Mimmo Paladino - Biography

Exhibitions of the artist:



1948 Born 18 December in Paduli, near Benevento, east of Naples

1964 Visits the Venice Biennale where the work of Robert Rauschenberg in the American Pavilion makes a strong impression, revealing to him the ‘reality of art’

1968 Completes his studies at the Liceo artistico di Benevento and within a year has participated in a group show in Naples. His early work uses photo-based imagery as well as showing an awareness of conceptual art: ‘…what I was really looking for was images. The frozen art, made with such a cold medium as the camera, certainly didn’t come naturally, and above all, I couldn’t have kept on making art along such a one-way track that excluded new possibilities’
Solo exhibition at the Galleria Carolina, Portici

1969 Solo exhibition at Enzo Cannaviello’s Studio Oggetto, Caserta

1973 Begins combining images in mixed media, building up a complex iconography that takes account of ‘a terrible mixture of messages from cultures, strangely opposed and divergent, though mixed together’

1977 Paints a seminal work that marks a shift towards painting at odds with current avant-garde practice: ‘I have always thought of my work as something which is on a borderline with risk. Even my first painting with an image came out in a moment when something of this kind was totally outside the idea of painting; and the title, not by chance, was Silence, I am retiring to paint a picture’
Shows a large mural in tempera with Galleria Lucio Amelio in Naples
The same year he moves to Milan

1978 First visit to New York

1980 Invited by the Neapolitan critic Achille Bonito Oliva to show in the Aperto section of the Venice Biennale, together with Sandro Chia, Francesco Clemente, Enzo Cucchi and Nicola De Maria
Publication of the book-object EN DE RE in collaboration with Bonito Oliva (Emilio Mazzoli, Modena)
Begins experimenting with etching, aquatint, lino-cuts and xylography

1981 Participates in A New Spirit in Painting at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, a major exhibition that is shown the following year at the Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin, under the title Zeitgeist
 A major solo exhibition of drawings from the previous five years is organisedby the Kunstmuseum, Basel. It travels to the Kestner-Gesellschaft, Hannover, the Mannheimer Kunstverein, Mannheim, and the Groninger Museum, Groningen, and launches Paladino as an international artist Works on the first of four projects with the New York printmakers Harlan & Weaver

1982 Participates in the Sydney Biennale and in Documenta 7, Kassel
Realises his first sculpture in bronze, Giardino chiuso
Makes the first of numerous visits to Brazil where his father is living

1984 Builds a house and studio in Paduli, near Benevento. From now on, divides his time between Paduli and his apartment in Milan
Shows five recent works at the Newport Harbor Museum as part of Il Modo Italiano, a survey of recent Italian art organized by the Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art and held in several venues

1985 First retrospective exhibition is held at the Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich.
Realises the Pietre, the first of several series of standing figures in white stone

1988 The Italian pavilion at the Venice Biennale devotes a large central space to a massive sculptural work consisting of enigmatic graphic symbols attached to the walls and a group of bronze figures

1989 Designs a Swatch watch which is produced in an edition of 100. ‘The idea was not to decorate a watch, but to design time. My Swatch is like a humorous vanitas, a poetic symbol of passing time that was industrially manufactured’

1990 Commissioned by the theatre director Elio De Capitani to create a set for an open-air performance of the opera La sposa di Messina, based on Friedrich Schiller’s tragic drama, and staged at Gibellina in Sicily as part of the Orestiadi festival. Paladino devises a sculpture-environment to be seen by moonlight. It consists of a Zen garden made of raked gravel dominated by a 15 metre high mountain of salt from which emerge the charred forms of 30 wooden horses

1991 A major exhibition opens in Prague at the Belvedere, the royal castle that has been restored for the occasion; shows a cycle of seven new canvases inspired by the history of Prague, nine bronze torsos and works on paper. A sculpture of a fallen horse exhibited in a nearby piazza is removed after objections by a local bishop.
Completes a new cycle of twelve paintings on wood, Il respiro della bellezza. ‘I’ve always painted as though the canvas itself were a living organism, to create a living, curious, palpitating thing. When I was applying a brushstroke to one of these works, I realised that this gesture was like breathing, like the panting of a man’

