently he has had three important retrospectives at the MoMA (2001), the SMAK in Ghent (2003–2004) and the MAMbo in Bologna (2008).


Exhibition dates: 17th May – 22nd September 2017

Venue: Accademia Nazionale di San Luca, piazza dell’Accademia di San Luca 77 – Rome

Information: tel. (+39) 06 679 8850;

Opening times: from Monday to Saturday: 10.00am – 7.00pm (last entrance 6.30pm). Closed on Sundays and from 6th to 27th August.

Entrance to the exhibition is free of charge


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