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Johan & Levi: Biografie

La mia arte, la mia vita
A legendary figure of Mexican muralism, Diego Rivera was many things: a friend of Picasso, an unrepentant womanizer and insatiable lover, a fervent Communist, soon thrown out of the Party, and a self-styled revolutionary artist. In the retelling of some of the salient episodes of his life, collected and written down by the journalist Gladys March, he is also shown to be a narrator incapable of restraining his exuberant imagination. His prose, as with his painting, reveals an overwhelming passion for life and a multi-faceted humanity: he talks of prostitutes and revolutionaries, corrupt politicians and capitalist patrons of the arts, but above all the people of his own country, for whom he always felt a deep love. After his early attempts as a Cubist painter in Europe, Rivera’s return home was a revelation. Mexico with its blazing colours and intense light, joyful crowds at the market and at fiestas, appeared to him to be a source of irrepressible splendour, and one which he would tap when he portrayed on the enormous walls of Mexican public buildings the political conscience of a nation. He painted scenes of enslavement, social struggle and images of pre-Colombian culture, giving shape to the features of a muralism that would go on to become an international painting movement. The self-portrait that unfurls before our eyes gradually takes on the guise of an open-hearted confession, in which the author takes no prisoners, least of all himself. His version of events finds a countermelody in the voices of the women in his life -- Angelina Beloff, Lupe Marín, Frida Kahlo, who he married twice, and Emma Hurtado (in appendix). On reaching the last page readers can only ask themselves where the truth about this artist lies, an artist who was in the first place an extraordinary storyteller or, in the words of Élie Faure, a mythmaker, or maybe even a mythomaniac.
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La mia arte, la mia vita

Diego Rivera

pages: 204 pages

A legendary figure of Mexican muralism, Diego Rivera was many things: a friend of Picasso, an unrepentant womanizer and insatiable lover, a fervent Communist, soon thrown out of the Party, and a self-styled revolutionary artist. In the retelling of some of the salient episodes of his life, collected and written down by the journalist Gladys March,
Basquiat
10 February 1985: Jean-Michel Basquiat appears on the cover of the New York Times magazine, sitting in his studio in Great Jones Street. His stares idly into the lens while his hand grasps his brush like a weapon. His bare feet, resting on an overturned chair that looks like an animal carcass, are in sharp contrast to the formality of the Armani suit where you can just see the hem of his trousers streaked with paint. He is light years away from his early days when, having removed himself from the bourgeois indifference of his father and his mother’s psychic instability, he chose his path, the underground world of graffiti and new wave music, of clubs, but above all the walls of New York where he gave vent to the “80 per cent of anger” that fed his hunger for success. From the anonymity of SAMO – the label he adopted to brand the skin of a city still hostage to racism and urban decay – Jean-Michel went on, in just a few years, to co-sign paintings with Andy Warhol. Today he is the most famous black artist, the first to become internationally famous, a goal he really wanted to achieve and single-mindedly worked towards. But it quickly became a label he couldn’t shake off, in the gilded cage that the art establishment seemed to have put him in, from which not even his excesses and perhaps his last desperate attempt to escape – a return to his origins, to the African destination on the air ticket found in his pocket at the time of his premature death at 27 – would manage to save him. A contradictory temperament in a time of contradictions, Basquiat personally experienced a whirlwind of stimuli, a maelstrom of emotions that he then poured out onto his canvas and any other support to hand: words, images and sounds were magically recomposed into a new form that makes him one of the greatest visual poets of the 20th century.  
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Basquiat

