“Duo”: behind the scenes of the setting

The exhibition dedicated to Niki de Saint Phalle and Jean Tinguely “Duo. Anime ribelli, spiriti gemelli. Destini intrecciati nell’arte”, set up into our exhibition spaces from 18th October to 18th December 2015. It was created with a specific purpose: to present to the public these artists through their couple dimension, emphasizing on one hand the complementary nature of their art, to the other the opposition of their characters and their styles, re-proposing through their works the constant game of opposition and attraction that characterized their artistic life and love.

The whole exhibition turns around this concept of duality, for which we decided to create an innovative setting – a sharp break with our experiences – to go beyond the mere exhibition and include the works within a context conceived first as a story.

But let the person who has followed the exhibition from the beginning, the architect Eleonora Castagnetta Botta, tell us how the project was born. As well as explain its main features.


What is the main idea of this setting?

This exhibition was inspired by the reading of two personalities as artistic couple and then, by the desire to offer a wing where the works could constantly dialogue, counterpose, the pinnacle is the key element, the trailhead.

The V, that even in mathematical terms means set union, is the three-dimensional support to face the setting up path. We found it repeated at the entrance as an invitation to proceed towards the main exhibition hall. Then again in the access threshold of the main room and in the sidewalls, to accommodate drawings and collages of both artists.

The topic of the diagonal where all the sculptures are aligned leads the public to an overall view of the two artists, investigation that ends with one last small room illuminated with lamps realized by the same artists and a video showing the realization of an exhibited work.


How did you choose to return to the viewer the idea of the couple Niki/Jean?

The concept of the couple is the subject of this exhibition: to converge to an artistic unicum, a “Duo” where the eye of one scrutinizes, investigates and comments on the work of the other, means finding complementarity and harmony between two different ways of working.

Then, the title of the exhibition at the beginning of the expositive path crowns two serpent chairs realized by Niki de Saint Phalle: two thrones for two great artists, who snakes seem lightly touch as their hands.


What do Niki de Saint Phalle and Jean Tinguely represent for your personal story?

My personal story starts in Sicily, where you can closely feel the echo of the historical moment lived by Niki and Jean with artists such as Carla Accardi or Pietro Consagra.

However, my acquaintance with the two artists was sealed in 2004 from the entrance as a student at the Academy of Architecture in Mendrisio, under the eye of the imposing “Oiseau amoreux” by Niki de Saint Phalle.

Thereafter, the visit to the Tinguely Museum in Basel and the its architectural design created by my father in law, the architect Mario Botta, gave me one more reason to study and appreciate these two artists which are personally connected to our family.


How would you synthesize the relationship between architecture and art?

Both the architecture and the arts in general are the mark of their own time, and they always represent for a particular period of history the will and thought of a man, an architect, an artist.

The relationship between art and architecture is concretized in a museum, as well as between music and architecture in a theater or even between faith and architecture in a place of worship and so on. Therefore, it is clear how the quality of a museum space becomes a mirror of history, of the contingency.

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