TO SEPT. 13

With artisanal traditions that stretch back centuries, Italians believe in doing things right by doing them the way they’ve always been done (not a blanket statement, just a hasty generalization I picked up from spaghetti-factory radio ads). I also heard (just after learning of the unlimited salad special) that Italians know how to relax and enjoy life; dolce far niente should yield to dolce far un po’ only when no better alternative presents itself. And Italians have a love of learning, what with all those venerable universities dotting the land and ignorance having passed from fashion with neorealist cinema. “America: Examples of Contemporary Art From an Italian Capital” has little use for the myth of the struggling young artist; the equally tiresome figure of the comfortable late-careerist, of which it has found eight worthy exemplars, is better suited to its mission—that the Piedmontese capital of Turin is blessed with tidy flowerings of official culture, none of which would raise eyebrows in an upscale department-store lounge or the bar of a three-star hotel. An industrial powerhouse, the Piedmont also has a tradition of dashing modern design, and none of the listlessly accomplished “art” holds a candle to the two Olivetti typewriters also on display—not the post-cubist formalism of Giacomo Soffiantino, not the lyrical abstraction of Adriana Baitone Ravera, and certainly not the tabletop bronze abstractions of Riccardo Cordero (whose Chakra is pictured), unceremoniously pressed into service as bookracks holding another artist’s catalogs. The exhibition is on view from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday, to Friday, Sept. 13, at Instituto Italiano di Cultura, 2025 M St. NW, Suite 610. Free. (202) 223-9800. (Glenn Dixon)

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