Rita Ackermann and Carol Rama BODY MATTERS
I choose these things, prostheses, false teeth, shaving brushes, razors, urinals because they are what I like the most, they are victims of what they are, they have no chance of changing.
— Carol Rama
Philosopher and curator Beatriz Preciado describes the art historical relevance of Carol Rama’s oeuvre as a conspicuous absence: “Amputated from history in 1945, the work of Rama would return later—insistent and harrowing, like a phantom limb.” The historical severance to which she refers is the censorship inflicted on the artist’s first solo show at the Faber Gallery in Turin, when Italy’s fascist government shut down the exhibition of 27 watercolors, all signed with the artist’s full name “Olga Carolina Rama.” The watercolors that had been deemed too lewd for public consumption were figural, art-brut renderings of naked men and women in sexually explicit poses; the images of women masturbating were singularly obscene. Long before the second-wave feminists would assert the existence and importance of female sexuality and the feminine gaze, Rama was unabashedly creating delicate yet poignantly affectionate images from a highly sexual and insistently feminine perspective. The artist had never received any formal training during her bourgeois upbringing, and accordingly these early watercolors are imbued with the budding artist’s raw energy and youthful boldness. Despite this early censorship, Rama continued to create new work but decided to abandon figuration and engage in the burgeoning arena of abstraction that was already dominant in the major metropolises of Italy. She quickly became involved in the Concrete Art Movement (MAC) via her friendship with artist Felice Casorati, and it was with this embrace of abstraction that the artist began signing her works “Carol Rama.”
Rita Ackermann is surely one of the most inspired artists and free spirits of the New York art world. Almost 20 years ago, shortly after she arrived in the US from Hungary, Rita decided to stay and work in New York City and it was in this world of excessive drug-taking, fast sex, and perverse commerce that she became known for her drawings and collages of an innocent young girl, perhaps a surrogate of her own pure soul. Rita quickly became an iconic figure of the glory years of the ’90s downtown New York scene, a kindred spirit of Sonic Youth, Harmony Korine, Chloë Sevigny, Bernadette Corporation, and Richard Kern. But she never sold out for fame. Now she’s full of new energy, gathering new people around her — experimenting with new forms for her drawings, collages, and paintings; giving performances and playing music.
Born in Budapest, Hungary
Lives and works in New York NY
The New York Studio School of Painting, Drawing and Sculpture (Hanes Foundation), New York NY
Academy of Fine Arts, Budapest, Hungary
Born in Turin, Italy
Died in Turin, Italy