Libri di Irene Inserra - libri Johan & Levi Editore

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Irene Inserra

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Johan & Levi

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It is 1947, Han van Meegeren went on trial for high treason, accused of having sold a piece of Dutch cultural heritage to Nazi bigwig Hermann Göring during the war. He risked execution, even though the “Vermeer” in question was one he painted himself. Nobody believed him. To prove it, he was asked to make a copy right there and then. Van Meegeren’s contemptuous response was not long in coming: “In all my career, I have never painted a copy! But I will paint you a new Vermeer. I’ll paint you a masterpiece!” The psychological motivations that prompt such a brilliant hand to commit this kind of crime are incredibly varied: simple money-making speculation, anger at the artistic establishment, or to bamboozle so-called expert eyes... While copying the works of the great masters has long been a widespread custom, some have continued to practice it not just out of simple pleasure but to provoke, earning the self-satisfaction of men who measure themselves against the giants of art history. Noah Charney takes us on an adventurous expedition through history, psychology and science, revealing the dramas and intrigues that surround the most famous art forgeries: from Marcantonio Raimondi’s “non-original copies” of Dürer to the golden goblet made by master goldsmith Reinhold Vasters, which ended up at the Metropolitan as a work by Benvenuto Cellini, to Wolfgang Beltracchi, a true genius of the scam, who created an incalculable number of counterfeit masterpieces, and even starred in his own successful documentary. The public, after all, is always fascinated by these shady characters, especially when criminals often pass themselves off as heroes. With their shadowy charm, consumed by the hubris of rewriting history, forgers create perfect deceptions to prove their own brilliance. Which, in many cases, truly exists.
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L'arte del falso

Noah Charney

publisher: Johan & Levi

pages: 293 pages

It is 1947, Han van Meegeren went on trial for high treason, accused of having sold a piece of Dutch cultural heritage to Nazi bigwig Hermann Göring during the war. He risked execution, even though the “Vermeer” in question was one he painted himself. Nobody believed him. To prove it, he was asked to make a copy right there and then. Van Meege
Imagine a space designed to host all of the works of art lost to us. Such a place would be by far the most immense museum on earth, where masterpieces of every era would be displayed side by side, indeed more than the number of works in all the collections now on earth put together. Greek and Roman statues would stand beside Byzantine icons and paintings burned in Savonarola’s bonfires alongside thousands of works confiscated and destroyed by the Nazis and monuments reduced to dust by ISIS militants. First of all, however, it would compile a complete catalogue of the motives for which art disappears from circulation – theft or bombardment, natural catastrophe or shipwreck, vandalism or even the artist’s own hand rejecting his work or programming its decay, as certain Land Art works designed to be consumed by time and the elements. A museum of this sort would serve as a warning, a tangible image of the transient nature of all human creations. Emblematic of this curious aspect of art history are the ill-fated adventures of paintings such as Courbet’s The Stone Breakers, rescued along with other treasures from a tower of the castle in Dresden only moments before the castle was bombed to the ground by Allied forces, or the mysterious fate of works stolen from the Stuart Gardner collection and never seen again. On the other hand, there are happier stories such as that of a de Kooning stolen from a museum and found thirty years later hanging in a suburban bedroom or that of the spectacular gold mosaics covering Santa Sophia in Istanbul today which had previously lain hidden under white plaster for four hundred years. Finally, where luck or investigation has been unable to find lost works, today we have science. Thus, thanks to X-rays and other sophisticated technologies, lost masterpieces by Goya, Picasso and Malevich have been discovered under successive layers of paint. Noah Charney suggests that these episodes open a window of hope, reminding us that everything is not lost, not forever. The vast repertoire of belated discoveries, miraculous rescues and unexpected recognition of works whose identity had long been obscure serves to confirm that saying “lost” is like saying “waiting to be brought back to light”.
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Il museo dell'arte perduta

