Carol Rama

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Carol Rama
Born Olga Carolina Rama
(1918-04-17)17 April 1918
Turin, Italy
Died 25 September 2015(2015-09-25) (aged 97)
Turin, Italy
Education Self-taught
Known for Painting, bricolage

Carol Rama (born Olga Carolina Rama; 17 April 1918 – 25 September 2015) was an Italian self-taught artist whose unconventional painting encompassed an erotic, and often sexually aggressive universe populated by characters who present themes of sexual identity with specific references to female sensuality.[1] Her work was relatively little known until curator Lea Vergine included several pieces in a 1980 exhibition, prompting Rama to revisit her earlier watercolour style.[2]


Rama was born in Turin to Marta née Pugliara and bicycle manufacturer Amabile Rama. When she was 15, her mother was admitted to a psychiatric clinic.[3] Her father went bankrupt and committed suicide.[4] As a young unmarried woman in fascist Italy, at 21 years of age, Rama was already creating images that were challenging state censorship. She frequented the salons and studios of Felice Casorati.[5]

Between 1937 and 1945 she often painted portraits, both of friends and self, with simplified flattened depictions, recalling some of the efforts of Amedeo Modigliani. Her first exhibition in 1945 at Galleria Faber was shut down by the Turin police.[3][4] Her early works were watercolour paintings and beginning in the 1950s she began incorporating objects such as hypodermic syringes and small mechanical parts into her art. In the 1960s, her primary material became strips of rubber from tyres.[3][4] During the early 1950s, she joined with other abstract artists in the Movimento Arte Concreta torinese, although always maintaining her individual style.[6]

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, she had connections with filmmakers Luis Buñuel and Orson Welles as well as the visual artists Man Ray and Andy Warhol.[3]

"I didn't think I had the qualities for becoming an artist," she told SAST Report in a 2005 interview, and continued with describing the view she had of the contemporary art scene: "Beautiful women, prima donnas, beautiful people who speak several different languages, sitting and being charming."[3]

At the 50th Venice Biennale in 2003, Rama was presented with the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement.[3] The following year she had a retrospective at the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo in her birthplace of Turin.[7]

Major exhibitions[edit]

