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La caduta di Icaro, 1981

GPO-0464

The Fall of Icarus

Collage on primed canvas, ink on reversed canvas, ceremony suit, plexiglas plinths, chairs

One canvas 100 x 150 cm (Jupiter), one canvas 80 x 120 cm (Saturn), two canvases 60 x 90 cm each (Uranus, Neptune), four canvases 40 x 60 cm each (Earth, Pluto, Mars, Venus), one canvas 20 x 30 cm (Mercury), nine plinths 35 x 100 x 100 cm each, overall dimensions variable

Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven

Acquired in 1986, inventory no. 1452

The plinths – transparent so as make the overall image lighter – should be arranged to form an orthogonal area, in parallel with the sides of the room (3 x 3 units).
The chairs are arranged so that they turn in different directions; the chair type (sitting room) is related to the context of a theatrical "conversation scene", in which the protagonists (the chairs) witness the irremediable fall of Icarus.
The hanging canvases should be arranged so that they more or less correspond to the chairs beneath them.

1982, Milan, Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea: the plinths with the chairs – and therefore the canvases – were arranged irregularly and in a dispersive manner around the whole exhibition area.
1982, Kassel, Museum Fridericianum: the closer, more regular installation, with the chairs arranged to form an orthogonal area, in parallel with the sides of the room (3 x 3 units) determined the official display of the work.

“The work consists of nine canvases, each of which distinguished by the conventional symbols used for the nine planets in the solar system. The size and location of each one refer to the position that each planet occupies in space. The character (Icarus) who occupies this ‘conversation piece’, in his attempt to touch Venus, falls down onto the canvas on the floor (Earth), the only one of the planets whose symbol coincides with the image it represents”.1
The canvases of various sizes corresponding to the planets Pluto, Neptune, Uranus, Saturn, Jupiter, Mars and Mercury – whose symbols are drawn in ink on the verso – hang from the ceiling on nylon threads, at various heights, and hold some of the items of the ceremonial attire (shirt, collar, neck-tie, cuffs, waistcoat, trousers, tail-coat, scarf). The canvas attributed to Venus is instead set on a plexiglas base close to the canvas associated with the Earth, which lies face down on the ground, half-hidden by the tail-coat, beneath the central plinth. The primed canvas corresponding to Venus also bears a collage, in one corner, of the fragment of a drawing, which portrays a hand as it attempts to hold down a sheet of paper. The protagonist’s “fall” – a stand-in for the author, represented by the ceremonial attire – is also emphasized by the overturned chair on the base in the middle. Eight other chairs turned in different directions are arranged all around it on the same number of plexiglas bases.
This scene inspired by Dedalus’s proud son – who flew so close to the sun that the wax of his wings melted and he fell into the sea – evokes in an overtly theatrical and metaphorical key, the theme of the artificer victim of his visionary dream of “touching” the absolute of the work, evoked by the cosmic dimension of the planets. The random ranks of the seating area mark the material dimension which opposes the perspective oriented towards the ineffable perfection of planetary equilibrium.

1 G. Paolini in Giulio Paolini. La caduta di Icaro, exhibition catalogue, Milan, Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea, 1982, n. pag.

