Carol Rama - Lévy Gorvy

Carol Rama

Carol Rama

Carol Rama’s iconoclastic practice holds a singular place in the history of twentieth-century art. Although subject to censorship and marginalization during her lifetime due to the highly subversive nature of her work, Rama has been celebrated in recent years as a key avant-garde figure in the development of both abstraction and figuration from 1930s onward. The influence of her innovative oeuvre on both her contemporaries and a younger generation of artists worldwide has been recognized internationally. A figure parallel to such artists as Louise Bourgeois, Méret Oppenheim, and Eva Hesse, Rama has received her place in art history since 2003, when she was awarded the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the 50th Venice Biennale. From October 2014 until August 2016, the retrospective exhibition The Passion According to Carol Rama, co-organized by and first held at the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona and the Musée d’art moderne de la Ville de Paris, has traveled to the Espoo Museum of Modern Art, Finland; the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; and the Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Turin. An artist far ahead of her time, Rama proposes an embodied vision of humanity beyond binary gender confines, figuring the body as a site of intensity, desire, affect, and resistance to normalcy in a multitude of ways and media over the course of her seven-decade career. Credited with pioneering such radical ways of painting as “organic abstraction” and “queer abstraction,” as described by the curators of the traveling retrospective, “Rama invents sensurrealism, an art of the visceral-specific, porn brut, organic abstraction. And, today, she appears as an essential artist for understanding the mutations of representation in the twentieth century and the later work of artists like Cindy Sherman, Kara Walker, Sue Williams, Kiki Smith and Elly Strik.”

Born in 1918 in Turin, Rama never received formal training. She began her artistic production in the mid-1930s, before the onset of the Second World War. In her evocative watercolor paintings of the thirties and forties, Rama insists on the corporeality and vitality of the human experience: in these paintings, bodies actively copulate, defecate, and disobey. Her early paintings were received by the public as being scandalous and obscene, anticipating the dismissal of Rama’s work by the dominant art historical discourse for many decades to come.

In the 1950s, Rama turned to geometric abstraction and became involved with the Concrete Art Movement. Then from the early 1960s onward, themes of the body and discarded objects re-emerged in her work not by means of representation, but as material itself. This method is now widely referred to as “bricolage,” a term coined by the Italian poet and intellectual Edoardo Sanguineti, a life-long close friend of Rama, specifically in reference to Rama’s work of the 1960s. Rama applied paint in viscous, splattered configurations as if it were bodily fluid, and made collages in which taxidermist’s and doll glass eyes, surgical tubes, syringes, and electrical cords evoke organisms in various stages of life and decay. Throughout her career, Rama was profoundly influenced by writers and artists such as Felice Casorati, Pablo Picasso, Albino Galvano, Edoardo Sanguineti, Corrado Levi, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Italo Calvino, Luciano Berio, and Carlo Mollino, among others. In the 1970s, Luciano Anselmino, her gallerist at the time, introduced her to Andy Warhol, Orson Welles, and Man Ray, among others. Around this time, she began to incorporate rubber bicycle tires into her work, using the material in a way that simulated not only machine parts but also human skin and loose appendages.

In the 1980s, Rama returned to figuration in full, prompted by the critical acclaim her early work earned as a result of curator Lea Vergine’s exhibition L’altra metà dell’avanguardia (The Other Half of the Avant-Garde). Vergine would go on to organize the first retrospective of Rama’s work in 1985 at the Milan Sagrato del Duomo, which included the artist’s late drawings of mythological beasts and sexually explicit figures, done directly on various kinds of found paper (topographical maps, architectural blueprints, and mathematical diagrams). Rama would continue working figuratively until 2007. Her artistic production continued until she was ninety years old; she died in Turin on September 24, 2015. Other recent exhibitions of Rama’s work have been held at the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin and the Museo di Arte Contemporanea di Rovereto e Trento (both in 2004); the Ulmer Museum, Ulm (2004–05); the Museo Materiali Minimi de Arte Contemporanea, Paestum (2007); and the Palazzo Ducale, Genoa (2008).

Lévy Gorvy and Galerie Isabella Bortolozzi are the worldwide exclusive representatives of Rama's work and Estate and they collaborate with Archivio Carol Rama in maintaining their role in tirelessly furthering Rama’s legacy and reputation.


