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Distributed April 1, 2004
Contact Mary Jo Curtis

Public Art Committee will bring Paola Pivi mural to Brown

Brown’s Public Art Committee is bringing a 33-by-40-foot photographic mural by Italian artist Paola Pivi to campus. The untitled work, on loan to Brown, will be installed on the western exterior of Brown’s Sciences Library on Thayer Street.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Artist Paola Pivi’s playful photographic mural of a donkey riding in a rowboat will be installed within the next few days on the western facade of Brown University’s Sciences Library on Thayer Street.


To surprise and amuse
Paola Pivi’s Untitled (Donkey) has traveled from the 2003 Venice Biennale to Brown University, where it will be mounted on the western facade of the Sciences Library.

Pivi’s work – Untitled (Donkey), 2003 – is being brought to campus by the University’s Public Art Committee as part of its Art on Campus program. The work is on loan from the artist, courtesy of Galerie Massimo de Carlo in Milan, Italy. The mural, which Pivi created using ink jet on pvc, is 33 feet, 6 inches by 40 feet, 4 inches and will cover a three-floor segment on the Thayer Street side of the library. Workers will attach a metal armature to the building, then stretch the mural across the armature, which will hold it in place. The installation should take several days.

“This piece of art differs from the previous installations in several important ways,” said Jo-Ann Conklin, director of Brown’s David Winton Bell Gallery and a member of the Public Art Committee. “It is the work of a young artist who is relatively unknown in the United States. The Public Art Committee is interested in extending the range of works shown on campus to include contemporary works by younger artists, as these may be more pertinent to and more immediately understood by students. We’re interested in works that reach beyond the traditional definition of art and demonstrate its vitality.

“It’s also notable that this is a photograph, not a sculpture,” Conklin added. “Public art has traditionally been sculptural, but more and more works in other media – photography, video, audio – are being placed in public spaces.”

Born in Milan in 1971, Paola Pivi studied nuclear engineering before turning to art and attending the Academia di Breara. Her work has been shown widely throughout Europe and Asia, and “Donkey” was included in the 2003 Venice Biennale. (It was brought to Brown immediately upon the close of the Biennale.) Pivi was also included in the 2001 Venice Biennale and was awarded the Prize d’Oro. “Donkey” is one of a series of whimsical images by the artist in which animals show up in unexpected places – such as zebras on a snowy mountainside and ostriches in the ocean.


Paola Pivi: Untitled (Donkey)
Placing animals in unexpected places or situations allows Pivi to create photographs that are patently absurd yet enigmatic.

“Pivi prefers traditional photography to computer-generated imagery, and she stages each photograph like a performance, transporting the animals to remote locations and enacting her events,” said Conklin. “The resulting images are enigmatic, patently absurd and humorous. When displayed in public spaces, her images surprise and amuse viewers, lifting them briefly from their ordinary routine.”

The Public Art Committee, an affiliate of the Corporation’s Facilities and Design Committee, brings world-class works of art to Brown’s campus for display in public spaces. Chaired by Chancellor Emeritus Artemis Joukowsky, it includes Robert Emlen, University curator; Richard Fishman, chair of visual art and director of the Creative Arts Council; Dietrich Neumann, professor of history of art and architecture; and Conklin. Most recently the group arranged the loan of Roy Lichtenstein’s 30-foot-high sculpture Brushstrokes, installed next to MacMillan Hall in December. In the summer of 2004, Alexander Calder’s Tripe by will be installed on Brown’s front green.

The Art on Campus Program was inaugurated last year with the placement of three sculptures on campus. To Tallness, an 11-foot-high, stone sculpture by Japanese-American artist Isamu Noguchi, was installed on The College Green; David Nash’s burned wood Box Cross is on the lawn outside List Art Center; and the colorful Metallic Brushstroke Head by Roy Lichtenstein is in the lobby of the Watson Institute of International Studies. Lent by the artist or the artist’s foundation, each of these works will be on display for two to three years.

For more information, call 401-863-3993.


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