1992 Opening of Hortus Conclusus, a permanent sculpture installation for the Chiostro di San Domenico at Benevento: ‘I liked the idea of a Hortus conclusus as a place for looking at and contemplating the work of art …outside the constraints of the art gallery’
The Galleria Civica d’Arte Contemporanea in Trento holds a major exhibition of prints produced between 1970 and 1992

1993 Responds to the assassinations of two judges by the Sicilian Mafia, which also caused the deaths of many others, by painting seven large pictures ‘like a chorus, a requiem, which I then covered up with a coat of limestone wash (the same material used to bury the dead)’                                                                                                                                                                                             Major solo exhibition at Forte Belvedere, Florence

1994 Invited to exhibit in Beijing, the first contemporary Italian artist to be shown there.
Works in Bologna
Publishes Ulysses, 16 June 1904, 21 unnumbered etchings based on James Joyce’s novel

1995 Participates in Reparations, an exhibition of contemporary art held in the Sala delle Reali Poste in the west wing of the Uffizi to mark its restoration after that part of the building had been almost completely destroyed in a car-bomb blast in May 1993

1995–96 Major solo exhibition in Naples, which is shown in three venues: the Scuderie di Palazzo Reale, the Piazza del Plebiscito and the Villa Pignatelli. Paladino’s reconstruction of the Montagna di sale erected in the Piazza del Plebiscito is seen as a provocation and is vandalised early in the New Year

1998 Publishes Film, a collection of 32 drawings (Squadro edizioni grafiche, Bologna)

1999 A major exhibition at the South London Gallery includes Testimoni, a recently completed group of 20 standing figures in white Vicenza stone, and Zenith, a series of mixed-media works on aluminium.
Creates, as part of South London Gallery Projects, an installation I Dormienti in the brick-vaulted undercroft of the Roundhouse at Chalk Farm which is accompanied by a score written by Brian Eno.
An exhibition of new prints opens at the Alan Cristea Gallery.
Made an Honorary member of the Royal Academy of Arts, London

2000 His design for the set of Oedipus Rex at the Teatro Argentina, Rome, directed by Mario Martone, wins the UBU prize for stage design

2001 Illustrates Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, published in two volumes by Casa editrice Le Lettere, Florence
Publication of catalogue raisonné of graphic works 1974-2001, ed. Enzo Di Martino (Art of this Century, New York/Paris)

2002–3 Major retrospective held at the Centro per l’Arte Contemporanea Luigi Pecci,
Represented together with Sandro Chia, Francesco Clemente, Enzo Cucchi and Nicola de Maria in Transavanguardia 1979-1985 at Castello Di Rivoli, Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Turin

2003 Zenith installed in the square of the European Parliament headquarters

2004 Works made in close collaboration with Sol Lewitt are displayed at the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte in Rome
As part of the project Terrae Motus, has a solo show at the Reggia di Caserta

2004–2005 Touring Pinocchio exhibition is held at the modern art museums of six Japanese cities and at the eighteenth-century Scola dei Battioro in Venice

2005 Mimmo Paladino in Scena opens at the Loggetta Lombardesca in Ravenna.
Statue Zenith exhibited at EXPO 2005 in Aichi, Japan
An exhibition dedicated to the theme of Don Quixote by Cervantes opens in December at the Museo di Capodimonte, Naples

2006 Porta con Figura exhibited at the New Art Centre Sculpture Park and Gallery at Roche Court, Salisbury
Commissioned to re-design the Piazza dei Guidi at the new home of the Museo Leonardiano in Vinci

2009 Paladino: Sculpture 1980-2008, written by Enzo Di Martino and Friedhelm Mennekes published by Skira

2011 Montagna del Sale (‘Mountain of Salt’) installed in the Piazza del Duomo in Milan, as part of the celebrations to mark the anniversary of the unification of Italy. The installation has a diameter of 30 meters and a height of 20 meters
Shortlisted for The Royal Academy of Arts, London Wollaston Award

2013 Exhibition in summer during the international Ravello Festival

2015 Again at the Venice Biennale with a great installation

2016 An important retrospective at the Galleria Christian Stein, Milan.
Sculpture exhibition at the Meijer Gardens, Grand Rapids, USA

2017 The city of Brescia hosts more than 70 works collocated in several points during the exhibition Ouverture


Mimmo Paladino lives and works in Milan, Rome and Paduli, Italy


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Mimmo Paladino

Mimmo Paladino