Frank Holliday in Rome

particolare dell'opera di Frank Holliday "Magical Thinking", 2016, olio su tela, 250 x 209 cm
20/06 - 01/12/2019
Museo Carlo Bilotti Aranciera di Villa Borghese

The artist’s first solo show in an Italian museum, with 36 works done in 2016.

Another exhibition on a similar theme, Club 57: Film, Performance, and Art in the East Village, 1978-1983, closed at MoMA in New York in April 2018. Held in collaboration with the Keith Haring Foundation, this exhibition is the largest ever show devoted entirely to the historic East Village club, who helped give legendary status to the New York counterculture in the late 1970's and early 1980's. The show took great care to outline the art scene of the period by including works by Keith Haring, Kenny Scharf, Adolfo Sanchez and Frank Holliday.
A little over a year later, Frank Holliday makes his first appearance in an Italian museum with his solo show held at Museo Carlo Bilotti, which will display 36 works, all created in 2016 during what the artist himself describes as his "monastic" Roman retreat. Indeed, throughout the summer of 2016, Holliday worked with speed and uncommon concentration in his studio near Piazza Navona – the works of the Italian Grand Masters all around him for inspiration, especially those of Caravaggio.
As the artist says in his interview with Anney Bonney, filmed by Eric Marciano, he would paint in the morning and at lunchtime he would go and look at a painting by Caravaggio. It was particularly exciting for him to step into the peaceful calm of the Cappella Contarelli, which was more or less the same size as his Roman studio. He would stand in front of the series of St Matthew paintings and let their power wash over him; then he would go back to his work in the studio. Looking at the artworks in Italy, Frank Holliday has discovered there are three "zones": heaven, which is usually bright, airy and weightless – something we can’t have but which we can have an idea about. Then there’s earth and then hell. And hell is the force of gravity, always reaching up trying to pull us down, with us stuck in the middle. The artist looked carefully at how Bernini dealt with gravity in his work. His brilliance can be seen in the way one senses the pull of the weight of the earth and the quest of the spiritual in the stone.
In his "Roman cycle" paintings, Frank Holliday has relentlessly explored precisely this intermediate space between heaven and hell, the middle area, as the show’s curator, Cesare Biasini Selvaggi, points out. His great skill lies in giving a visual aspect to something completely immaterial, in other words painting reality in its unreality, seeking the hereafter in this world and this world in thinking about the hereafter. The beauty of the paint counterbalances the vigor of the brushstrokes, in a sequence of paradoxes where light and shadows, descents and ascents, absences and presences become inseparable.
An exhibition catalogue will be published by Carlo Cambi Editore, with commentary by Cesare Biasini Selvaggi, Carter Ratcliff and an interview with Anney Bonney, as well as a critical anthology, biographical notes and bibliography.


Museo Carlo Bilotti Aranciera di Villa Borghese
Opening hours

20 june to 1 december 2019
From Tuesday to Friday opening hours 13.00 - 19.00 (last entrance 18.30).
Saturday and Sunday opening hours 10.00 - 19.00 (last entrance 18.30).
Closed Monday

Entrance ticket

free entrance exhibition and museum


Tel 060608 (all days 9.00 – 19.00)

Promoted by
Roma CapitaleAssessorato alla Crescita culturale - Sovrintendenza Capitolina ai Beni Culturali

by Galleria Mucciaccia and sponsored by Partners & Mucciaccia Gallery

Ambasciata degli Stati Uniti d'America in Italia

Museum services
Zètema Progetto Cultura

Exhibition|Contemporary art
Cesare Biasini Selvaggi

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