Pietro Consagra, Matacubi, Nilufar Depot, Milano, 2021, ph. Mattia Iotti
Pietro Consagra, Matacubo, 2003, painted iron, 70x113x32,5 cm


Pietro Consagra, Matacubo, 1985, painted iron, 54×164,3×38 cm
Pietro Consagra, Matacubo, 1985, painted iron, 54×164,3×38 cm

7 September – 27 November 2021

Nilufar presents MATACUBI BY PIETRO CONSAGRA curated by Nina Yashar with Luca Massimo Barbero in collaboration with the Archivio Pietro Consagra. Exhibition design by Ruggero Moncada di Paternò.

Nina Yashar unveils a new journey into the world of art in the spaces of Nilufar Depot. The exhibition, which is curated together with Luca Massimo Barbero, introduces the public for the first time to a unique series of sculptural works of great current relevance by Pietro Consagra (1920-2005). Nine Matacubi – object-sculptures created from 1985 onwards by Consagra, one of the most prestigious exponents of international abstractionism – will be shown in the large atrium of Nilufar Depot. The artist’s works are in the collections of the most important museums around the world, including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice, MoMA in New York, the National Gallery in Washington, the Hermitage in St Petersburg, the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna in Rome, and the Musée d’Art Moderne Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris.

The exhibition, which has been organised in collaboration with the Archivio Pietro Consagra, with a display installation by Ruggero Moncada di Paternò, illustrates a series of works “with rounded, sensual forms that unfold in a way that invites two or three people to sit down, creating a direct and immediate playful interaction with the viewer.” This is how Gabriella Di Milia, director of the Archivio Pietro Consagra, describes the series of Matacubi, and she also reveals the origin of their name: “The artist chose the term ‘matacubo’, which in the Sicilian dialect refers to very compact, often bulky objects, as the paradoxical title of bewitching works made of marble or painted iron, which can also be viewed an alternatives to benches.” 

It is this dual aspect of both sculpture and potentially functional object – since it can be used for sitting on – that reveals the extraordinarily contemporary nature of these works. “The Matacubo”, in Luca Massimo Barbero’s words, “appears not only with its vernacular name, with its bulky, sensually demanding being, but it is also a rediscovery of the origins, of what life really is, of what the object is, and of what it means to feel it in its physical essence, while also discovering the surprising variety of its materials. The Matacubi are objects and also sculptures, and their ambiguity is their richness. They are where the horizon, gravity, the plane and three-dimensional ramifications, but also so-called frontal sculpture, all come together. What we see in the Matacubi is not what is there, for they have a twofold soul. On the one hand they give pleasure to the eye and, on the other, once they are removed from their pedestals, they become a seat to touch and experience.”

This exhibition all started with a visit to the Archivio Pietro Consagra – during which Nina Yashar was particularly struck by the Matacubi: “works whose beauty enrapture, but also objects with a function. On the one hand, they convey a sort of reverential apprehension, reflecting the artist’s strict, disciplined approach, while on the other they entice us into a relationship with them, a tactile, physical relationship, in which the forms invite us to interact with them.”

Exhibiting these works on her own premises, Nina Yashar says: “I’m happy to think that Pietro Consagra might have wished for his sculptures to be placed in domestic settings, and not just in institutional places and museums.”

The installation also gave the curators and Patricia Urquiola, Martino Gamper and Brigitte Niedermair an opportunity for a conversation, captured in a video produced by Olympìque.

A limited-edition catalogue will be presented at the exhibition, under the title “Matacubi di Pietro Consagra“, edited by Luca Massimo Barbero, in a dialogue with Gabriella Di Milia and Nina Yashar, and in collaboration with the Archivio Pietro Consagra. Published in English and Italian by Marsilio Editori, it will be available at the Nilufar Gallery and at Nilufar Depot, as well as in bookshops throughout Italy.

The sculpture by Pietro Consagra, “Stella di Gibellina”, 1980, polished brass, 18.1 x 20.5 x 1.5 cm and polished brass base 0.8 x 18 x 4.5 cm, will also be available at the Nilufar spaces and on the new e-commerce site They form a limited edition, numbered in 25 Roman numerals, from the artist’s collection.