La regalità, l'eroismo e la strada

Michel Nuridsany

pages: 384 pages

10 February 1985: Jean-Michel Basquiat appears on the cover of the New York Times magazine, sitting in his studio in Great Jones Street. His stares idly into the lens while his hand grasps his brush like a weapon. His bare feet, resting on an overturned chair that looks like an animal carcass, are in sharp contrast to the formality of the Armani su
Robert Mapplethorpe
New York, autumn 1978. Thursday evening at eight o’clock on the dot, Robert Mapplethorpe, bold and elegant in his black leather jacket, descends the stairs and makes his entrance into the main room of the notorious Mineshaft, the buzzy underground men-only club, temple and haven for every form of perversion. This is the sparkling voracious decade of gay emancipation: art and sex are closely bound together and Warhol’s prediction about everyone’s fifteen minutes of fame is an existential imperative. Mapplethorpe, the outrageous provocative photographer, brandishes his Hasselblad as if it were a revolver and aims straight at the dark side of those years when he is both witness and protagonist: statuesque nudes or bodies wrapped in latex and ropes, leather scenes, fetishistic activity, and his Mephistophelean self-portraits. He was an “outlaw” from hell who took the dogmas of American society by storm and became, in spite of attempts to censure him, one of the most acclaimed artists of the twentieth century after his death from AIDS in 1989.  Written by Jack Fritscher – lover and companion to Mapplethorpe in the late seventies and editor of the first magazine to publish his controversial images – this is not a biography in the strict sense: it is the portrait of a wild-at-heart period, recounted in all its excess and bizarre detail in an ironic upbeat style, comprising rapid-fire dialogue and hallucinatory portraits. But it is above all an intimate and personal collage of memories, meetings, loves, vices, obsessions, illness, illustrious friendships, lyrical interludes, scenes from everyday life and tales of derring-do, which allows the profile of a vulnerable man to emerge, a man of crystalline purity and at the same time ambitious and cocky, always intent on feeding the mystique that surrounded his public image. Robert Mapplethorpe was a risk-taker in life and in art, he courted danger and turned his own existence into a sequence of “perfect shots”.
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Robert Mapplethorpe

Fotografia a mano armata

Jack Fritscher

pages: 352 pages

New York, autumn 1978. Thursday evening at eight o’clock on the dot, Robert Mapplethorpe, bold and elegant in his black leather jacket, descends the stairs and makes his entrance into the main room of the notorious Mineshaft, the buzzy underground men-only club, temple and haven for every form of perversion. This is the sparkling voracious decade
Umberto Boccioni
Champion of a violently revolutionary art, Umberto Boccioni (1882-1916), painter and sculptor, is, jointly with Marinetti, the greatest exponent of Futurism and the first in his circle to have tapped into the new sensibility ushered in with the century of the machine and technology. It is no accident that Apollinaire immediately saw in him the theoretician of the group, the one who was to distil in the celebrated “striding figure” his investigation of an almost metaphysical dynamism of Aristotelian origin. Boccioni had a quick intellect and singular way of thinking, which ranged over every field. He had the characteristics of genius, he absorbed and processed his reading and experiences, remaking them in extraordinary inventions that fixed the principles of a new aesthetic. Although he followed in Balla’s wake during his apprenticeship in Rome, he was, however, the one to draw the maestro into the adventure that was the Futurist painters’ manifesto in 1910, to which Carrà, Severini and Russolo were signatories. They were a lively bunch with the poet Marinetti in the role of leader who missed no opportunity to launch his companions on the path to international fame, achieved in February 1912 with the first Futurist exhibition in avant-garde Paris. This was an event Boccioni had longed for more than anything and it brought all his expectations into focus. This was followed by London, Brussels and Berlin, before going back to the Italian tour of Futurist shows, where the young artist was to give further proof of his magnetic personality and keen intelligence. These qualities also had their effect on women, some of whom were well known, such as the art critic Margherita Sarfatti, the writer Sibilla Aleramo and Princess Vittoria Colonna Caetani, his final desperate passion. But prior to them was Ines, the woman immortalized in many portraits, a continuous thread running through Boccioni’s very brief existence. He signed up as a volunteer for the Great War, and died at the age of 34 when he was thrown from his horse. He left behind a mystery regarding his legacy – revealed in these pages – and a great heritage for the future of art.
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Umberto Boccioni