Selected Works

  • Carol Rama Selected Work 01

    Carol Rama.
    Movimento e immobilità di Birnam,
    Bicycle inner tube and iron hook on coated canvas,
    59 × 50 1⁄2 inches (149.0 × 128.3 cm).
    © Archivio Carol Rama, Torino.
    Photo: Pino Dell’Aquila.

  • Carol Rama's painting Bricolage, 1966

    Carol Rama.
    Taxidermy eyes, vinyl glue, and ink on paper,
    12 3/4 x 17 3/4 inches (32.4 x 45.1 cm).
    © Archivio Carol Rama, Torino.
    Photo: Elisabeth Bernstein.

  • Carol Rama's sculpture Presagi di Birnam, 1975

    Carol Rama.
    Presagi di Birnam,
    Rubber tires, iron hook on canvas and sheet metal,
    65 3/8 x 23 5/8 inches (166 x 60 cm).
    © Archivio Carol Rama, Torino.
    Photo: Elisabeth Bernstein.

  • Carol Rama's painting Bricolage (serpente), 1966

    Carol Rama.
    Bricolage (serpente),
    Electric wire, metal shavings, tempera and spray paint on leather,
    9 7/16 x 25 9/16 inches (24 x 65 cm).
    © Archivio Carol Rama, Torino.
    Photo: Elisabeth Bernstein.

  • Carol Rama's painting Autorattristatrice n.8, 1970

    Carol Rama.
    Autorattristatrice n.8,
    Enamel and resin on linen,
    43 5/16 x 43 5/16 inches (110 x 110 cm).
    © Archivio Carol Rama, Torino.
    Photo: Elisabeth Bernstein.

  • Carol Rama's painting Bricolage, 1967

    Carol Rama.
    Mixed media on canvas,
    3 11/16 x 17 1/2 inches (34.7 x 44.5 cm).
    © Archivio Carol Rama, Torino.
    Photo: Stefan Altenburger.

  • Carol Rama's collage Arsenale, 1971

    Carol Rama.
    Rubber tire on canvas,
    31 1/2 x 39 1/2 inches (80 x 100 cm).
    © Archivio Carol Rama, Torino.



Carol Rama: Eye of Eyes

March 15, 2019


Museum Exhibitions


Selected Press

Der Tagesspiegel | Erotische Träume mit Blutegeln

November 23, 2021

Zeit ihres Lebens hat die 1918 geborene Carol Rama versucht, sich mit Hilfe der Kunst von ihren familiären …

La Stampa | Corpus Domini: dal corpo glorioso alle rovine dell’anima (con un omaggio a Lea Vergine)

October 30, 2021

“Corpus Domini” a cura di Francesca Alfano Miglietti, in scena a Palazzo Reale fino al 30 gennaio, …

Corriere della Sera | Palazzo Reale, apre al pubblico «Corpus domini»: riflessioni sul corpo di 34 artisti internazionali

October 27, 2021

Da Boltanski a Carol Rama, da Chen Zen a Duane Hanson. La crisi dell’esperienza sensoriale e l’appiattimento …

Art She Says | Our Favorite Women at Frieze LA

February 14, 2020

A roaring second time for Frieze at its new edition in Los Angeles, which closed with successful sales …

Forbes | The most important phenomena of the art market in the last 10 years

January 3, 2020

2016: The phenomenon of female art breaks out. Among the Italian artists, Carol Rama stands out.

Photog Story | DIANE ARBUS 捕捉社會邊緣人

November 11, 2019

由妮歌潔曼主演的電影《皮相獵影》(Fur,2007),大概令許多人認識Diane Arbus(1923-1971)這位美國女攝影師,電影中的角色性格古怪,現實中的她亦大概如此。原本她拍攝侏儒、變性人等題材已引起很大爭議,盛名時期突然自殺,更為其傳奇一生增添神秘色彩。

