MOCA presents Cinema Vezzoli, an exhibition highlighting artist Francesco Vezzoli‘s (b. 1971, Brescia, Italy) mastery in deconstructing the vocabulary of filmmaking and in analyzing how celebrity-driven culture influences art and the public imagination. Rife with art-historical and autobiographical references and showcasing the artist’s love of embroidery, classic European cinema, and Hollywood stardom, Vezzoli’s works explore the modern-day obsession with celebrity.
In a series of portraits of movie icons in star-shaped frames, reminiscent of the stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, long streams of embroidered tears emanate from the eyes of Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. A gallery dedicated to Italian filmmaker Luchino Visconti, an influential figure in Vezzoli’s oeuvre, displays teary-eyed portraits of actors from the director’s celebrated films Senso (1954) and Death in Venice (1971). The sorrow portrayed in these works represents life’s intrinsic drama, existing regardless of wealth or fame.
Vezzoli’s faux movie posters substitute lead actors from the original films with art-world figures. In this fictional world, German American textile artist Anni Albers replaces Dutch actress Sylvia Kristel as Emmanuelle in the 1974 French erotic feature with the same name. In All About Anni–Anni vs. Marlene (The Saga Begins) (2006), Albers is paired with the iconic actress Marlene Dietrich in an imagined story of rivalry between two strong and talented women. Sex, art, and movies coalesce frequently and dramatically in Vezzoli’s intense fixation with stardom.
At the core of the exhibition is a theater-like space sharing the exhibition’s title, Cinema Vezzoli. The selection of videos screened here feature well-known contemporary actors Marisa Berenson, Milla Jovovich, Eva Mendes, Helen Mirren, Natalie Portman, and Michelle Williams. Upon exiting the theater, visitors are presented with a large tapestry depicting the opening credits from Sono come tu mi vuoi (As You Desire Me, 2007), a film starring legendary Swedish American actress Greta Garbo. Vezzoli’s fascination with larger-than-life personalities comes full circle with the inclusion of Portrait of Sophia Loren as the Muse of Antiquity (After Giorgio de Chirico) (2011), installed in the museum’s courtyard.
Organized by MOCA Senior Curator Alma Ruiz, Cinema Vezzoli is part of The Trinity, a three-part series also presented at the National Museum of XXI Century Arts (MAXXI) in Rome and MoMA PS1 in New York.
APRIL 27–AUGUST 11, 2014
IMAGE: Francesco Vezzoli, Michelle Williams & Natalie Portman in GREED, The New Fragrance by Francesco Vezzoli, 2009, video, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, gift of the artist, photo by Guy Ferrandis, courtesy of the artist.