  • 1945 Galleria Faber, Turin
  • 1946 Galleria Il Bosco, Turin
  • 1947 Galleria Il Bosco, Turin
  • 1955 Libreria Il Salto, Milano, (presentation by Albino Galvano)
  • 1957 Galleria La Bussola, Turin, (presentation by Galvano)
  • 1959 Galleria La Bussola, Turin, (presentation by Luigi Carluccio)
  • 1960 Galleria La Bussola, Turin, (presentation by Galvano)
  • 1964 Galleria Stampatori, Turin, (presentation by Galvano and Edoardo Sanguineti); Galleria La Carabaga, Sampierdarena (presentation by Edoardo Sanguineti)
  • 1965 Museo Civico, Pistoia, (presentation by Sanguineti)
  • 1966 Galleria Lutrin, Lione, (presentation by Sanguineti)
  • 1967 Galleria Numero, Rome, (presentation by Sanguineti); Galleria Fiamma Vigo, Rome, (presentation by Sanguineti)
  • 1970 Sala Bolaffi, Turin
  • 1971 Galleria La Bussola, Turin, (presentation by Sanguineti)
  • 1972 Galleria Anthea, Rome, (presentation by Sanguineti)
  • 1974 Galleria Il Fauno, Turin (presentation by Man Ray)
  • 1975 Galleria LP220, Turin, (presentation by Maurizio Fagiolo dell'Arco); Galleria Marin, Turin (presentation by Fagiolo dell'Arco)
  • 1976 Place and sign, Galleria Luciano Anselmino, Milan, (presentation by Sanguineti); Galleria Il Capricorno, Venice, (presentation by Sanguineti)
  • 1978 Galleria Weber, Turin, (presentation by Giancarlo Salzano)
  • 1979 Galleria Martano, Turin, (presentation by Paolo Fossati, Galvano, Marco Vallora)
  • 1980 Carol Rama: watercolors 1939-1941, work 1966-1980, Galleria Giancarlo Salzano, Turin (presentation by Corrado Levi and Sanguineti)
  • 1981 Carol Rama, works 1950-1955, Galleria D'Arte Maggiorotto, Cavallermaggiore (presentation by Galvano and Paolo Fossati)
  • 1983/84 Galleria Giancarlo Salzano, Turin (texts by Levi, Sanguineti, and Lea Vergine)
  • 1985 Sagrato del Duomo, Milan, (curated by Lea Vergine); Carol Rama: Seven Works, Galleria Giancarlo Salzano, Turin
  • 1987 Carol Rama, Works from 1937 to 1987, Galleria Dell'Oca, Rome, (presentation by Giuliano Briganti and Corrado Levi)
  • 1988 Casa del Mantegna, Mantova (presentation by Giorgio Manganelli, Francesco Bartoli, Giuliano Briganti and Anne-Marie Sauzeau Boetti)
  • 1989 Circolo degli Artisti, Turin (presentation by Paolo Fossati)
  • 1990 Galleria UXA, Novara; Carol Rama, works 1989/90, Galleria Giancarlo Salzano
  • 1991 Galleria Giancarlo Salzano; Paintings and drawings 1940/48, Galleria Giancarlo Salzano
  • 1993 Carol Rama: Quasi note azzurre (Almost blue notes), Galleria Giancarlo Salzano, XLV Biennale Internazionale d'Arte, Venice (presentation by Achille Bonito Oliva and Corrado Levi)
  • 1993/94 La corona di Keaton, 1993 Idilli, 1993 Inediti, 1952/57, Galleria Giancarlo Salzano
  • 1994 Galleria Monica De Cardenas, Milano
  • 1994-95 Carol Rama, Past to Present 1994-1930, Galleria Sprovieri, Rome (presentation by Achille Bonito Oliva and Maurizio Fagiolo dell'Arco)
  • 1995 Le stanze di Carolina 1939-1994, Galleria Otto, Bologna (presentation by Paolo Fossati and Dario Trento)
  • 1996 Galleria Il Ponte, Turin; Stamperia del Borgo Po, Turin (text by Sanguineti)
  • 1997 Carol Rama, works on paper, 1930s to present, Esso Gallery, New York (presentation by Filippo Fossati, Levi, Paolo Fossati, Sanguineti and Ingrid Schaffner); Galleria Giancarlo Salzano, Turin
  • 1998 Retrospective, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam traveling to ICA Boston; Incisioni Recenti, Franco Masoero Edizioni d'Arte, Turin
  • 1999 Carol Rama, GAM, Museo d'Arte Moderna, Turin
  • 2002 Galérie Anne de Villepoix, Paris
  • 2003 Biennale di Venezia, Venice, Italy; Carol Rama, past and present, Esso Gallery, New York
  • 2004 Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin
  • 2014 Carol Rama and Danh Vo, Nottingham Contemporary, Nottingham, UK
  • 2015 La Passion selon Carol Rama, The Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris
  • 2016 The Passion According to Carol Rama, Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA), Dublin
  • 2017 Carol Rama: Antibodies, New Museum of Contemporary Art (New York, N.Y.) April 26-September 10, 2017.


  1. ^ "Addio a Carol Rama, artista eccentrica ammirata da Sanguineti e Calvino" (in Italian). La Stampa. Retrieved 25 September 2015.
  2. ^ Bell, Kirsty (June–August 2009). "Review: Carol Rama". Frieze magazine (124). Archived from the original on 2010-11-04.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Carol Rama". SAST Report. 2005. Retrieved 25 September 2015.
  4. ^ a b c Hickling, Alfred (25 January 2005). "Carol Rama: Baltic, Gateshead". The Guardian.
  5. ^ Notes for exhibition of Solo Donna by Gianfranco Schialvino in the city of Bra in 2011, page 60.
  6. ^ Solo Donna notes, by Gianfranco Schialvino.
  7. ^ Rhodes, David (October 2012). "Carol Rama: Spazio anche più che tempo". The Brooklyn Rail.

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