Vincenzo Agnetti (1926–1981) was born in Milan and lived in Italy for most of his life. He graduated from the Brera Academy in Milan and attended the Piccolo Teatro school. In 1962 Agnetti moved to Argentina, where he worked in the field of technological automation. After a brief but formative stop-over in New York, Agnetti returned to Italy in 1967. Although he kept in touch with his artistic peers in Milan during his years abroad, little remains of his artistic output before this period. Agnetti began working in Art Informel and poetry at an early age and contributed to the journal Azimuth, which was founded by Enrico Castellani and Piero Manzoni and remains a key document of the Italian avant-garde at the dawn of the 1960s. Later in that decade, Agnetti exhibited his Macchina Drogata in Milan against the backdrop of student protests across Europe. This social tumult formed an opportune ground against which Agnetti pursued his deconstruction of language and power. Continuing this practice into the 1970s, Agnetti worked prolifically to explore the possibilities of language as both a foundation and a material for art-making. He emerged as one of the most significant conceptual artists in Italy. The material rigor of his work forged an important link between the itinerant international circuit of Conceptual art and the emergent Arte Povera context. A lifelong writer, Agnetti wrote expansive criticism as well as analysis of his own work.
Solo exhibitions and surveys of Agnetti’s work have been presented at Palazzo Serbelloni, Milan (2016), Museo D’Arte Contemporanea Villa Croce, Genova (2013), Centro Italiano Arte Contemporanea, Foligno (2012), and MART, Museo di Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto (2013). Among many other group exhibitions, Agnetti’s work was included in Documenta 5 (1972), and four Venice Biennales (1995, 1993, 1978, and 1976).