HK Lifestyle | 【顯影】《皮相獵影》女主角原型 捕捉邊緣人悲喜 - 顯影

November 11, 2019

由妮歌潔曼主演的電影《皮相獵影》(Fur,2007),大概令許多人認識Diane Arbus(1923-1971)這位美國女攝影師,電影中的角色性格古怪,現實中的她亦大概如此。原本她拍攝侏儒、變性人等題材已引起很大爭議,盛名時期突然自殺,更為其傳奇一生增添神秘色彩。

Art News | 15 Surprising Works at the New MoMA, from Early Net Art to a Full-Scale Kitchen

October 18, 2019

The rehang is all about quietly shocking its audience, placing a Faith Ringgold near a Picasso masterwork, …

Art Forum | 画廊动态:白立方、厉为阁、卓纳、König Galerie、佩斯等

October 10, 2019

厉为阁画廊(Lévy Gorvy)宣布将在全球代理中国艺术家屠洪涛。

Galleries Now |

October 10, 2019

Spanning the gallery’s entire ground-floor space in the historic St. George’s Building, a selection …

The New York Times | What to See in New York Art Galleries This Week

February 12, 2019

For many people, including me, the New Museum’s 2017 exhibition of the work of Carol Rama — her first …

Artribune | Eye of Eyes, a New York la galleria Lévy Gorvy dedica una mostra all’artista italiana Carol Rama

February 5, 2019

È dedicata all’artista torinese la mostra attualmente in corso alla galleria Lévy Gorvy nella Grande …

Il Giornale dell'Arte | Carol Rama prende la scena a New York

January 24, 2019

Nella settimana del Martin Luther King Day, in cui a pochi blocchi di distanza inaugura Lucio Fontana …

Widewalls | At Levy Gorvy, Carol Rama and Her Beloved Turin

January 24, 2019

The art history is apparently saturated with really talented artists whose practices were not properly …

Blouin Artinfo | “Carol Rama: Eye of Eyes” at Lévy Gorvy, New York

January 18, 2019

Levy Gorvy will be exhibiting “Carol Rama: Eye of Eyes” at its New York venue from January 24 through …

Artsy | What Sold at EXPO Chicago

September 17, 2017

Lévy Gorvy was another international gallery with a first-time presence at EXPO Chicago, lured, again, …

Blouin Artinfo | Works by important Italian Postwar Avant-Garde artists at Lévy Gorvy New York

July 26, 2017

Works by artists like Alighiero Boetti, Alberto Burri, Enrico Castellani, Jannis Kounellis, Piero Manzoni, Giulio …

Financial Times | A tormented, original talent: Carol Rama in Venice

July 5, 2017

Right now, Rama is having a moment. Given that the Turin-born artist died at the age of 97 in 2015 after …

Financial Times | Carol Rama — her dark materials

June 30, 2017

After a life spent largely in obscurity, the provocative Italian painter is given a posthumous show at …

Judith Benhamou-Huet | Carol Rama: a red-hot market for an artist who swapped her paintings for groceries

June 12, 2017

Overlooked during her lifetime, Carol Rama is enjoying a spectacular success two years after she died …

Art and Antiques | Carol Rama: Outside the Institution

May 30, 2017

That the largely underappreciated Italian artist Carol Rama’s work has recently gained a wider audience …

Hyperallergic | Carol Rama’s Resistant Desire

May 25, 2017

A survey of Rama’s work at the New Museum shows an almost manic motion between ideas and styles — …

Monopol | Collateral Events

May 12, 2017

Schon Ende der 30er-Jahre schockte Carol Rama (1918-2015) das Publikum mit surreal-erotischen Aquarellen.

The New York Times | The Psychosexual World of Carol Rama Still Shocks

May 11, 2017

“If I really am so good,” said the fearless and licentious Italian artist Carol Rama in 1983, “then …

Donne Cultura | Arte Al Femminile A Venezia E New York – Carol Rama: Antibodies – Spazio Anche Più Che Tempo

May 10, 2017

Spazio anche più che tempo; monografica promossa dall’Archivio che porta il nome di Carol Rama; artista …

The Lo-Down | New Museum Opens Spring Solo Exhibitions

May 9, 2017

Three solo shows debut today at the New Museum, alongside the large scale survey, “Carol Rama: Antibodies,” …