1982 Milan, Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea, Giulio Paolini. La caduta di Icaro, 13 January - 21 February, not repr. (illustrations of a preliminary installation in the artist’s studio, different from the final formulation).
1982 Kassel, Museum Fridericianum, Documenta 7, 19 June - 27 September, vol. 2, not repr. (reproduction of a preliminary installation in the artist’s studio).
1984 Turin, Mole Antonelliana, Coerenza in coerenza. Dall’Arte Povera al 1984, 12 June - 14 October, col. repr. p. 92 (exhibition view Kassel 1982).
1985 Madrid, Palacio de Cristal, Del Arte Povera a 1985, 24 January - 7 April, cited in the checklist of exhibited works p. 208, col. repr. no. 101 p. 115 (exhibition view Turin 1984).
1986 Stuttgart, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, Giulio Paolini, 20 September - 2 November, cited in the checklist of exhibited works vol. 4 no. 33 p. 52, col. repr. vol. 4 p. 36 (exhibition view Kassel 1982) and on back cover (exhibition view), referred to in the text by G. Inboden vol. 1 pp. 23-24.
1987 Acquoy, Fort Asperen, Beelden en banieren, 27 June - 2 August, col. repr. n. pag. (exhibition view, incorrect installation of the upside down chair, and incorrect location of Venus).
1988 Gerusalemme, The Israel Museum, Van Abbe Museum Collection Eindhoven, 5 April - 16 June, cited in the checklist of exhibited works, not repr.
1994 Eindhoven, Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum, De Verzameling, 22 October - 31 December, repr. in the exhibition brochure (incorrect installation of the hanging canvases, and incorrect location of Venus).
1997 Eindhoven, Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum, Sleeping Beauty, 27 September - 23 November, no catalogue.
1999 Eindhoven, Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum, De Verzameling II: Werken uit de beleidsperiode van Rudi Fuchs, 26 June - 22 August, no catalogue.
2004 Eindhoven, Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum, Een op Een / One to One, 13 March - 12 September, no catalogue.
G. Paolini in Giulio Paolini, vol. Images/Index (Villeurbanne: Le Nouveau Musée, 1984), p. 102.
G. Paolini in Giulio Paolini, exhibition catalogue, Milan, Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea, 1982, n. pag.; republished in Giulio Paolini, vol. Images/Index, op. cit. (Villeurbanne: 1984), p. 104.
G. Paolini in the interview with H.U. Obrist, in Giulio Paolini. Eiserner Vorhang 2002/2003 (Vienna: Museum in Progress, 2002), n. pag.
G. Paolini in the interview with A. Bellini, “Giulio Paolini. A Normal Life”, in Flash Art 40, no. 225 (Milan, international edition), July-September, 2007, p. 119; part of the text republished in G. Paolini, Per un verso o per l’altro. E altro ancora, vol. E altro ancora (Brescia: Edizioni L’Obliquo, 2007), p. 25; Flash Art 42, no. 275 (Milan, Italian edition), April-May, 2009, p. 68.
G. Paolini in the interview with M. Meneguzzo, in Avvenire (Rome), 3 September 2010, p. 24.
G. Paolini, “L’autore che credeva di esistere (sipario: buio in sala)”, in Giulio Paolini, exhibition catalogue, Rome, MACRO Museo d'Arte Contemporanea Roma and London, Whitechapel Gallery (Rome: Quodlibet Edizioni, 2014), p. 32.
Spelt from Sibyl’s Leaves. Explorations in Italian Art, exhibition catalogue, Sydney, Power Gallery, University of Sydney (Milan: Electa, 1982), repr. p. 68 (reproduction of a preliminary installation in the artist’s studio).
B. Brock, Besucherschule Documenta 7 (Kassel: 1982), pp. 98-99, repr. (exhibition view Kassel 1982).
Thoughts and Action. Joseph Beuys, Daniel Buren, Dan Graham, Bruce MacLean, Giulio Paolini, exhibition catalogue, Tokyo, The Japan Foundation, The Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, The Laforet Museum (Tokyo: Flex Co. Ltd, 1982), repr. p. 116 (exhibition view Kassel 1982).