Noah Charney

publisher: Johan & Levi

pages: 296 pages

Imagine a space designed to host all of the works of art lost to us. Such a place would be by far the most immense museum on earth, where masterpieces of every era would be displayed side by side, indeed more than the number of works in all the collections now on earth put together. Greek and Roman statues would stand beside Byzantine icons and pai
Surrealism developed after the First World War, initially as a lifestyle rather than an actual artistic movement. Angered by an establishment that had made that massacre possible, the Surrealists came up with an unconscious strategy able to free humanity from the ties of reason and aesthetic conventions, restoring a central role to the dimension of dreams and eroticism through psychic automatism. From 1924 onwards, André Breton, the main theorist behind this doctrine, controlled the reins of an insolent group of intellectuals for over forty years. With its break-ups, mutinies and expulsions, this was one of the most fascinating and troubled artistic experiences of the 20th century. Desmond Morris held his first Surrealist solo exhibition in 1948. While he soon went on to become one of the most famous science writers of his generation, he frequented the irresistible personalities whose adventures are described here for many years. They included Roberto Matta, who had the name of the Marquis de Sade branded on him to find favour with Breton; Giacometti who turned down Marlene Dietrich (and her forty-four suitcases) for a prostitute, Caroline Tamagno, who was well-known in the Parisian underworld; Miró and Masson, forced by Hemingway to take one another on in a disastrous boxing match; Salvador Dalí in a diving suit, billiard cue at the ready and two greyhounds on the lead, as he performs in front of hundreds of journalists at the International Surrealist Exhibition of 1936. Thirty-two eccentric stories that wind their way through the bistros of the ville lumière and the most incongruous places, such as London Zoo, before finally arriving in New York, where the first seeds of Abstract Expressionism begin to be sown. Following the kaleidoscopic proliferations of Surrealism embodied by extremely diverse artists, including Max Ernst, Picasso, Delvaux and Duchamp, Morris celebrates the intensity, delirium and mystery that, as Magritte would say, “cannot be explained, you just have to let it envelop you.”
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Le vite dei surrealisti

Desmond Morris

publisher: Johan & Levi

pages: 272 pages

Surrealism developed after the First World War, initially as a lifestyle rather than an actual artistic movement. Angered by an establishment that had made that massacre possible, the Surrealists came up with an unconscious strategy able to free humanity from the ties of reason and aesthetic conventions, restoring a central role to the dimension of
Looking round the rooms of the retrospective show put on in his honour in 1980, just three weeks before his death, Philip Guston observed that it wasn’t just a simple exhibition, it was a whole life’s experience. Night Studio, published by his daughter eight years later, is an account of a life lived: it is the bitter-sweet account of a reconciliation and an attempt to enter the world of a father for whom art was an act of intense egoism. Bringing together personal memories, but also the letters and notes of Philip Guston, as well as interviews with those who knew him, the author puts together a private history that starts in New York of the 1930s, where his parents had moved following a promising start as muralists. Thanks to the benefits of the New Deal, a lively community of artists grew up obsessed with the idea of purity in painting which hit the headlines in the fifties as the School of New York. Guston, ever in search of a language that was completely his and sceptical of the illusions of art for art’s sake, came late to non-objective painting: his lyrical vocabulary and voluptuous brush-strokes gave him a degree of fame, confirmed by a retrospective at the Guggenheim as early as 1962. But in the end, objects prevailed. In 1968, following a paralysing creative block, the forms that had accumulated and been denied for so long took shape in a cascade of images – first simple objects from everyday life, then enigmatic and cartoon-like figures – judged intolerable by the same art world that had elevated him. The world he had felt ever more impatient with now disgusted him so much that he left New York and took refuge in Woodstock where he settled permanently with his wife, Musa McKim. In this moving autobiographical fresco, accompanied by a broad selection of colour works and personal photographs, Musa Mayer takes us through her father’s artistic and life’s journey also acknowledging the role of her reserved and elusive mother, a woman who chose to take a step back in respect of her own aspirations to follow the changeable moods and need for freedom that are typical of every great artist.
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Night Studio

