Mirella Bentivoglio

Mirella Bentivoglio


Artist Details

Birth Place
Klagenfurt, Austria
Phonetic Spelling
mee-REH-lah behn-tee-VOH-lyoh
Books and manuscripts; Performance Art; Photography; Sculpture
Places of Residence
NMWA Exhibitions

Bound to Amaze: Inside a Book-Collecting Career, 2018
25 x 25: Artists’ Books from the NMWA Collection, 2012
Trove: The Collection in Depth, 2011
Hard Copy: Book as Sculpture, 2009–10
The Book as Art: Twenty Years of Artists’ Books from the National Museum of Women in the Arts, 2006-2007
Book as Art XV, 2004
Insomnia: Landscapes of the Night, 2003
Book as Art XII: Artists’ Books from the Permanent Collection, 2000
The Visual Poetry of Mirella Bentivoglio, 1999
Book as Art VI, 1993–94
Book as Art V, 1992–93
Book as Art IV, 1990–91
Book as Art III, 1990
Book as Art I, 1987

About the Artist

Mirella Bentivoglio is known for her exploration of the relationship between image and word. “Language is not only bureaucracy and power,” she explained, “it belongs to history, where woman had a large part. It is the woman who gives language to the human being in his first years of existence.”

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.

National Museum of Women in the Arts