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Maurizio Vetrugno

An avid surfer and fashion enthusiast, a restless traveler drawn to the East, Maurizio Vetrugno eagerly shuttles between suitcases, yearning to return to his tranquil Val di Susa. For the past few years, Vetrugno has experienced a magical moment: his tapestries resonate with discerning collectors, both Italian and international, who appreciate the glamour of the 1970s and the clever references to the 1950s. Nearly two decades ago, Vetrugno foreshadowed the embroidery technique that is now in vogue (think of artists like Ghada Amer, Eva Marisaldi, and Francesco Vezzoli), using needle and thread to translate computer tabulations into a domestic practice.

After studying at the Dams in Bologna and attending philosophy classes in Turin, Vetrugno emerged in the Turin art scene with a series of paintings that blend pop art with conceptual premises. He also travels extensively, splitting his time between London, where he immersed himself in punk fashion, and New York, where he mingled with East Village graffiti artists.

At the heart of his artistic philosophy lies the fusion of avant-garde thinking with images and passions from mass culture. In the late 1980s, he transformed himself into a rockstar in a photographic series while simultaneously exploring fashion as fetish through installations featuring shoes as sculptures and experimental garments that never made it into production. Vetrugno also dabbles in design, incorporating objects with strong sociological connotations and reflective of current tastes—such as Isamu Noguchi’s iconic paper lamp.

As a theorist, essayist, and scholar of street styles—those spontaneous expressions of youth culture not yet co-opted by industry—Vetrugno discovered his own Orient in the mid-1990s. He fell in love with hidden paradises untouched by mass tourism. In Bali, he surfs—an almost Zen-like discipline for him, blending psychology with an embrace of the unpredictability of the waves.

His regular encounters with distant worlds led Vetrugno to pivot in his current artistic direction. In northern Thailand, near the Laos border, he encountered traditional and highly skilled embroiderers. Inspired, he decided to merge this ancient craft with the graphic design of 33 RPM vinyl record covers—a reflection of Western taste from the 1950s and 1970s, both marked by a strong inclination toward linguistic experimentation.

From Mina to Frank Sinatra, from Elvis Presley to Captain Beefheart, from David Bowie to Lou Reed—the icons of post-war cocktail lounge style, characterized by sophistication and innocence, and the glossy glam rock figures of the 1970s—all appear as key figures transformed from mere tools of mass culture into veritable works of art, transcending temporal boundaries.

These tapestries, resembling old vinyl record covers, fall into two main categories: the first focuses on experimental graphics, tending toward abstraction, while the second draws from popular Hollywood and rock music imagery. These colorful threads, magically suspended in time, weave together tradition and contemporary expressions of art and communication.

In Maurizio Vetrugno’s poetic universe, objects, embroidery, paintings, installations, videos, and sculptures all intersect, connected by the artist’s interpretation of meaning. His work draws inspiration from distant realms—punk rock, religion, blasphemy, mathematics, sociology—resulting in a rich tapestry of aesthetic and semantic relationships, guided by Vetrugno’s delicate and light touch. From October 2020 to July 2021, he participated in the Rome Quadriennale exhibition ‘FUORI’ with an extensive installation of his works in dialogue with his collections of high-fashion jewelry and ancient Chinese glass: for the first time, they were exhibited together, revealing the ongoing interplay and relevance between the collector’s practice and the artist’s within his research

Feel free to explore more about Maurizio Vetrugno’s fascinating artistic journey!  

PERSONAL

2013

ABC – Art Berlin Contemporary, 2013 – Nature Morte Gallery, Berlin

2012

“Love, Commas and Asterisks” – Blum&Poe Gallery, Los Angeles, Usa

2011

“Lead Baloon” – Chiesa della Maddalena, Alba, Italy

“Meteorite in Giardino” – Fondazione Merz, Torino, Italy

2008

“Les Paramours” – Photo&Contemporary, Turin, Italy

2005

“Saints and Sinners” – Carbone.to, Torino, Italy.

2003

“Sound Threads” – Carbone.to, Torino, Italy.

“Part false part true” – Ministero del Gusto, Marrakesh, Morocco

2002

“The Shitinous Ensemble” – Neon Project Box, Milano, Italy

2001

“Part False Part True, Like Anything”” – Galleria San Filippo, Torino, Italy.

