16 May-31 July 2005. In collaboration with the Salander OReilly Galleries, New York.
This is scandalous: a group of beautiful paintings are massed together in a most inadequate space without any airiness or dignity. De Niro the Elders glowing works have been hung in an antiques warehouse among mediocre objects of dubious taste. As hungry as artists are for show-space I am certain the painter would never, never have consented to this if he were still alive. Why are his heirs so desperate?
So set your teeth and put on your blinkers and enjoy the second De Niro show in Rome this year. It is even better than the first in the Anderson Museum in January, (see Wanted in Rome 26/01/05).
Here are the most glorious oils of De Niros maturity in the 1970s free, dusky and golden. The painter has been sitting in his studio, musing and gazing at a group of friends and favourite objects. He sets them down with a sure wide brush and works with secret glee and tender knowledge. A few nudes, a gawky anemone in a vase, a parrot, a violin case, a Greek head that is all that is gathered in a realm of intense dark light.
Even if this is semi-abstraction, it is classical art learnt from much study of the masters. And even if there is no horizon or perspective the poised shapes sit in a hollow space, not on flatness. A further piquant contrast is between the subtlety of a mediterranean approach De Niro spent much time in southern France and the rough attack of his native American expressionism. You might call De Niro a New York Fauve.
Gold yellow, poppy reds, rose pinks, lacquer greens, dusty soft blues, are held together by the quick singing rhythm of marks juicy drippy lashes of black. This is elegant as well as profound. The picture is a mysterious entity that holds your eye and heart. It grows in memory. The painter himself wrote he wanted "to create an ordered drama, a balance and serenity evolving from resolution of conflict; the opposition of colour planes." In this selection of mature paintings by De Niro, painterly knowledge and progress are infinitely enticing. Galleria delle Esposizioni Benucci, Via del Babuino 151-153, tel. 0636002190. In collaboration with the Salander-OReilly Galleries, New York. Edith Schloss