Un ritratto intimo di Philip Guston

Musa Mayer

publisher: Johan & Levi

pages: 292 pages

Looking round the rooms of the retrospective show put on in his honour in 1980, just three weeks before his death, Philip Guston observed that it wasn’t just a simple exhibition, it was a whole life’s experience. Night Studio, published by his daughter eight years later, is an account of a life lived: it is the bitter-sweet account of a reconci
Yves Klein (Nice, 1928 – Paris, 1962) knew he was a revolutionary. A warrior of the art world with a tendency to challenge the frontiers of matter and time, he was always reaching "beyond" the limits of things. An intensely spiritual Knight of the Holy Grail with the intrepid, irreverent verve of Tintin. His oeuvre embodies the artistic currents of the first half of the twentieth century and anticipates the major themes of the avant-garde of the 1960s and 1970s, breaking through the boundaries of existing art and announcing a new way forward.What he called his Blue Revolution was a breakthrough destined to put an end to the era of Matter and launch that of Space, and Yves le Monochrome, Conqueror of the Void, was its self-proclaimed Messenger and Upholder, not to mention the official Owner of the colour (namely Klein Blue). He is known for his audacious feats: "Le Vide", an exhibition in a metaphysically empty gallery which sold immaterial art for its weight in gold, to throw in the Seine, and the photo of the famous Leap, which shows him mid swan dive from the ledge of a building in Paris, not falling but embracing the void. His was not a descent but an ascent from the physical world to that of the spirit, which became reality when he met with an early death after seven years of brilliant work.Drawing on the vivid accounts of those who knew him, this book captures the bold spirit of a contradictory artist, a painter and anti-painter whose passion and genius embraced a cultural heritage spanning Bachelard and Heindel, Jung and the Rosicrucians, Duchamp and Malevič, and who carved out an entirely unique place for himself between modernism and post modernism. McEvilley delves into the complex aesthetic unity that underlies the apparent simplicity of monochrome blue, and explores the dramatic parable of a man and artist who chased his own myth until he died of it: "Long live the immaterial".
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Yves il provocatore

Yves Klein e l'arte del Ventesimo secolo

Thomas McEvilley

publisher: Johan & Levi

pages: 252 pages

Yves Klein (Nice, 1928 – Paris, 1962) knew he was a revolutionary. A warrior of the art world with a tendency to challenge the frontiers of matter and time, he was always reaching "beyond" the limits of things. An intensely spiritual Knight of the Holy Grail with the intrepid, irreverent verve of Tintin. His oeuvre embodies the artistic currents
There was once the easel painting with a solid frame and a complete perspective system in which a illusion of reality was embedded. Then the Impressionist landscapes appeared on the horizon and began to give instructions to viewers as to where they must stand, the right distance for observation and the attitude to be adopted. But this was not the end. The huge canvases of the Abstract Expressionists, fraught with vital tension, expanded still further laterally and came to break through the border. The frame, now reduced to a parenthesis, dissolved to liberate illusion and its function was transferred as though by magic to the exhibition space. The time was ripe for Marcel Duchamp to hang 1,200 coal sacks from the ceiling of Galerie Beaux-Arts in 1938 and stand the visitors on their heads. For the first time the exhibition space was treated as a box, a display window to manipulate. Duchamp’s gesture “dispatches the bull of history with a single thrust”. The years go by and, as in an echo chamber, it will appear more successful all the time. The white cubebegins to devour the object. The context upstages the work exhibited and becomes a “chamber of transformation” that turns whatever enters it into art. The gallery can also remain empty, be filled with rubbish, remain closed for the entire period of the show, simulate a space of real life, be wrapped with tarpaulin and rope together with the entire museum building, host tableaux vivants or shocking happenings. The same scenes would probably not attract the slightest attention outside the white cube, but inside it even our everyday life – the café, the bedroom, the service station – becomes art, an experience that goes beyond looking. As though on board a spaceship, scrutinizing the Earth as it disappears on the horizon, Brian O’Doherty reconstructs a history of the art of the 20th century from the perspective of the evolution of the exhibition space, now to be regarded as the undisputed arena of discourse.
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Inside the White Cube