S. Isler, Del bello intelligibile. Semiotische Analyse zu sechs Werken von Giulio Paolini, PhD dissertation (Zurich: Philosophische Fakultät I der Universität Zürich, 1983), pp. 245-261, not repr.
Giulio Paolini, vol. Images/Index, op. cit. (Villeurbanne: 1984), repr. pp. 104 (reproduction of a preliminary installation in the artist’s studio), 105 (exhibition view Kassel 1982).
F. Poli, in Giulio Paolini, exhibition catalogue, Milan, Studio Marconi, 1984, n. pag., not repr.; republished as “L’io dell’artista, l’io della pittura”, in Id., Giulio Paolini (Turin: Lindau, 1990), pp. 17-18.
Der Traum des Orpheus. Mythologie in der italienischen Gegenwartskunst 1967 bis 1984, exhibition catalogue, Munich, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, 1984, repr. p. 77 (exhibition view Kassel 1982).
L’intelligenza dell’effetto: la messa in scena dell’opera d’arte, exhibition catalogue, Milan, Palazzo Dugnani (Florence: Alinea Editrice, 1985), repr. n. pag. (exhibition view Milan 1982).
Giulio Paolini. “Tutto qui”, exhibition catalogue, Ravenna, Pinacoteca Comunale, Loggetta Lombardesca (Ravenna: Agenzia Editoriale Essegi, 1985), repr. no. 34 (exhibition view Kassel 1982).
Ooghoogte. Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum 1936-1986, vol. 2 (Eindhoven: Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum, 1986), pp. 490-491, repr. p. 491 (reproduction of a preliminary installation in the artist’s studio).
Sonsbeek 86. International Sculpture Exhibition, exhibition catalogue, Arnhem (Utrecht: Veen-Reflex, 1986), vol. 1, repr. pp. 230-231 (exhibition view Kassel 1982).
G. Paolini, Suspense. Breve storia del vuoto in tredici stanze (Florence: Hopeful Monster editore, 1988), repr. p. 207 (exhibition view Kassel 1982).
B. Corà, “Giulio Paolini: ‘Signore e Signori…’”, in Giulio Paolini. Signore e Signori. Un’opera di Giulio Paolini al Museo di Capodimonte, exhibition catalogue, Naples, Museo di Capodimonte (Naples: Electa, 1988), p. 14, repr. p. 15 (exhibition view Kassel 1982).
Collection du Van Abbe Museum d’Eindhoven, exhibition catalogue, Nîmes, Carré d’art Musée d’art contemporain, 1988, repr. p. 137 (reproduction of a preliminary installation in the artist’s studio).
A. Minnaar, H. Postma, H. Klute, “Internationale Parade in de Nederlandse Piste”, in Kunstschrift 32, no. 6 (Amsterdam), November-December, 1988, p. 193, repr. p. 197 (installation view at Vanabbemuseum, Eindhoven, with incorrect location of Venus).
Il Padiglione d’arte contemporanea di Milano. PAC 1979-1989, edited by Z. Birolli (Milan: Gabriele Mazzotta Editore, 1989), repr. p. 53 (reproduction of a preliminary installation in the artist’s studio).
F. Poli, Giulio Paolini, op. cit. (Turin: 1990), pp. 17-18 (part I: L’io dell’artista, l’io della pittura), 29 (part II: Note di lettura, republished in Giulio Paolini. Von heute bis gestern / Da oggi a ieri, exhibition catalogue, Graz, Neue Galerie im Landesmuseum Joanneum [Ostfildern-Ruit: Cantz Verlag, 1998], p. 47), repr. no. 103 (exhibition view Turin 1984).
E. van Uitert, M. Feil, “De werkplaats van Daedalus”, in Kunstschrift 37, no. 5 (Amsterdam), September-October, 1993, p. 46, col. repr. (installation view at Vanabbemuseum, Eindhoven, with incorrect location of Ve
M. Disch, “Giulio Paolini. Hors-d’oeuvre”, in Giulio Paolini. La voce del pittore – Scritti e interviste 1965-1995, edited by Id. (Lugano: ADV Publishing House, 1995), pp. 117-118, 123, repr. no. 33 (installation view at Vanabbemuseum, Eindhoven, with incorrect location of Venus).
Collection. Art moderne et contemporain au Van Abbemuseum Eindhoven, exhibition catalogue, Luxemburg, Musée National d'Histoire et d'Art (1995), col. repr. p. 3 (exhibition view Eindhoven 1992).
