CESARE TACCHI. A SHORT BIOGRAPHY

Cesare Tacchi, who was born in Rome in 1940, always claimed that his first major exhibition was an exhibition entitled "Mambor, Schifano, Tacchi", hosted by the Galleria Appia Antica in Rome in 1959.

After entering the "Premio San Fedele" competition in Milan in 1961, he met Plinio De Martiis, the founder and curator of the Galleria La Tartaruga in Rome in 1962, and in February 1963 De Martiis included his work in a collective exhibition entitled "13 Painters in Rome". In the exhibition catalogue Cesare Vivaldi, the most attentive critic of the time, asked the question: "Could we be witnessing the rise of a kind of 'mass realism', of an art that uses the resources of mass civilisation to lampoon that very society without mercy?" The cityscape was also the inspiration for the work that Tacchi showed at the Lombardo, Mambor, Tacchi collective exhibition held at La Tartaruga in 1963.

 

Cesare Tacchi held his first one-man exhibition in 1965, when La Tartaruga showed some of his picture objects designed to transcend the limitations of the canvas's two-dimensional surface and to breathe plastic life into the fabric on the stretcher frame. These were his "quilted" pictures, protruding canvases with built-in pieces of upholstery on which the artist painted figures in black enamel paint: portraits of friends, actors, images borrowed from advertising or magazines, armchairs, sofas and middle-class interiors. In these works Tacchi also revisited the art of the past, one of the first artists in the post-modern era to address the theme of citation. He was one of the leading players in Roman Pop Art and the so-called Piazza del Popolo School along with Tano Festa, Mario Schifano, Franco Angeli, Giosetta Fioroni, Jannis Kounellis, Pino Pascali, Sergio Lombardo, Renato Mambor and Mario Ceroli.

 

From 1966 to 1967, Tacchi's research switched direction, setting aside the dimension of traditional paintings and exploring objects, more often than not only to gainsay their function. Whence his impossible mobiles: sofas, armchairs, chairs, all of them unusable, like the armchairs displayed at the "Arte Povera e Im-Spazio" collective exhibition curated by Germano Celant for the Galleria La Bertesca in Genoa in 1967, and at the Festival dei Mondi in Spoleto in June of the same year.

 

With his performance entitled Cancellation of the Artist, presented at La Tartaruga in the course of the Teatro delle Mostre festival in May 1968, Tacchi chose action as his form of expression: behind a transparent sheet of glass, he gradually "cancelled" out his own image by applying a layer of paint to the diaphragm separating him from his audience.

He went on to develop nine actions such as (Cesare Tacchi + Mario Diacono) (On a Table) (On the Pedestal) (At the Wall) and The Ritual, both presented at the Incontri Internazionali d'Arte in the festival curated by Achille Bonito Oliva in 1972 or at the Libreria Arcana in response to an invitation from Mario Diacono.

 

He held numerous exhibitions, including one-man exhibitions at the Galleria Mana Art Market in Rome in 1970 and at the Galleria Schema in Florence in 1972, as well as the "My Love" collective exhibition at Palazzo Ricci in Montepulciano in 1970. He showed a series of objects, expanding their function beyond all reasonable limits, at a collective exhibition entitled “The Vitality of the Negative in Italian Art 1960/70” curated by Achille Bonito Oliva at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Rome in 1970.

 

In photographer Elisabetta Catalano's studio in 1972 Tacchi performed the reverse process of Cancellation of the Artist,  cleaning a sheet of glass in order to allow his image gradually to reappear. Elisabetta Catalano recorded the action and Tacchi produced a photographic work entitled Painting using her images in ordered sequence. He took his inspiration from the last image in the sequence to produce a series of drawings that were to prompt him to rediscover painting as a means of artistic expression.

At a one-man exhibition at the Galleria La Tartaruga in 1975 he showed two large paintings, “Hearing…. If you paint close your eyes and sing” (Pablo Picasso) and Arms, along with other two-dimensional works on which he urged the public to intervene by leaving or erasing traces on a large plasticine panel and by putting pressure on a black elastic sheet to produce plastic images. In several subsequent exhibitions he explored different ways of forging relations between the artist, the work of art and its intended audience: Education in the Gallery, Galleria La Tartaruga, Rome 1977; The Triangle Introduces Itself to the Square Hole and In the Wind, both at the Galleria La Salita in Rome in 1979 and 1983 respectively.

 

With his work entitled On Painting in 1980, Tacchi set out down a path devoted entirely to surface values, taking their effects to the extreme and courageous consequences of adornment and decoration through a substantive selection of original motifs: the word, homophony between the Italian words "fogli" (sheets of paper) and "foglie" (leaves), mathematical and geometrical signs, and stylized figures. Among other events, one especially memorable one-man exhibition entitled "Word" was held at the Galleria La Nuova Pesa in Rome in 1993.

 

In 1995 the Museo Laboratorio di Arte Contemporanea at the Università degli Studi di Roma La Sapienza devoted an exhibition to him entitled “Sécrétaire” curated by Alessandro Masi.

 

In the course of the 1990s and 2000s his works were displayed at a number of one-man exhibitions and in the context of several historical retrospectives including "Rome in the '60s. Transcending Painting" curated by Maurizio Calvesi at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Rome in 1990 and “The 1970s. Art in Rome” curated by Daniela Lancioni at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Rome in 2013–14. Works by Cesare Tacchi were presented this year in the exhibitions entitled "Rome Pop City 60–67" curated by Claudio Crescentini, Costantino D'Orazio and Federica Pirani at the MACRO in Rome, and "Pop Italy. The Boom Years" curated by Walter Guadagnini and Stefano Roffi a the Fondazione Magnani Rocca in Mamiano di Traversetolo.

 

Cesare Tacchi died in Rome on 14 March 2014.