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Mirella Bentivoglio

  • Untitled (Libro cuore)
  • La Bella addormentata (il filo murato)
  • Il seme del tempo

Mirella Bertarelli, born on March 28, 1922, in Klagenfurt, Austria, to Italian parents, devoted her life to exploring photography and the artistic language.

After a childhood in Milan, Mirella pursued English studies at the Universities of Sheffield and Cambridge in England, earning proficiency diplomas. From a young age, she expressed her creativity by writing poems in both Italian and English. In 1943, at the age of twenty, she published her first collection of poems, “Giardino,” edited by Scheiwiller.

In 1949, she married Ludovico Matteo Bentivoglio, a university professor of International Law, and together they had three daughters: Marina, Leonetta, and Ilaria. Motherhood marked a significant turning point in her artistic vision, fostering a connection between image, sign, and word.

In the following years, Mirella Bentivoglio expanded her academic and professional horizons. In 1958, she attended the Salzburg Seminar for American Studies, where she became passionate about art criticism. In 1963, she wrote a monograph on the Lithuanian-born American artist Ben Shahn, published by De Luca editions.

Her artistic exploration increasingly focused on the fusion of verbal language and image, aligning with the international neo-avant-garde movements of the 1960s and 1970s. She delved into Concrete Poetry, Visual Poetry, and Visual Writing, experimenting with wordplay, decomposition of meanings, and intelligent irony.

In 1968, she published her second collection of poems, “Calendar,” and obtained qualifications to teach Aesthetics and History of Art in Italian Academies. In 1971, she held her first solo exhibition at Milan’s Galleria Schwarz, followed by a second anthological exhibition at Rome’s Galleria Pictogramma in 1973.

Over the years, the artist explored various art forms, including performance, poetry-action, and poetry-environment. She created large symbolic structures of linguistic origin in public spaces, exemplified by the famous “Ovo di Gubbio” in 1976. She also innovated the concept of the artist’s book, using stone to ensure a form of physical immortality for her works.

Mirella Bentivoglio tirelessly championed female artists, organizing numerous thematic exhibitions and curating international exhibitions that promoted women’s presence in art and culture.

In the 1990s, she gained recognition in the United States, with exhibitions at the MoMA in New York and the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington. Her works found their place in the permanent collections of prominent American institutions.

In the new millennium, her exhibition activity intensified, with significant events in Japan, Italy, and the United States. In 2011, she donated her extensive archive of female art to the Mart (Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Trento and Rovereto), contributing to the preservation of women’s artistic memory.

Mirella Bentivoglio passed away in Rome on March 22, 2017. Today, her work is displayed in various cultural institutions and museums worldwide, and her artistic legacy continues to influence and inspire generations of artists and critics.