D. von Drathen, “Giulio Paolini. Der blinde Blick des Sehers”, in Künstler. Kritisches Lexikon der Gegenwartskunst 33, no. 7 (Munich: Weltkunst-Bruckmann Verlag, 1996), p. 10, repr. p. 8 (exhibition view Kassel 1982); republished in Id., Vortex of silence. Proposition for an art criticism beyond aesthetic categories (Milan: Edizioni Charta, 2004), pp. 228-229, not repr.
Giulio Paolini. Von heute bis gestern / Da oggi a ieri, op. cit. (Ostfildern-Ruit: 1998), col. repr. p. 264 (installation view at Vanabbemuseum, Eindhoven, with incorrect location of Venus).
C. Christov-Bakargiev, Arte Povera (London: Phaidon Press Limited, 1999), col. repr. p. 71 (exhibition view Madrid 1985).
N. Bätzner, Arte Povera. Zwischen Erinnerung und Ereignis: Giulio Paolini, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Jannis Kounellis (Nuremberg: Verlag für moderne Kunst, 2000), p. 63, repr. p. 62 (exhibition view Kassel 1982).
M. Steinhauser, “Latente Allegorisierung. Giorgio de Chirico und seine späten Adepten in Italien”, in Die andere Moderne. De Chirico Savinio, exhibition catalogue, Düsseldorf, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen (Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2001), pp. 163-164, repr. p. 164 (exhibition view Kassel 1982).
Van Abbemuseum. A Companion to Modern and Contemporary Art, edited by J. Debbaut and M. Verlust (Eindhoven: Van Abbemuseum, 2002), pp. 126-127, col. repr. p. 125 (installation view at Vanabbemuseum, Eindhoven, with incorrect location of Venus).
Giulio Paolini. L’ora X, exhibition catalogue, Venice, Fondazione Querini Stampalia (Prato: Gli Ori, 2004), repr. p. 76 (installation view at Vanabbemuseum, Eindhoven, with incorrect location of Venus).
B. Corà, “La dimensione dell’assenza”, in L’immagine del vuoto. Una linea di ricerca nell’arte in Italia 1958-2006, exhibition catalogue, Lugano, Museo Cantonale d’Arte (Milan: Skira editore, 2006), p. 60, not repr.
G. Paolini, Per un verso o per l’altro. E altro ancora, vol. E altro ancora (Brescia: Edizioni L’Obliquo, 2007), repr. p. 26 repr. no. 11 (installation view at Vanabbemuseum, Eindhoven, with incorrect location of Venus).
M. Disch, Giulio Paolini. Catalogo ragionato 1960-1999, vol. 1 (Milan: Skira editore, 2008), cat. no. 464 pp. 476-477, col. repr. (detail exhibition view Kassel 1982) and repr. (exhibition view Kassel 1982).
G. Bonomi, La disseminazione. Esplosione, frammentazione e dislocazione nell’arte contemporanea (Soveria Mannelli: Rubbettino Editore, 2009), pp. 113-114, not repr.
B. Schwabsky, “Giulio Paolini. Art at room temperature”, in Italia, auction catalogue, London, Phillips de Pury & Company, 30 June 2010, p. 37, repr. p. 39 (exhibition view Kassel 1982).
G. Celant, Arte Povera. Storia e storie (Milan: Mondadori Electa, 2011), repr. p. 110 (left image, exhibition view Turin 1984).
I. Bernardi, “Il giuoco delle parti”, in Giulio Paolini, exhibition catalogue, Rome, MACRO Museo d'Arte Contemporanea Roma and London, Whitechapel Gallery (Rome: Quodlibet Edizioni, 2014), p. 93, repr. p. 24 (exhibition view Kassel 1972).
G. Celant, + spazi. Le gallerie Toselli (Milan: Johan & Levi, 2019), col. repr. p. 452 (exhibition view Milan 1982).
S. Menichini, “’La caduta di Icaro’ di Giulio Paolini (1981). Uno studio iconografico”, in L’uomo nero. Materiali per una storia delle arti della modernità 17, n.s., no. 17-18, February (Milan - Udine: Mimesis Edizioni, 2021), pp. 162-181, repr. pp. 162, 164 (exhibition view Milan 1982), 165 (details).
P. Repetto, “Oltre il visibile”, in Giulio Paolini. O.D.E., exhibition catalogue, Monforte d’Alba (Cuneo), Castello di Perno (Alba: Fondazione Mancini Carini, 2022), p. 41, col. repr. p. 48 no. 17 (exhibition view Kassel 1982).
Entry by Maddalena Disch, 12/04/2024