California x Milan

Edizioni O, Galleria Milano, and Carla Pellegrini

Carla Pellegrini

Active from the late 1960s until 1976, Edizioni O was a Milan-based publishing house specializing in art catalogs and graphics. The company was founded by Baldo Pellegrini, along with with Carlo Monzio and Antony Matthews, following the opening of Galleria Milano in 1964. Edizioni O intended to meet the rising gallery's need for high-level editions providing relevant culture discourse and international appeal. 

Today, Galleria Milano is one of the longest-running institutions dedicated to contemporary art in Italy. First opened in 1928, the gallery closed during World War II before it reopened in the 1960s. At the helm of this renewal was Carla Pellegrini, who served as Galleria Milano's director from 1965 until her death in 2019. Over the course of her career, she organized an estimated 300 exhibitions – including several early shows of California artists Billy Al Bengston, Joe Goode, Ken Price, and Ed Ruscha. As Artforum put it, Pellegrini's exhibitions "reflected a clear political commitment in the range of media, styles, and groups she championed, from avant-garde photography to popular culture and from anthropological research to experimental cinema."

Art is something you can't teach, but you can inspire it.

Billy Al Bengston

Billy Al Bengston

Based in Venice, California, Billy Al Bengston burst onto the scene in the 1950s with his passion for motorcycle racing and art. Bengston was discharged from the California College of Arts and Crafts in 1955 for depleting the clay supply. Following this exit, he enrolled at the Otis Art Institute to study under Peter Voulkos whom he later named as a significant influence, along with Richard Diebenkorn. Bengston found immediate success in the Los Angeles art scene, enjoying multiple solo shows at Ferus Gallery and a 1968 exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. His artistic output, mainly sculpture and painting, is informed by a variety of influences that range from his love of motorcycles and car-detailing techniques to recurring geometric shapes similar to those of Jasper Johns. Art historian Andrew Perchuck included Bengston among the "West Coast artists, including Robert Irwin and Ken Price, who were instrumental in redefining the terms of artistic identity in the early 60s by insisting that sub-cultural affinities and leisure-time activities (surfing, car customizing) were at the foundation of their artistic personas."

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