28 March 1922 |
|Known for||Sculpture, poetry, performance art|
|Movement||Concrete poetry, visual poetry|
In the 1960s she joined the international concrete poetry movement. She has participated in exhibitions all over the world, including the Venice Biennale (eight times from 1969 to 2001) and the Museum of Modern Art (1992).
Mirella Bentivoglio was born in Klagenfurt, Austria, from Italian parents. Her dad, Ernesto Bertarelli, was a scientist and professor at the University of Pavia and an avid collector of books. Mirella grew up in Milan and studied in Italy, Switzerland and England.
She started her career as a poet when she was very young. She published her first collection of poems, Giardino, in 1943, but she waited until 1968 to publish her second poetry book. This unusually long period between the two publications was intentional, the result of a dissatisfaction with the rigidity of the printed word and its inability to fully represent the open and multifaceted experiences from which the poems have emerged. In 1963 she published her first work as an art critic, a monographic study on the Lithuanian-born American artist Ben Shahn.
As an art critic, artist and poet, in the 1960s she began to focus on the expressive visualization of language. At that time she joined the concrete poetry movement, and she started using alphabetic elements to create images. Examples of this creative period include Successo (Success), 1968, and Pagina-finestra (Window-Page), 1971.
In the 1970s, Mirella Bentivoglio became particularly fascinated with the letters E and O, that in Italian respectively stand for the English words "and" and "or". E became a sign for community, connection, while O became a sign for identity and individuality. Few years later, she became increasingly involved with sculpture and performance art, making the letters evolve in three-dimensional forms: the E became the open book, while the O became the egg.
The first sculptural work that uses the book and the egg is Poema Totale (Total Poem), 1974. These two images recur in many of her later works, and appear in one of her most remarkable work, L'Ovo di Gubbio (The Egg of Gubbio), from 1976.
In 1976 Bentivoglio created another work for the Italian town of Gubbio, titled Poesia all'albero (The Poem to the Tree). This performance art piece consisted of hoisting in the main square of the town a tree and inviting passers-by to write something on a piece of paper, and then to attach it to the tree. Bentivoglio then collected the papers and chose some among them to create a unique poem.
All Bentivoglio's work is pervaded by a wry critique of Western societies, their patriarchal structures, obsession with material consumption, pollution of the environment and celebration of power over compassion. As a curator and a critic, she always worked to promote women artists.
For the artist's 90th birthday, the National gallery of Contemporary Art in Rome organized a retrospective about her work. She currently lives and works in Rome.
- 1971, Schwarz Gallery in Milan
- 1973, São Paulo Art Biennial; Klingspor Museum, Offenbach
- 1977, Italian House in Rochester, New York; The Poetry Collection, University of Buffalo
- 1978, Italian Cultural Institute, New York
- 1981, Metronom, Barcelona
- 1987, Tower of the Leper, Aosta
- 1988, Writers' Forum, London
- 1991, Art Center, Edewecht
- 1999, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington DC
- 1969, 1972, 1978, 1980, 1986, 1995, Venice Biennale
- 1973, 1981, 1994, São Paulo Art Biennial
- 1982, documenta, Kassel
- 1978, 1981, 1982, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris
- 1986, XI Quadriennale Nazionale di Roma
- 1992, Museum of Modern Art, New York
- 1994, Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice
- Günter Berghaus, ed. (2000). "Innovative Artist's Books of Italian Futurism". International futurism in arts and literature. Walter de Gruyter. ISBN 978-3-11-015681-2.
- The Visual Poetry of Mirella Bentivoglio, Edizioni De Luca, 1999, ISBN 88-8016-296-9
- Bentivoglio Mirella; Zoccoli Franca, Le futuriste italiane nelle arti visive, De Luca Editori d'Arte, 2008, ISBN 978-88-8016-795-2
- Frances K. Pohl, "Language / Image / Object: The Work of Mirella Bentivoglio", Woman's Art Journal, Vol.6: No.1 (Spring - Summer, 1985), pp. 17–22 accessed at  - subscription only
- The Visual Poetry of Mirella Bentivoglio, National Museum of Women in the Arts, 1999, ISBN 978-88-8016-296-4 
- "Clara: Mirella Bentivoglio". National Museum of Women in the Arts. Retrieved 30 March 2013.
- The Visual Poetry of Mirella Bentivoglio. Roma, Italy: Edizioni De Luca. 1999. ISBN 88-8016-296-9.
- "Mirella Bentivoglio". National Museum of Women in the Arts. Retrieved 29 March 2013.
- Andresen, Alexandra. "Bentivoglio, Mirella". Treccani.it. Retrieved 29 March 2013.