Pinot Gallizio

Industrial Painting

1958

On display at Tate Modern

Artist
Pinot Gallizio 1902–1964
Medium
Monoprinted oil and acrylic paint and typographic ink on canvas
Dimensions
Overall display dimensions variable
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Purchased with funds provided by Tate International Council 2015
Reference
T14249

Summary

Industrial Painting 1958 is a seventy-four metre long painted canvas by the Italian artist Pinot Gallizio. The work is abstract with gestural marks and pools of saturated colours: predominantly bright pink, yellow, light blue, light green and black. The canvas is rolled up around a wooden spool and can be unfurled for display to a minimum of ten metres. It was made using a ‘painting machine’, which extended the process of painting from the hand of the artist to a series of mechanical rollers that opened up the possibility of creating excessively long works. Gallizio made a series of works in this format after experimenting with new techniques in his ‘laboratory’ in Alba, Italy, in 1956. Industrial Painting is the largest and the second painting of this kind that he made: the first, at nine metres long, dates from 1957. Industrial Painting 1958 was made just prior to Cavern of Anti-Matter 1959, Gallizio’s other major work.

Gallizio began making art after working as a chemist and this experience informed his artistic experiments. The art historian Frances Stracey has described how ‘In this collapse of the division of labour between artist and scientist, Gallizio emerged as a sort of modern-day alchemist’ (Stracey 2005, p.397). Industrial Painting utilised the artist’s scientific knowledge alongside technology associated with mass production to create something that was, in contrast to the usual application of these processes, chaotic and entirely unique. In addition to the painting machines – long drafting tables with mechanised rollers – Gallizio had numerous collaborators including other artists and children. Through this process of peinture d’ensemble (group painting), which involved the collaborators applying the paint with particular gestures prescribed by Gallizio, the artist’s studio took on the character of a factory as well as a laboratory. Despite mimicking other forms of work, Gallizio understood the industrial paintings as a way for art and painting specifically to ‘liberate antieconomic energies’ for a future age (Pinot Gallizio, ‘Manifesto of Industrial Painting: For a Unitary Applied Art’, trans. by Mollie Klein, August 1959, http://www.notbored.org/gallizio.html, accessed 7 June 2016). Following this alternative mode of production, Gallizio’s paintings were sold by the metre in the street market of Alba as well as in commercial art galleries.

In 1956 Gallizio, along with the Danish painter Asger Jorn, organised the First World Congress o Free Artists. This event that was instrumental in the founding, in 1957, of the Situationist International, an international group of social activists interested in critiquing the alienating effects of modern life. Gallizio left the Situationist International in 1960 as it became focused on political, rather than artistic, action.

Industrial Painting was included in the exhibition On the passage of a few people through a rather brief moment in time: The Situationism International 1957–1972 at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, in 1989–90, which also travelled to the Centre Pompidou, Paris, and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston. It has also been shown in exhibitions at the Tinguely Museum, Basel (2007), the Sydney Biennial (2008) and the Museo Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid (2010).

Further reading
Paul Schimmel, Out of Actions: Between the Action and the Object, exhibition catalogue, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles 1998.
Maria Teresa Roberto, Pinot Gallizio: Catalogo generale delle opere 1953–1964, Milan 2001.
Frances Stracey, ‘Pinot Gallizio’s “Industrial Painting”: Towards a Surplus Life’, Oxford Art Journal, vol.28, no.3, October 2005, pp.391–405.

Catherine Wood
March 2012

Display caption

Pinot Gallizio was an early member of the Situationist International, an avant-garde group that attempted to analyse and subvert the capitalist commodification of daily life. Gallizio’s ‘industrial painting’ adapted mechanised manufacturing techniques to challenge established models for the production and distribution of art. The paint was applied onto long rolls of canvas by a team of assistants using a low-tech ‘painting machine’, so that the result was mass-produced but also unique. Gallizio would then cut off sections to be sold.

Gallery label, May 2013

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