Cinema Vezzoli


Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA


Press release

Cinema Vezzoli presents mixed-media works, videos, two tapestries, and a sculpture by Francesco Vezzoli (b. 1971, Brescia, Italy). Rife with art-historical and autobiographical references and showcasing the artist's love of embroidery, classic European cinema, and Hollywood stardom, the works explore the modern-day obsession with celebrity. Using the language of commodification, Vezzoli creates parodies of mass media and popular culture as it infiltrates the private lives of public figures.

In a series of portraits of movie icons in star-shaped frames, reminiscent of the stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, long streams of embroidered tears emanate from the eyes of Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. A gallery dedicated to Italian filmmaker Luchino Visconti, an influential figure in Vezzoli's oeuvre, displays teary-eyed portraits of actors from the director's celebrated films Senso (1954) and Death in Venice (1971). The sorrow portrayed in these works represents life's intrinsic drama, existing regardless of wealth or fame.

Vezzoli's faux movie posters substitute lead actors from the original films with art-world figures. In this fictional world, German American textile artist Anni Albers replaces Dutch actress Sylvia Kristel as Emmanuelle in the 1974 French erotic feature with the same name. In All About Anni-Anni vs. Marlene (The Saga Begins) (2006), Albers is paired with the iconic actress Marlene Dietrich in an imagined story of rivalry between two strong and talented women. Sex, art, and movies coalesce frequently and dramatically in Vezzoli's intense fixation with stardom.

At the core of the exhibition is a theater-like space sharing the exhibition's title, Cinema Vezzoli. The selection of videos screened here feature well-known contemporary actors Marisa Berenson, Milla Jovovich, Eva Mendes, Helen Mirren, Natalie Portman, and Michelle Williams. Upon exiting the theater, visitors are presented with a large tapestry depicting the opening credits from Sono come tu mi vuoi (As You Desire Me, 2007), a film starring legendary Swedish American actress Greta Garbo. Vezzoli's fascination with larger-than-life personalities comes full circle with the inclusion of Portrait of Sophia Loren as the Muse of Antiquity (After Giorgio de Chirico) (2011), installed in the museum's courtyard.