Carol Rama, Italian self-taught painter, died at 97

  Dead Famous

Carol Rama, born Olga Carolina Rama on April 17, 1918 and died September 25, 2015.

Carol was an Italian self-taught artist whose unconventional painting encompassed an erotic, and often sexually aggressive universe populated by characters who present themes of sexual identity with specific references to female sensuality.

Her work was relatively little known until curator Lea Virgine included several pieces in a 1980 exhibition, prompting Rama to revisit her earlier watercolour style.

Carol was born in Turin to Marta née Pugliara and bicycle manufacturer Amabile Rama.

When she was 15, her mother was admitted to a psychiatric clinic.

Her father was bankrupt and committed suicide. As a young unmarried woman in fascist Italy, at 21 years of age, Rama was already creating images that were challenging state censorship.

Her first exhibition in 1945 at Galleria Faber was shut down by the Turin police.

Carol early works were watercolour paintings and beginning in the 1950s she began incorporating objects such as hypodermic syringes and small mechanical parts into her art. In the 1960s, her primary material became strips of rubber from tyres.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, she had connections with filmmakers Luis Buñuel and Orson Welles as well as the visual artists Man Ray and Andy Warhol.

“I didn’t think I had the qualities for becoming an artist,” Carol Rama told SAST Report in an interview, and continued with describing the view she had of the contemporary art scene: “Beautiful women, prima donnas, beautiful people who speak several different languages, sitting and being charming.”

At the 50th Venice Biennale in 2003, Rama was presented with the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement.

The following year Carol had a retrospective at the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo in her birthplace of Turin.

Carol Rama died at age 97 on September 25, 2015.