Carol RAMA, Olga Carolina Rama (Turin 1918 – 2015)

A self-taught artist, Rama refused adherence to any one specific style, method, or group during her seven-decade career. Beginning in the 1930s, Rama began to create an aesthetic vocabulary filled with icons that were linked to issues of real-life mental illness, financial ruin, and suicide, woven together with a mythologized biography.

When her first exhibition was censored in 1945 for erotic and sexually explicit works, Rama took a hiatus from figurative motifs and became involved with the Concrete Art Movement (MAC) until the mid-1950s. In the early 1960s, Rama created the series Bricolages. Using materials such as glass eyes, medical syringes, animal claws, metal scraps, and decorative beads, she created intensively visceral and uncanny works on paper and board. In 1970, there was a decisive switch with the introduction of rubber, and this material would come to dominate her practice for the next decade. During the 1980s, Rama returned to figuration and an unapologetic representation of orifices and sexualized body parts, often created upon architectural or engineering plans. In the 1990s, news reports of mad cow disease in Europe attracted Rama’s attention and empathy. Embedded in the series La mucca pazza (The Mad Cow) are issues of deviance, madness, death, and sexuality.

At the 50th Venice Biennale in 2003, Rama was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award, and in 2004, she had retrospective exhibitions at the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo in Turin and the Museo di Arte Contemporanea di Rovereto in Trento. In 2014-16, the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA), the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris) and Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Torino organized the first retrospective of her work, The Passion According to Carol Rama. In 2017, the New Museum in New York City organized a solo exhibition titled Carol Rama Antibodies and Palazzo Ca’ nova in Venice Carol Rama: Spazio anche più che tempo.