Artnet | Carol Rama: Antibodies

May 9, 2017

While Rama has been largely overlooked in contemporary art discourses, her work has proven prescient …

ArtDaily | New Museum opens the first New York museum survey of the work of Italian artist Carol Rama

May 9, 2017

While Rama has been largely overlooked in contemporary art discourses, her work has proven prescient …

The Lo-Down | Things to Do on the Lower East Side This Week

May 9, 2017

The New Museum kicks off its spring exhibitions with the first New York museum survey devoted to artist …

Arttribune | Carol Rama – Spazio anche più che tempo

May 8, 2017

Beginning May 8, 2017, the Archivio Carol Rama is proud to present the first Venice exhibition in a decade …

Vogue | Oltre Rama

May 8, 2017

Orfana della sua iconica artefice, scomparsa a 97 anni nel 2015, l’opera di Carol Rama si appresta …

Frieze | Critic's Guide: Venice

May 8, 2017

'Space even more than time' marks Carol Rama's return to Venice after a decade’s absence, and coincides …

Artnet | 15 Satellite Shows You Need to See During The Venice Biennale

May 5, 2017

Carol Rama breaking a decade-long absence from Venice in an exhibition at Ca’ nova, and Philip Guston …

Frieze | Critic’s Guide: New York

May 2, 2017

but so many of these artists, regardless of age or national origin, take inspiration from Carol Rama. …

the Huffington Post | Today’s Feminist Horror Owes A Lot To This Overlooked 20th-Century Artist

April 28, 2017

When Carol Rama was 12 years old, her father committed suicide. Three years later, her mother was committed …

Whitewaller | Whitewaller Venice 2017

April 20, 2017

Carol Rama’s iconoclastic practice holds a singular place in the history of twentieth-century art. …

Artsy | New MoMA Show Unearths Female Abstractionists That Have Languished in Storage

April 17, 2017

Museum of Modern Art curators Sarah Meister and Starr Figura weren’t explicitly tasked with curating …

The New York Times | Women at Play in the Fields of Abstraction

April 13, 2017

Funnily enough, the Museum of Modern Art has never named the long-running blockbuster show that fills …

My Art Guides | Carol Rama: Spazio Anche Più Che Tempo

April 1, 2017

On the occasion of the opening of the 57th Edition of La Biennale di Venezia, Archivio Carol Rama presents …

Frieze Week | Carol Rama

April 1, 2017

The late Carol Rama was a self-taught artist with a fearless streak...

Arttribune | La primavera di Carol Rama: una mostra durante la Biennale e poi al New Museum di New York

March 8, 2017

In concomitanza con l’imminente Biennale d’Arte, Venezia ospiterà un imperdibile omaggio a Carol …

Artnet | A Major Show Dedicated to Carol Rama Will Open During Venice Biennale

February 23, 2017

The presentation coincides with the largest exhibition of her work in the U.S. at the New Museum.

Artnews | First Carol Rama Show in Venice in a Decade to Be Staged During Biennale

February 23, 2017

Alongside the Venice Biennale this year will be the first Carol Rama show in the Italian city since 2006.

W Magazine | The Renaissance of Marisa Merz, Carol Rama, and Carla Accardi: Three Italian Women Artists Having a Moment

February 10, 2017

Carol Rama, who died a year ago at 97, is receiving her largest Stateside survey to date, at the New …

Artsy | New Fairs and Blue Chip Dealers Descend on San Francisco to End Debate Over City’s Art Market

January 10, 2017

Lévy says she was compelled to participate in the fair after “witnessing the energy and the support …

Artforum | Carol Rama

November 1, 2016

Tongues, serpents, penises, orifices, and eyes populate the wonderful and terrifying world of Carol Rama's …

Artribune | Carol Rama? I'll handle that. The American gallery Dominique Lévy represent the artist internationally

September 18, 2016

What happens if the Italian art market is not strong enough and structured to support the best artists …

The New York Times | Decades of Rama

September 15, 2016

The Italian artist Carol Rama’s subversive, sexually explicit body of work included a painting of a …

Dominique Lévy | Dominique Levy to Represent Carol Rama

September 15, 2016

Dominique Lévy is pleased to announce the gallery’s exclusive collaboration with the Archivio Carol …

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