1999

“Between the Buttons” – Carbone.to, Torino, Italy

“La grande acqua” – Arcate dei Murazzi, Torino, Italy

“Qi” – Galleria Neon, Bologna, Italy

1997

Galerie Blancpain Stepczynski, Genève, CH

1996

“Prendere nota” – Galleria Neon, Bologna, Italy

1995

“Electricity Comes from Other Planets” – Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Arcate dei Murazzi, Torino, Italy

“Crickets” – Galleria The Box, Torino, Italy

“Wear me” – Theoretical Events, Napoli, Italy

Galleria S.A.L.E.S., Roma, Italy

1994

“Speed” – Galleria Artra, Milano, Italy

1990

“Maurizio Vetrugno” – Galleria Franz Paludett0, Turin, Italy

1989

“Maurizio Vetrugno” – Castello di Rivara-Centro d’Arte Contemporanea

COLLECTIVE

2014

BAM Biennale d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea del Piemonte 2014 – L’Imbiancheria del Vajro, Turin, Italy

“Portable” – Biasa Art Space, Bali, Indonesia

“Preziosa Opera” – Villa Scalcabrozzi, Valenza, Italy

“Shit and Die” – Palazzo Cavour, Turin, Italy

2013

“Emphatism” – Studio 522, New York, USA

“Pesca alla Trota in America” – Guido Costa Project Torino, Italy

“Poses and Views” – Nature Morte Berlin, Berlin, Germany

2012

“Il Perturbante” – Guido Costa Project, Torino, Italy

2011

“What’s so funny about peace, love and understanding?” – Rossi & Rossi Contemporary, London, UK

2010

“Like a Rolling Stone” – Novalis Contemporary Art, Turin, Italy

“Godot never came” – Novalis Contemporary Art, Turin, Italy

2009

“Very late at night” – Neon Campobase, Bologna, Italy

2008

“Questo mondo è fantastico. Vent’anni con Guido Carbone” – Palazzo Bricherasio, Turin, Italy

2007

“Rebel” – Galleria Colombari, Milano, Italy

2006

Senza Famiglia – Promotrice delle Belle Arti, Torino, Italy

“Sound and Vision” – Palazzo delle Penne, Perugia, Italy

2005

“Aperto per lavori in cors”o – PAC, Milano, Italy

2003

ManifesTO – GAM (Galleria d’Arte Moderna di Torino) and the Town Council of Torino, Italy

“Il racconto del filo. Ricamo e cucito nell’arte contemporanea” – MART, Museo d’Arte Contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto, Italy

“Melting Pop” – Palazzo delle Papesse, Siena, Italy

2001

“Le Forme della Luce” – Centrale A. Volta, Montalto di Castro, Italy.

1998

“Artenergie” – Palazzo Corsini, Firenze, Italy

“Ultime Generazioni” – XII Quadriennale, Palazzo Esposizioni, Roma, Italy

“Doppia Visione I e II” – Galleria Neon, Bologna, Italy

“Qualsiasi cosa vi venga in mente” – Galleria Fac Simile, Milano, Italy

1995

“Il giovane ospite” – Casa di Giorgione, Castel Franco Veneto, Venezia, Italy

“Konrad Lorenz’s Duck” – Ex Lanificio Bona, Carignano, Torino, Italy

Galleria Moncada, Roma, Italy

1994

“Soggetto Soggetto” – Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Rivoli, Torino, Italy

“L’invasione degli ultra piccoli” – Galleria Transepoca, Milano, Italy

“My Car Is White and Yours is Black” – Galerie UDP, Brno, Czechoslovakia

“Trofei” – Galleria S.A.L.E.S., Roma, Italy

1993

“Il gioco del vento e della luna” – Galleria Neon, Bologna, Italy

“Il rock è duro” – Galleria Santandrea, Savona; Galleria Tossi, Prato, Italy

“Maurizi” – Depot, Bologna, Italy

1991

Galleria Transepoca, Milano, Italy

“The Rules of The Game” – Galleria Salvartore Ala, New York; Center for Contemporary Art, Pittsburg, USA

“Al nord ItaliA” – Circolo di Palazzo Giovine, Alba, Cuneo; Galleria Transepoca, Milano; Galerie Blancpain Stepczynshi, Genève, CH

1990

“Ipotesi di Arte giovane” – Palazzo del Vapore, Milano, Italy

1989

Galleria Nova, Roma, Italy

Kirchoff / Satprakash / Vetrugno – Castello di Rivara, Torino, Italy

1988

“La cometa della ragione” – Galleria Carbone, Torin

1987

“Spunti di Giovane arte Italiana” – Studio Corrado Levi, Milano, Italy; Galeria Buades, Madrid; Galeria Palau Soleric, Mallorca, Spain

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