“Omaggio a Lucio Amelio”

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When Galerie Pièce Unique opened at 4 rue Jacques Callot in Saint-Germain-des-Prés more than thirty years ago, it triggered a friction between seduction and the street rarely seen off Rue Saint-Denis. Tipsily departing Café La Palette past the gallery’s titanic window façade, one could not avoid close (if cool) contact with a single sizable contemporary artwork in its window, day or night. This slick setup was generously orchestrated by Neapolitan gallerist Lucio Amelio with the assistance of Belgian dealer Isy Brachot.

After Amelio passed away from AIDS-related complications in 1994, his Rive Gauche concept/brand/space persisted under the capable hands of Marussa Gravagnuolo and Christine Lahoud. But this February, Pièce Unique jumped banks to Le Marais, where gallerist Massimo De Carlo has gallantly planted its pennant at 57 rue de Turenne.

Casually viewable from the street (and from within) is the wee rotating exhibition “Omaggio a Lucio Amelio.” Offering a voluptuous transavantgarde and eighties art star tutelage, it puts nothing up for sale.

The homage is anchored by Andy Warhol’s Portrait de Lucio Amelio, 1985, a beautiful contour drawing collage that echoes Henri Matisse. Turned out in contrasting pink and green, Amielo’s likeness gazes upon a different work each week of the show’s run. The rotation began with Cy Twombly’s fiery Terrae Motus, 1987, from Mimmo Paladino’s collection and will conclude with Paladino’s own Respiro, 1993, a complex installation featuring a wall mural, a silver sculpture, and sound equipment. In between are Giulio Paolini’s minimalist triptych Parnaso, 1977, Warhol’s luxurious silkscreen Vesuvius, 1985, and a beautiful 1979 nude portrait of Bob Love from Robert Mapplethorpe’s Black Book (1986). Nice nods all to Amelio: a natty Neapolitan nobleman of contemporary art, who merits such street-smart eruptions of his legacy into our less extravagant century.

Joseph Nechvatal

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