L'ideologia dello spazio espositivo

Brian O'Doherty

publisher: Johan & Levi

pages: 146 pages

There was once the easel painting with a solid frame and a complete perspective system in which a illusion of reality was embedded. Then the Impressionist landscapes appeared on the horizon and began to give instructions to viewers as to where they must stand, the right distance for observation and the attitude to be adopted. But this was not the e
Belgrade, 1974: Marina Abramović set fire to a monumental five-pointed star, the symbol of the Tito regime, and lay down inside it until she was overcome by the fumes and fell unconscious. Naples, one year later: the artist challenged the public to use any of the objects laid out on a table on her resolutely passive body and one spectator pointed a loaded gun at her throat. New York, 2002: she lived and fasted for twelve days in a suspended structure set up in the Sean Kelly Gallery, drawing sustenance only from the fascinated gaze of spectators who watched her drink, sleep, wash and urinate. James Westcott was one of them and this was his first encounter with the self-proclaimed “grandmother of the Performance Art”. It is also the opening scene of When Marina Abramović Dies, an intimate biography of an artist who has been flirting with death for forty years by using her body as the focal point of legendary performances. Launching herself into performance art initially meant rebelling against a “militarized” upbringing under the tyrannical control of a mother who imposed Communist cultural dictates and never kissed her. The complete break with Belgrade and take-off of her career began after she met the German artist Ulay. Together they toured Europe in a Citroën van transformed into a mobile home and staged performances laying bare an extreme symbiosis that culminated in Nightsea Crossing, repeated ninety times in five years, which involved them sitting immobile and gazing into one another’s eyes for seven consecutive hours across a table. In their last performance as a duo, they set off walking from either end of the Great Wall of China to meet in the middle three months later and say goodbye. Again a solo artist and soon to receive the Golden Lion at the 1997 Venice Biennial, Abramović finally arrived in the limelight of New York, from where still dominates the international art scene. She has often been asked whether she has ever been afraid of dying during her daring actions. She answers, “What if I do? Life is a dream and the death an awakening. We should rather think about how precious our existence is and the senseless way we waste it.”
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Quando Marina Abramović morirà

James Westcott

publisher: Johan & Levi

pages: 352 pages

Belgrade, 1974: Marina Abramović set fire to a monumental five-pointed star, the symbol of the Tito regime, and lay down inside it until she was overcome by the fumes and fell unconscious. Naples, one year later: the artist challenged the public to use any of the objects laid out on a table on her resolutely passive body and one spectator pointed

Edward Hopper

Biografia intima

Gail Levin

publisher: Johan & Levi

pages: 768 pages

Solitary figures caught up in silent dramas. Pared down to the bare essentials, the space is real and metaphysical at the same time, bathed in relentless, limpid light. The scene is nearly always deserted and the atmosphere rife with expectancy. Edward Hopper’s human landscapes are as laconic and haunting as his urban or rural landscapes devoid o
One of the most innovative and influential artists of his generation, Robert Rauschenberg (Port Arthur, 1925 – Captiva Island, 2008), is a key figure in the radical upheavals that American visual art went through as from the late 1950s during the transition from Abstract Expressionism to Pop Art. Born in Texas and part Cherokee on his mother’s side, Rauschenberg daringly challenged all assumptions on taking his first steps in the art world. From his first stay in Paris, the formative experience at Black Mountain College under the guidance of Joseph Albers and his trip to Rome with Cy Twombly to his friendship with John Cage and Merce Cunningham and recognition at the international level with the award of the Golden Lion at the 1964 Venice Biennial, his art developed off the beaten track in the field of experimentation that breaks all the rules, transforming the two-dimensional space of the painting into a receptacle for heterogeneous materials. Newspaper cuttings, pieces of fabric, photographs and found objects, nothing was excluded from his Combine paintings, hybrid creations halfway between painting and sculpture, which combine a love for discarded objects inherited from Dadaist collage with abstract-Art Informel brushwork. Calvin Tomkins offers us extraordinary insight into the revolution whereby art emerged from the museums and galleries to occupy the centre of the social stage. He presents its leading figures: the old guard of Pollock and de Kooning and the new generation of Jasper Johns, Frank Stella and Andy Warhol alongside art dealers and gallery owners like Betty Parsons, Leo Castelli and the collector and patron Peggy Guggenheim. He documents the rise to the pinnacle of success of the artist who aimed more than any other in this context at a cumulative art, the irrepressible innovator who stated his desire to create a situation in which there was as much space for the viewer as the artist.
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Robert Rauschenberg

