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The art of being Lea Vergine

One of the key figures on the Italian art scene has passed away. Animated by a very strong vital fury, a staunch supporter of female art

By Francesca Parravicini

“It is useless for the viewer to look for something in the vision of a work of art to comfort him. It will only find something that will tear it apart. It will be up to him to decide how to use it.
You don't go to see Botticelli or Mantegna to have joy, peace and serenity”

The words of Lea Vergine, the famous art curator, are like lightning bolts on paper. It seems that her personality can shine through these few lines: one of those women who have crossed the avant-garde, who have experienced the ferment of years in which culture was explosive and have transported this spark in our contemporary age, combined with a good dose of nonconformity and allergy to the narrow confines of society.

This incredible woman died on October 20th at the age of 82 due to complications from Covid-19, one day after her husband, the award-winning designer Enzo Mari, with whom she shared a partnership of love and culture. A long life in search of wonder and beauty.

“Art is not necessary. It is the superfluous. And what we need to be a little happy or less unhappy is the superfluous. He cannot use it, art, in life. Art and life yes, in the sense that you dedicate yourself to that thing, but it's not that art can help you. It constitutes a refuge, a defense. In this sense it is like a benzodiazepine”

Lea Vergine, aka Lea Buoncristiano, was born on March 5 th 1936 in Naples. Her whole life seems imprinted in an unconventional footprint: bourgeois father, mother foreign to that world, she is conceived out of marriage, which her parents are then forced to, to save appearances, but they end up detesting each other and living separated in the same palace, Lea with her father and grandparents, the mother with the youngest children, who will then die. Lea is a hybrid creature, a cultur of femininity, who at first sees in a complex and contradictory relationship with her mother, endowed with a “stunned gaze” on her father's life and consumed by a pain like a “maceration of the soul”.

 
 
 
 
 
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#carolrama #art #artist #leavergine #exhibiton #blackandwhite #comtemporaryart #artsty #postwarart #turin #italianart #womaninart

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Her artistic career exploded in the 60s when he moved to Milan, where she found himself at the center of a rich cultural environment with dizzying prospects. She has been a critic, curator of exhibitions, essayist, collaborator for newspapers such as Il Corriere della Sera and Il Manifesto.

Her seminal work is the book Body art and similar stories, The body as language, the first Italian work to analyze the phenomenon of Body Art, a current that sees the use of the body as a means to make art. Through personal reflections and the analysis of the works of over 60 artists, she creates a research and analysis text that will have great success and will influence subsequent currents of thought.

Her eye is projected towards contemporary art, which behind an apparent simplicity, an “ugliness”, an absence of rules, hides hidden and precious meanings, for those who know how to look for them.

The feminine is an essential element in the universe of Lea Vergine. The gaze of the woman, historically subordinate, contains something subversive, a “marginalization” worthy of being valued. This is why she has always tried to exalt and highlight the works of the artists: it is impossible not to mention the exhibition The other half of the avant-garde (1910-1940), organized in 1980 at the Palazzo Reale in Milan, dedicated to the works of painters and sculptors in the groups of the avant-gardes.

 
 
 
 
 
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Enzo Mari e Lea Vergine - Immortali Un tributo a due icone che hanno dedicato le loro vite allo studio, alla ricerca, al design e all'arte con approccio filosofico e mai convenzionale. #enzomari #leavergine

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An acute figure, attentive to changes in society, observer of people and personalities, a lover of writing and the power of the word, she lashed out energetically against sexism (in the 1960s she sued a journalist who supported an art conference that the public came only to see her legs, not to hear her) and throughout her life she went in search of a difficult, tragic hidden beauty, of the beauty of art that as she provocatively said “is not a matter for people to well”.