Scheda libro

Leo & C.

Storia di Leo Castelli

  • Author: Annie Cohen Solal
  • Year: 2010
  • Language: Italian
  • Pages: 463
  • Price: 33.00 €
  • ISBN: 978-88-60100-44-3
  • Size: cm 15.5 x 23
  • Illustrations: 67 b/w
  • Finish: Arcoprint edizioni

Leo Castelli insisted that he was not an art dealer but a gallery owner. For his artists he was a lot more: a patron of the arts.

From the opening of his first gallery in 1957 to his death in 1999, Castelli dominated the cultural life of New York and elevated the status of the American artist, which came to dominate the international artistic panorama during those years. The figure of the multifaceted gallery owner was born with him. A businessman and tireless explorer in constant pursuit of new discoveries, he was ready to run risks and use the most effective commercial strategies in order to make his protégés known. Together with Ileana Sonnabend, his former wife and close ally, Castelli encouraged budding talents and championed their cause with museums. Through a vast network of international relations he reinvented the rules of the art market and revolutionized the artistic culture. The discovery of Jasper Johns, his “hero”, and the triumph of Robert Rauschenberg at the 1964 Venice Biennial were just two of his early successes followed by a host of other revelations – including Frank Stella, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, James Rosenquist and Cy Twombly – that confirm his role as a creator of legends.

But who was Leo Castelli, the man who waited fifty years to open his first gallery? A man of multiple identities is concealed behind the charisma of an affable, media-friendly European. Born in Trieste in 1907 to Jewish parents, he spent his first thirty years in major European cities such as Vienna, Milan, Budapest, Bucharest and Paris. His professional trajectory began with a daring flight to the New World to escape the dramatic political and social context of the Nazi racial laws and the horrors that were to follow.

Annie Cohen-Solal embeds the roots of her biography in the distant past of the Castelli family, tracing their ancestors in the Tuscany of the Renaissance and reconstructing a history rife with persecutions, wars, breaks and upheavals that shows surprising similarities with the family’s more recent past and Leo’s own life. By an ironic twist of fate, a man who was always reticent about his Jewish identity found in the Jewish Museum, after the MoMA, the institution that was to consecrate him as a champion of the great American movements – from Pop Art to Conceptual Art – that are the formidable legacy of Leo Castelli.

  • About the author
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Annie Cohen-Solal, born in Algeria, obtained a doctorate in French literature at the Sorbonne. The author of the biography Sartre: A Life (1986), she has taught at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris and at the universities of Berlin, Jerusalem, Paris (13) and Caen. She is currently visiting professor at the Tisch School of the Arts (New York University), where she holds seminars on cultural policy and the globalization of the visual arts. She arrived in New York in 1989 as cultural advisor at the French embassy and was prompted by a meeting with Leo Castelli to develop an interest in contemporary art. The French edition of Leo & C. was awarded the Artcurial Prize for the best book on contemporary art in 2010. She spends her time between New York, Paris and Cortona.


Prologo. Nato su una polveriera

Europa 1907-1945 Persecuzioni, guerre, rotture, spostamenti

1. Alla Loggia dei Mercanti

2. Sul molo San Carlo

3. Entra in scena Ernesto Krausz

4. Gli anni del miracolo triestino

5. Nell’isola felice di Hietzing. Vienna, Prima guerra mondiale

6. I baffi finti dell’imperatore: 1918-1925

7. L’irresistibile ascesa di Ernesto Krausz

8. Avere vent’anni in pieno fascismo

9. Bucarest: primo incontro con le avanguardie

10. Tra Neuilly e place Vendôme

11. L’esodo rocambolesco verso gli Stati Uniti

12. Il ritorno a Bucarest. L’esordio della Guerra fredda

New York 1946-1956 Gli anni della metamorfosi

13. Al moma, di soppiatto

14. Verso il Nuovo Mondo

15. Arbitro tra Parigi e New York

16. Risolve o balla il tango?

17. Tra Pollock e de Kooning: apre la galleria?

Il leader assoluto dell’arte americana: 1957-1998

18. New York, il polo magnetico

19. Colpo da maestro: l’epifania di Jasper

20. Il moto perpetuo dell’innovazione. «Scoprire un genio alla settimana!»

21. Gli anni di Alan Solomon

22. “La Biennale dei Beatles”

23. L’adolescente bohémien e il folletto dispettoso

24. Alla conquista dell’Europa

25. Castelli, “eminenza grigia del Pop”?

26. “La mostra di Henry”

27. La “rete Castelli” come casa Savoia

28. SoHo, la Terra Promessa a sud di Houston Street

29. “Bad times for Leo”

30. Omaggi e onori: Castelli entra nella Storia

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