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Aspen Art Museum


Gaetano Pesce: My Dear Mountains

May 27, 2022-Oct 16, 2022

The Aspen Art Museum presents My Dear Mountains, a new exhibition by Gaetano Pesce, one of the world’s most influential living multidisciplinary artists and creative minds, celebrated worldwide for his provocative and experimental pursuit of material, technological and social innovation. Driven by risk-taking curiosity and radical thinking, Pesce’s work is renowned for blurring boundaries between art, design, and architecture.

Supported by the Italian Council (9th Edition, 2020) – a program of the Directorate-General for Contemporary Creativity of the Italian Ministry of Culture to promote Italian contemporary art in the world – Gaetano Pesce’s new project was conceived especially for the Aspen Art Museum and features a monumental site-specific installation covering the whole façade of the museum with an iconic figurative image of the sun setting over a mountain landscape. This ambitious outdoor intervention on the building—the artist’s first-ever project for a façade—is accompanied by a display of his furniture, drawings, and sculptures within the museum’s ground floor gallery.

Pesce’s career spans over fifty years and nearly every medium, moving fluidly and playfully across categorical definitions of objecthood. Making a virtue of incoherence, over the years Pesce has remained independent from the sectors of mass-industrial production and commercial distribution, prioritizing his stance as an artist and intellectual. He is interested in introducing cultural values that foster diversity and plurality rather than pleasing market trends and demands. His designs stand out for their figurative and often organic qualities, which disrupt and challenge the uniform aesthetic of many contemporary buildings and products across the globe.

Pesce’s motto is that architecture should be a distinctive portrait of those who inhabit it. Very much in this spirit, My Dear Mountains responds to the existing architectural features of the Aspen Art Museum by introducing a symbolic—almost naïve—view of mountains to take over the whole architectural façade and allow the building to declare its situated identity from the surface. Realized as a three-dimensional structure from a figurative landscape drawing by Pesce, this monumental new intervention binds the exterior of the museum to its iconic surroundings and celebrates the natural features for which Aspen is known.

The artist states: ‘First of all, I would like to thank the Aspen Community for hosting my work. Then my heartfelt thanks go to the Aspen Art Museum who found a way to create a sincere and innovative exhibition. With this preamble, I would like to introduce my outdoor installation. I have believed for a long time that Architecture ought to be an Art that respects and represents the place where it is erected. The legacy of International Style continues to exist, producing buildings that at this point belong exclusively to the decorative aspect of things and avoid documenting the reality they inhabit, its identity, geographical location, etc. In other words, many constructions which we call architecture belong instead do the category of edilizia (“building”). This is because the Art of Constructing has lost touch with the diverse realities of the world, and most architects give greater importance to the pursuit of an aesthetic and fashionable image with their projects. Coming now to the project for the Aspen Art Museum, I found that its facades made from abstract grids were by no means representative of the magnificent and original nature of this urban site. So, at risk of achieving a kitschy image, I opted for a project that would cover the facades I criticize, replacing them with a view which is close to the one I admired during the many, memorable periods I spent in Aspen – the first city I visited in the United States in 1971, and where I had the pleasure to return over the years.’ (Gaetano Pesce, September 2021)

My Dear Mountains includes a display of Pesce’s furniture, sculptures, drawings, and objects spanning over fifty years of production and experimentation in different techniques and mediums—from the iconic Yeti armchair drawing (1968) to a new series of Leaf Cabinets (2022) and My Mountains vases (2022), realized specially for the Aspen Art Museum and exhibited with unique flower arrangements by Eliza Ryan. Working primarily with polyurethane resin, Pesce’s designs exuberantly embrace figuration and color, challenging the physical properties of materials and valuing the aesthetic outcomes of imperfect gestures over rigorous standards. His works seek to give form to what he calls “the liquidity of our time”—a time whose nature is defined by continuous change, curiosity, uncertainty, and innovation. These principles are reflected and find expression in the use of fluid materials that allow the artist to pursue objects that, in his words, are sincere and truthful to their epoch.

Born in La Spezia, Italy, in 1939, Gaetano Pesce studied Architecture at the University of Venice between 1958 to 1963 and was a participant in Gruppo N, an early collective concerned with programmed art patterned after the Bauhaus. He taught architecture at the Institut d’Architecture et d’Etudes Urbaines in Strasbourg, France for 28 years; Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh; Domus Academy in Milan; Polytechnic of Hong Kong; Architectural School of Sao Paulo; and the Cooper Union in New York City, where he has lived and worked since 1980. Pesce’s work can be found in the permanent collections of over 30 national and international museums including the Museum of Modern Art in both New York and San Francisco; Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York; Vitra Museum in Germany; Pompidou Center and Musee des Arts Décoratifs of Louvre in Paris; and Victoria and Albert Museum in London. His award-winning designs include the prestigious Chrysler Award for Innovation and Design in 1993, the Architektur and Wohnen Designer of the Year in 2006, and the Lawrence J. Israel Prize from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York in 2009. Gaetano Pesce is represented by Salon 94 Design.

Curated by Stella Bottai, AAM Curator at Large

On My Dear Mountains with Gaetano Pesce, Glenn Adamson, Jenna Fletcher, and Stella Bottai

Exhibition Guide

Gaetano Pesce: My Dear Mountains

Flower arrangements by Eliza Ryan

The organization of My Dear Mountains is supported by Salon 94 Design.

AAM exhibitions are made possible by the Marx Exhibition Fund. General exhibition support is provided by the Toby Devan Lewis Visiting Artist Fund. Additional support is provided by the AAM National Council.

Project supported by