Friday 29 June 2007

Anarchy at the Guggenheim

The Edward Carpenter anniversary provides me with an extremely tangential excuse for yet another mention of our recent visit to New York. If you own the Gay Men’s Press edition of Carpenter’s prose poem Towards Democracy, you may have wondered about the provenance of this painting on the cover:

It’s ‘Il Quarto Stato’ (The Fourth Estate) by Italian painter Giuseppe Pellizza da Volpedo (not da Volpe, as it says on the book). While in New York we visited the Guggenheim and saw the exhibition 'Arcadia and Anarchy: Divisionism and Neo-Impressionism'. Apparently the Divisionists (who included da Volpedo) were mostly northern Italian painters, working in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, many of whom espoused anarchist and socialist ideas. The exhibition, which runs until 9th August, offers a fascinating insight into way in which politics, ideas and art came together during that turbulent period.
The exhibition is one of the few things you can actually see right now at the Guggenheim: the usually stunning exterior of the building is covered up for renovation, while most of the panels on the famous sloping walkways inside are empty.

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