L’artista che sfidò il futuro

Gino Agnese

pages: 400 pages

Champion of a violently revolutionary art, Umberto Boccioni (1882-1916), painter and sculptor, is, jointly with Marinetti, the greatest exponent of Futurism and the first in his circle to have tapped into the new sensibility ushered in with the century of the machine and technology. It is no accident that Apollinaire immediately saw in him the theo
Jackson Pollock
In the spring of 1955, when the young B.H. Friedman met Jackson Pollock for the first time, he was already an “old master” of Abstract Expressionism. With his powerful physique and explosive talent, Pollock had gained international fame through a body of work that encompassed a vast range of expression, from delicate lyricism to fierce, violent imagery. Recently extolled by Life magazine as the greatest painter in America, he was revered every night at Cedar Tavern by a throng of young artists who elbowed their way through to get nearer to the great painter. For them, Jackson was the one who had broken the ice, clearing the way for the first radically American generation. On the other hand, for the regulars of the legendary Greenwich Village meeting place, Pollock was no more than a picturesque character known for his disturbing metamorphoses: in the grip of alcohol, his voice grew hoarse, his vocabulary more vulgar, his gestures more aggressive and his expression clouded, all culminating the inevitable outbreak of a fight. This book, which grew out of a friendship begun in Pollock’s last year of life, follows the artist’s brief trajectory with extraordinary vividness, without glossing over the moments of greatest suffering: the struggles of Pollock’s formative years, his use of alcohol to calm his soul, and his first academic works created under the supervision of Thomas H. Benton. Eventually, with the discovery of “dripping”, his own very personal language, he attained the peak of success, not least thanks to the courage of gallery owner Peggy Guggenheim and the unconditional support of his wife Lee Krasner, who remained beside him until the last months before his tragic death. Friedman penetrates the silence and solitude of Pollock’s studio. He examines the artist’s tormented relationship with fame and his belief that he had sold his identity to an art world that rarely understood him and carried him to dizzying heights from which one rarely returns unharmed. The result is a biography that offers a consummate, insightful analysis of the glorious ascent and ruinous fall of the artist who “danced” masterpieces such as Autumn Rhythm into being – an artist who staked everything on his interpretation of art as the discovery of oneself, firmly convinced that a man’s life and his work are inseparable.
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Jackson Pollock

Energia resa visibile

B.H. Friedman

pages: 308 pages

In the spring of 1955, when the young B.H. Friedman met Jackson Pollock for the first time, he was already an “old master” of Abstract Expressionism. With his powerful physique and explosive talent, Pollock had gained international fame through a body of work that encompassed a vast range of expression, from delicate lyricism to fierce, violent
Yves il provocatore
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

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
Mario Sironi
In Sironi's words, "Art does not need to be nice, it needs to be great", and what better way to describe his own paintings: depictions of city scenes as forbidding yet impressive as modern cathedrals. A Futurist from 1913, in the 1920s Mario Sironi (Sassari 1885 – Milan 1961) began painting the bleaker side of city life and contemporary society, creating cityscapes that nonetheless possess the dignity of classical architecture and monumental figures with the poise of ancient portraiture. With his modern take on classicism, he was one of the leading artists between the two wars: first with the Italian Novecento movement, which formed in Milan in 1922; then with the visionary dream of reviving fresco and mosaic.A personal friend of Mussolini's and early adopter of Fascism, Sironi's mural paintings of the 1930s gave form to the nationalist and social doctrine of the regime, though not its racial laws, which he never approved of. Yet his first love remained the decorative art of antiquity, inspired by witnessing "the magnificent ghosts of classical art" during his youth in Rome. And in any case, his powerful, harrowing works never became an art of state.Life was not kind to Sironi, who lost his father when he was only thirteen. He not only lived through the war but also depression, poverty, family problems, artistic controversy, and overwork to the point of burnout. He survived the fall of Fascism and the disintegration of his political ideals, only narrowly avoiding a summary execution (thanks to the intervention of Gianni Rodari, a member of the resistance but admirer of his), and experienced the tragic loss of his daughter Rossana, who committed suicide at the age of 18 in 1948. Yet his art represented a stubborn creative act in the face of life's (existential and historical) vicissitudes; at least until his late period, when, deserted by his dreams and illusions, he painted crumbling cities and visions of the Apocalypse.
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Mario Sironi

