Plein Air N.Y., 1968
Acrylic on canvas
243.5 × 493.5 cm (triptych, total dimensions)
Valerio Adami (Bologna, 1935)
This work by Valerio Adami, a landscape deserted of human life in New York City at the end of the 1960s, reminds us of the unusual images shown in the media during the last weeks of strict lockdown at home. They showed emblematic public spaces in different towns and cities, usually crowded, taking on a so far unknown different dimension, without human presence. And they also questioned our life and development model.
Adami is not only heir to the rich Italian pictorial tradition, from the pre-Renaissance to Giorgio de Chirico and his so-called ‘metaphysical’ landscapes of architectures equally deserted of human presence; he is also a free spirit within the so-called Pop Art movement, which spread widely both in the US and in Europe from the end of the fifties of the last century, reaching its peak a decade later.
Adami takes on some characteristics of pop language, clearly visible in this work, Plein Air NY, such as the figures silhouetted by emphatic black lines and the flat, fresh and contrasting colours in a style very close to the ligne claire comic. However, it is nonetheless true that his work denotes as much concern for the formal as for the intellectual, and references to poetry, literature, philosophy or history, in the form of letters, are constant in a large part of his production.
We may recall here the words of the professor and researcher Carmen Bernárdez Sanchís (1954-2018): “Adami remains faithful to the concept that Renaissance artists had of drawing: to be both the quintessential anatomy (of any object, figure or landscape), and the graphic manifestation of thought.”