Sandro Chia, the Italian artist who emerged as a young powerhouse in the 1980s New York art scene, only to move to Tuscany to operate a vineyard with his son, is now represented by Marc Straus, the internationally minded gallery on the Lower East Side. His first solo show in New York in decades will take place at the gallery in February 2017.
After emerging from Italy as one of the leaders of the Transavanguardia, a movement that included artists such as Francesco Clemente and Enzo Cucchi, Chia had his first New York solo show in January 1980. Gian Enzo Perone, the dealer based in Turin and Rome, met him while scouting Transavanguardia artists to show at his new Manhattan space with the New York dealer Angela Westwater. As Chia recalled to Anthony Haden-Guest in True Colors, he figured the show would be good for the gallery’s curriculum, but in terms of sales, a dud. Instead, it sold out completely.
After staying in New York and showing at a number of the city’s leading galleries, his stock faded toward the end of the decade, and by the early 2000s, he packed up and moved to Montalcino, Italy, and started Castello Romitoria, a vineyard based out of a 12th-century fortress of the same name. (Wine Spectator called Castello Romitoria’s Brunello a “cult favorite.”)
But the wine-making did not deter his practice, and he continued producing work out of studios in Tuscany and Miami. In 2015, serendipity struck: the directors at Marc Straus spotted Chia on the other side of Grand Street from the gallery, and went out to introduce themselves. After several visits to see the new work, the gallery decided to bring him back to the art world.
“To see his new work was thrilling and a privilege,” Marc Straus director Ken Tan said in an email. “Soon we agreed that the works must be spoken for.”
The gallery compared the new arrangement to its representation of Hermann Nitsch, the 77-year-old German artist who had a solo show at Marc Straus last year. As Tan said, they are both “artists whose art have historical importance, but for some reason did not get the right attention.”