Composizione, 1952

Composition, 1952
Painting, 70 x 110 cm

Within the broad and productive career of Carol Rama, spanning nearly seven decades (1936–2006), Composizione (Composition) is part of the works developed in the early fifties. After an introduction to painting through the figure – a carnal and sensual figuration with a violence and intensity far removed from the norm – Rama turned to geometric abstraction. This change allowed Rama to distance herself from the figurative work that had been censored by Mussolini’s government.

After her pieces were removed from the Turin exhibition in 1945 for being ‘indecent’ and ‘obscene’, Rama stopped signing with her full name (Olga Carolina Rama) and began to sign herself Carol Rama. The artist interpreted the censorship of the first exhibition as a warning or ‘invitation’ to abandon the contentious ‘I’ of figurative motifs and move on to what she called the ‘abstract war’. Rama then gravitated to the geometric rigour inspired by the Concrete Art Movement so she could ‘have some order’ and ‘limit excessive freedom’, to use her own words.

In abstract painting, Concretism was essentially a trend developed from the text Manifesto of Concrete Art (1930) by the Dutch artist Theo van Doesburg. This understanding of abstraction, free from any reference to facts, flourished especially in northern Italy and in France during the forties and fifties. Concrete art puts form before colour, which remains on its flat plane, meaning that either one or the other already constitutes a reality that is sufficiently concrete and specific.

In this context, between 1951 and 1954, Rama made a series of paintings sharing the name Composizione, which displays different geometries of flat, dark colours. While in some works from 1953 and 1954 these geometric forms are already drawn with a more gestural line and more expressive colour, the works of 1952 and early 1953 are still constructed as pure geometries. The work in the MACBA Collection, Composizione (1953), is part of the latter group, with a large geometric body that unfolds and is developed by a mosaic of smaller geometries of flat colours. Concretism, the only time that Rama is ascribed to a collective movement, serves to purify her work and leave behind a troubled figuration. Still, this proved to be a single moment in a long artistic career since, in the mid-fifties, Rama distanced herself from geometry to return to her unique form of figuration.

Technical details

Original title:
Registration number:
Rama, Carol
Date created:
Date acquired:
MACBA Collection. MACBA Foundation
Object type:
Oil on canvas
70 x 110 cm (height x width)
MACBA Collection. MACBA Foundation. Work purchased thanks to Freixenet
© Carol Rama
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The MACBA Collection features Catalan, Spanish and international art and, although it includes works from the 1920s onwards, its primary focus is on the period between the 1960s and the present.

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