Giosetta Fioroni (b.1932, Rome) is considered one of the most important figures in Italian painting of the postwar era. Her work is commonly associated with the Scuola di Piazza del Popolo group in Rome, which also included Mario Schifano, Tano Festa and Franco Angeli, among others, as well as with the advent of Pop art in Italy. Yet Fioroni’s practice differs from those of her immediate contemporaries and from the overarching notion of Pop as it came to be understood in the English-speaking world. The divergences are most clearly pronounced in her persistent exploration of femininity, rooted in both her personal experiences and her interpretation of the category in popular culture. ‘I have worked a lot, not on feminism but on femininity’, she once explained. ‘I would like to maintain a distinction. In a period of lively feminism, I was interested in the look, in the atmosphere tied to femininity.’
Fioroni’s portraits of women from the 1960s focus on the familiar expressions of interpersonal exchange characteristic of the photographic representation of young actresses and models in the mass media. While many of these portraits were realised initially as photographs that attempted to communicate a sense of seduction or vulnerability, or even the erasure of emotional expression altogether, Fioroni’s paintings of these same images venture to redeem something of the person depicted. They capture, in her words, ‘passing emotions’, moments when ‘a detail, a gesture, or a look in the eye’ reveals the distance created by mechanisms of enhanced visibility – and thus compensate for the ephemeral nature of the photographic, projected or painted encounter.