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Tommaso Calabro Gallery in Milan is currently showing “Casa Iolas. Citofonare Vezzoli” (Villa Iolas. Please Dial Vezzoli), an exhibition dedicated to the Greek art gallerist Alexander Iolas and curated by artist Francesco Vezzoli.
Iolas was one of the most important art dealers of the second half of the 20th century and one of the first gallerists to create an international network of galleries. He encountered art for the first time in Paris and started devoting exhibitions to some of the most important Surrealist artists of his era in 1945, while working at the Hugo Gallery in New York. Iolas rapidly opened his own space in 1955 with former dancer Brooks Jackson, the Jackson-Iolas Gallery, and later opened an international network of galleries.
In the 1970s, Iolas opened a house in Athens where he staged his vast art collection. Across the many rooms what was called Villa Iolas, ancient Greek, Egyptian, Roman, Byzantine and Oriental antiquities were displayed alongside paintings and sculptures by the most important Modern masters. Following the gallerist’s death in 1987, the Villa Iolas was vandalized, abandoned, and forgotten, and most of his art collection was sold or dispersed.
“Casa Iolas. Citofonare Vezzoli” reimagines the lost rooms of Iolas’ legendary space through a theatrical setup and fosters the rediscovery of a key figure in the post-war art world through the eyes of Vezzoli. The show explores Iolas’ life and his multifaceted personality by exhibiting several artists he supported, such as Victor Brauner, Niki de Saint Phalle, Max Ernst, Lucio Fontana, Yves Klein, René Magritte, Man Ray, Martial Raysse, and more. By turning the gallery’s rooms into those of Villa Iolas, Vezzoli weaves a dialogue with Iolas’ universe, as he placed some of his own sculptures in the exhibition path and three new embroideries created for the occasion.