Urgent Museum Notice

Mirella Bentivoglio

Close-up black and white photo of an older woman with light skin and cropped hair. She holds up two small, speckled eggs to her eyes, the right one just visible. She sits in a bright, sun-lit room, a window on her right and wears a dark blazer and wrist watch.

Photo courtesy of the artist

1922–2017

Born in Klagenfurt, Austria, to Italian parents, Bentivoglio grew up in Milan. Her linguistic studies in Switzerland and London were interrupted by World War II, and during this period, she used her father’s extensive library as a home-based university.

Unlike most poets, Bentivoglio presents poetry “liberated” from the traditional printed page. The artist played with words, breaks rules of syntax, detaches words from phrases, and isolates letters from words. The results of these experiments—concrete and visual poems—are perceived as symbols and metaphors. She also created unique artists’ books, often made from unusual materials such as marble, wood, metal, and earth, and published limited-edition portfolios. She was a renowned sculptor and performance artist.

She curated many exhibitions of work by women artists in Italy and all over the world, and for the artist’s 90th birthday, the National Gallery of Contemporary Art in Rome organized a retrospective exhibition of her work.

Artist Details

  • Name

    Mirella Bentivoglio
  • Birth

    Klagenfurt, Austria, 1922
  • Death

    Rome, Italy, 2017
  • Phonetic Spelling

    mee-REH-lah behn-tee-VOH-lyoh

Works by Mirella Bentivoglio

To Malherbe

To Malherbe (À Malherbe) is dedicated to the French renaissance poet François de Malherbe, whose famous poem, “Consolation á M. Du Périer” deals with the death of Du Périer’s young daughter Marguerite. The brevity of her life is compared to that of a rose: “Et rose elle a vécu ce que vivent les roses/ L’espace d’un matin” (A rose, she has lived...

An open book with an egg nestled in the spine, all made of rose-colored onyx. An insciption in French painted in black at the bottom reads,