La grandezza dell'arte, le tragedie della storia

Elena Pontiggia

pages: 304 pages

In Sironi's words, "Art does not need to be nice, it needs to be great", and what better way to describe his own paintings: depictions of city scenes as forbidding yet impressive as modern cathedrals. A Futurist from 1913, in the 1920s Mario Sironi (Sassari 1885 – Milan 1961) began painting the bleaker side of city life and contemporary society,
Meret Oppenheim
Woman, artist, outsider, icon: from her groundbreaking debut with Breakfast in fur, which made it into the MOMA when she was just over 20, to her lengthy and difficult quest to be cast off artistic, ideological and gender-related labels, Meret Oppenheim (1913-1985) is one of the few female figures in art history famous for challenging time-honoured rules and preconceptions in the name of a genuine vocation.Her life and work were shaped by a radical outlook: no easy path, both in terms of the conformist society of the day, and the inherent sexism that characterised the artistic and literary milieu of her time. Man Ray's revered muse, Breton's irreverent protégé, a party to and exponent of the most radical experiments and most exciting artistic adventures in the twentieth century, Meret Oppenheim was a free spirit with the confidence and at times tormented originality of a natural talent.From her encounter with the theories of Carl Jung to her dazzling engagement with the surrealists; from her long struggle with depression to her magnetic attraction to Max Ernst, aged just 20; from her intense, profound artistic partnership with Alberto Giacometti to her secret and, to date, little known friendship with Marcel Duchamp, Martina Corgnati traces a faithful and intriguing portrait of a woman and artist who, following in the footsteps of Virginia Woolf and Lou Salome and combating the facile stereotypes of an all-female art,  had the courage to shout out to women of every era: "Freedom will not be given to us: we have to take it for ourselves".
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Meret Oppenheim

Afferrare la vita per la coda

Martina Corgnati

pages: 540 pages

Woman, artist, outsider, icon: from her groundbreaking debut with Breakfast in fur, which made it into the MOMA when she was just over 20, to her lengthy and difficult quest to be cast off artistic, ideological and gender-related labels, Meret Oppenheim (1913-1985) is one of the few female figures in art history famous for challenging time-honoured
Nadar
The eccentric Baudelaire with a flamboyant black bow and an immaculate white shirt, the proud and inflexible gaze of the aged Victor Hugo and the magnetic appeal of Sarah Bernhardt in her twenties: there are few who do not know the photographic portraits of Félix Tournachon, known as Nadar, more capable than anyone else at capturing the innermost soul of his contemporaries in Paris during the second half of the 19th century. From his birth under the Restoration to his death on the eve of the Great War, Nadar lived for nearly a century as a major public figure. This biography by Stéphanie de Saint Marc reveals the other faces of the great photographer, the embodiment of a “vital paradox with countless nuances”: the turbulent debut that shocked public opinion with the first, pioneering caricatures, contributing to the birth of popular, sensationalistic press; the sudden, rash decisions, as when he dropped everything one morning in March 1848 and marched off with the French army to help free Poland from the Russian invaders; the insatiable thirst for adventure that took him first into the heavens, photographing clouds from a hot-air balloon, and then down into the bowels of the earth, immortalizing the catacombs of Paris by means of artificial lighting; the happy-go-lucky character of a controversial artist who “was on close terms in five minutes and had eight thousand friends” but was at the same time introverted and incapable of balanced relations with those dearest to him. “Able to conquer the air like a bird, as strong as a bull, as agile as a fish at wriggling in anywhere, as mischievous as a monkey and as proudly independent as a stag”, Nadar was all these things together, the observer and interpreter of a modernity that owes him much more than is realized.
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Nadar

Un bohémien introverso

Stéphanie de Saint Marc

pages: 300 pages

The eccentric Baudelaire with a flamboyant black bow and an immaculate white shirt, the proud and inflexible gaze of the aged Victor Hugo and the magnetic appeal of Sarah Bernhardt in her twenties: there are few who do not know the photographic portraits of Félix Tournachon, known as Nadar, more capable than anyone else at capturing the innermost
Infinity Net
A silvery sea of reflecting spheres, vast expanses of white phalluses, a proliferation of polka dots that overflow the canvases to invade the entire room. In the middle, swallowed up by her own art, a minute Japanese woman with pitch black hair. Yayoi Kusama was born in Matsumoto into a traditionalist family in 1929. As soon as she was able, little Yayoi took refuge on the plantations of her maternal grandfather, where she abandoned herself amid clouds of hollyhocks the outlandish visions that were then captured on canvas. Painting was the only relief for the existential angst that struck her at a very early age, and she decided to embrace it all the way, even if it meant putting an entire ocean between herself and those seeking to prevent her. At the age of 28 she arrived in New York, hell on earth, and art was once again he salvation. She overcame poverty and repeated nervous breakdowns, exorcising her phobias with the celebrated Infinity Nets and soft sculptures. It was a short step from “psychosomatic” art to wild, orgiastic performances. In the late 1960s she rode the hippy wave and the Kusama Happenings became the key events of the pacifist revolution. The priestess of polka dots asked a policeman whether he preferred war or free love. Her disciples addressed her as “sister” like a nun because, contrary to what her outraged compatriots believed, she directed the dances but did not participate. In actual fact, she found sex literally horrifying, far more so than death, which her friend Joseph Cornell described as no more than going into the next room. Related in the first person with disconcerting sincerity and a wealth of authentically comic anecdotes, these pages trace the trajectory of one of the most eccentric, ambivalent and charming personalities that Japanese art has ever known.
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Infinity Net