Un ritratto

Calvin Tomkins

publisher: Johan & Levi

pages: 304 pages

One of the most innovative and influential artists of his generation, Robert Rauschenberg (Port Arthur, 1925 – Captiva Island, 2008), is a key figure in the radical upheavals that American visual art went through as from the late 1950s during the transition from Abstract Expressionism to Pop Art. Born in Texas and part Cherokee on his mother’s
Born in Rotterdam in 1904, Willem de Kooning moved to the United States in 1926. Together with Gorky, Pollock, Rothko and Kline, he was one of the leading pioneers of Abstract Expressionism, which marked New York’s replacement of Paris as the world’s capital of art. De Kooning lived the longest of that group of painters and produced the most, continuing to create surprisingly daring images into the 1980s. Active in a variety of genres including figure painting, the female nude and landscapes verging on complete abstraction, he developed many different styles, each deeply personal and at the same reflecting movements of great importance in 20th-century American culture. De Kooning’s life, from embarking as a stowaway to the attainment of celebrity, repeats the classic American myth of the emigrant who crosses the ocean in search of a better life and experiences poverty, failure and success first-hand. On the basis of a decade of research including hundreds of interviews and a series of previously unpublished letters and documents, Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swann offer the first major biography of this complex and romantic figure. De Kooning. L’uomo, l’artista is a living and richly detailed portrait and reconstruction of the painter’s life from the difficult years of poverty, instability and often violent family life in Rotterdam, the scene of his academic training and initial employment in decorative art, to his arrival in the United States, where he fought doggedly to establish himself as an American artist during the Depression. His early years in the United States are marked by the influence of Gorky, another immigrant, who was not only his mentor but also the role model who inspired his willingness to sacrifice everything to art. It was not until 1948 that his first solo show at the Egan Gallery revealed his talent to critics like Rosenberg and Hess, who vied with one another to champion his work and recognized him as a charismatic leader of the New York School, which was just beginning to make an international impact. His stormy marriage to Elaine Fried, another renowned figure in the world of art, reached its crisis in the late 1940s and early ’50s. At the peak of his fame, de Kooning was caught up in a self-destructive spiral to the point of personifying the new American myth of the man destroyed by his own success. He spent his days painting powerful abstract works and provocative female figures, and his nights haunting the Cedar Tavern, talking to friends like Franz Kline and Frank O’Hara, womanizing, drinking and roaming the streets. In the 1960s, worn out by the feverish world of art and nearly destroyed by success, he retreated to the Springs on Long Island, where he painted an extraordinary series of lush pastorals followed by an vast body of haunting, ethereal late work. Until the end, afflicted by senile dementia, de Kooning remained the painter he had always been, spending the day in front of the canvas and never hesitating to destroy his creations in order to renew a constantly shifting style in accordance with his conviction that you have to change in order to stay the same.
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de Kooning

L'uomo, l'artista

Mark Stevens, Annalyn Swan

publisher: Johan & Levi

pages: 856 pages

Born in Rotterdam in 1904, Willem de Kooning moved to the United States in 1926. Together with Gorky, Pollock, Rothko and Kline, he was one of the leading pioneers of Abstract Expressionism, which marked New York’s replacement of Paris as the world’s capital of art. De Kooning lived the longest of that group of painters and produced the most,
 

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