Domenico Gnoli: Detail of a Detail
Luxembourg & Dayan, New York
May 3 - July 18, 2018
Domenico Gnoli: Detail of a Detail (2018) was a solo exhibition of the Italian artist at Luxembourg & Dayan. Internationally admired theater and opera director Robert Carsen, who has cited Gnoli’s work among his inspirations, created the installation design for the exhibition.
Domenico Gnoli died in 1970 at the age of 36, months after his enthusiastically received first exhibition at Sidney Janis Gallery, New York, leaving behind an arresting, mysterious oeuvre comprising paintings, drawings, prints, and theatrical set designs. He developed his signature approach in the decade leading up to his New York debut and introduced a fully formed vision in his inaugural exhibition. Melding precise attention to detail with an interest in the tokens of identity circulating among a growing postwar bourgeoisie in Italy, Gnoli’s paintings reveal an idiosyncratic eye and cinematic sensibility. The minutiae of everyday existence—such as the arch of a high heel shoe, the stripe of a shirt, the curl of a lock of hair, the wrinkle of a patterned bedspread—are offered up at monumental scale with technical precision, using a mixture of paint and sand that recalls the techniques of early Renaissance masters and imparts a distinctive materiality.
In their graphic rendering, bold compositions, and fascination with personal appearance, Gnoli’s paintings of the 1960s resonate with Pop Art’s critical embrace of façade and style. But an uncanny sense of witnessing, of confronting a moment poised on the verge of drama and loss, pervades these works, of which only several dozen exist today. Similar to contemporary snapshots, Gnoli’s paintings use the boundaries of the canvas to isolate moments of daily life. While image culture demands speed, Gnoli’s art suggests a slow, poetic, and ultimately mysterious gaze in which the commonplace acquires a new dimension.