La mia autobiografia

Yayoi Kusama

pages: 160 pages

A silvery sea of reflecting spheres, vast expanses of white phalluses, a proliferation of polka dots that overflow the canvases to invade the entire room. In the middle, swallowed up by her own art, a minute Japanese woman with pitch black hair. Yayoi Kusama was born in Matsumoto into a traditionalist family in 1929. As soon as she was able, little
Piero Manzoni
6 February 1963: at the age of just 30 Piero Manzoni was found dead of a heart attack in his studio in via Fiori Chiari. From that moment on his reputation as a provocateur and wild child preceded him, with his most subversive work, Artist’s Shit, elevating him to cult status. But what actually came before and lay behind those 30 grams of pure artistic output? Flaminio Gualdoni sets out to explore exactly that in this biography that traces the guiding themes of Manzoni’s works, lending order to a jumble of hitherto fragmented materials and setting aside any apocryphal hypotheses. Milan’s “dolce vita” nightlife and the artist’s youthful bike expeditions; the early experiments under Fontana, in the search for a personal style, and the partnerships with young Italian contemporaries and international avant-garde movements which brought acclaim and recognition. This fast-moving career relegates Manzoni the private individual increasingly into the background, turning the spotlight purely on Manzoni the artist. What emerges powerfully, even in his continuous, incessant experimentation with all kinds of media – from painting to designs for immersive environments – is the compact kernel of an aesthetic adventure around the very essence of the work of art. And his life, in the dual sense of everyday existence and exceptional artistic undertaking, was necessarily an integral part of this tenaciously pursued adventure. In the words of the artist: “There is nothing to say; there is only to be, to live.”
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Piero Manzoni

Vita d'artista

Flaminio Gualdoni

pages: 240 pages

6 February 1963: at the age of just 30 Piero Manzoni was found dead of a heart attack in his studio in via Fiori Chiari. From that moment on his reputation as a provocateur and wild child preceded him, with his most subversive work, Artist’s Shit, elevating him to cult status. But what actually came before and lay behind those 30 grams of pure ar
Alfred Jarry
On his death at the age of just 34, Alfred Jarry (Laval, 1873 – Paris, 1907) was already a legend in the Parisian salons, albeit more for his irreverent anti-conventionalism than his literary genius. It was not until decades later that he was recognized as one of the fathers of the avant-garde and Ubu Roi became the emblem of radically modern theatre. His influence was so deep and lasting that a community of adepts still maintains a posthumous dialogue with his ideas today through the College of Pataphysics, where Italian intellectuals like Italo Calvino, Enrico Baj and Umberto Eco figure alongside other great names in international culture. For many, however, Jarry is still just the author of an absurd, grotesque play and his life a mere string of outlandish anecdotes: his disruption of the literary Tuesdays held by the wife of the editor of the Mercure de France, the total identification with Père Ubu that ultimately devoured him, the disdain for any form of respectability, the scatological sense of humour, Herculean bouts of drinking, exploits with revolver, bicycle and fishing rod, and the dying wish for a toothpick. The anecdotes remain in this first full-length critical biography and are indeed augmented due to a host of new sources. Alastair Brotchie draws upon this previously unpublished material with discernment, however, and thus manages to separate the man from the myth and go beneath the mask to reveal the wild and delicate monster that was Alfred Jarry. We thus have the trajectory of a man determined to invent and destroy himself and the world around him by means of a philosophy erected on the principle of the identity of opposites, the linchpin of Jarry’s entire universe and fulcrum of a still incredibly vital body of work capable of encompassing both the clowning of Ubu and the subtleties of pataphysics.
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Alfred Jarry

Una vita patafisica

Alastair Brotchie

pages: 448 pages

On his death at the age of just 34, Alfred Jarry (Laval, 1873 – Paris, 1907) was already a legend in the Parisian salons, albeit more for his irreverent anti-conventionalism than his literary genius. It was not until decades later that he was recognized as one of the fathers of the avant-garde and Ubu Roi became the emblem of radically modern the

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