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Johan & Levi: Biografie

Joseph Beuys
A fisherman’s vest over a white shirt, jeans and a felt hat. In the winter a long lynx fur lined with blue silk. In his youth a black tie with a hare’s jaw tiepin. This was how Joseph Beuys presented himself, an unmistakable look midway between clown and gangster. On making his appearance, he always did the opposite of what was expected, delighting in actions that initially seemed senseless: wrapping himself in felt, living with a coyote, scraping gelatin from a wall, holding the same position for hours, sweeping a forest, explaining paintings to a dead hare, bandaging a knife after cutting his finger. All this – and the fat that heals, the felt that warms, the honey that feeds and the batteries that recharge – in order to transmit energy and give the spectators a salutary shock, to broaden their awareness. Creativity is a “shaping” of freedom and the heritage of all. He urged us repeatedly to be constantly alert and make our own revolution: “Everyone is an artist.” Avoiding, with rare exceptions, the stereotyped judgements and interpretations put forward on one of the most controversial and repeatedly analyzed figures of the 20th century, Heiner Stachelhaus presents a portrait of Joseph Beuys in the round starting from the “anti-images” of his life: the study of natural sciences, involvement with Steiner’s anthroposophy, the aeroplane crash in the Crimea and the experience with Tartars, teaching and the occupation of the Düsseldorf Academy, the 7000 Oaks and the environmentalist battles, the Beuys of private life who drank tap water in glasses of ground crystal, and the Beuys Blockin Darmstadt, the museum-workshop still haunted by the spirit of man described by Karl Ströher as the only artist capable of expressing the specificity of our era.
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Joseph Beuys

Una vita di controimmagini

Heiner Stachelhaus

pages: 188 pages

A fisherman’s vest over a white shirt, jeans and a felt hat. In the winter a long lynx fur lined with blue silk. In his youth a black tie with a hare’s jaw tiepin. This was how Joseph Beuys presented himself, an unmistakable look midway between clown and gangster. On making his appearance, he always did the opposite of what was expected, deligh

Mario Schifano

Una biografia

Luca Ronchi

pages: 416 pages

Mario Schifano (1934-1998) is the Italian exponent of Pop Art. His works of large format are characterised by monochrome and the use of commercial brands like Coca Cola and Esso. Backed by major Italian and international galleries (Plinio de Martiis and Ileana Sonnabend), along with the “cursed” painters set (including Franco Angeli and Tano Fe
Memorie di un mercante di quadri
Written in first person as anecdotes on his debut in the profession, the legendary art dealer’s memoirs conjure up the atmosphere of the now bygone world of Paris in the late 19th century, when the painters rejected by the Salon were gradually coming to the fore and the young Ambroise Vollard was taking his first steps. Having arrived in the capital to study law, he dropped out and began to haunt bookshops and markets, where he unearthed cheap prints and drawings that were to be his initial stock in trade. A ruthless businessman, he also had a priceless sense of which way the wind was blowing. He visited Manet’s widow and returned to home with an entire collection of the master’s drawings. He made friends with Renoir, Degas and above all Pissarro, who followed his advice. He looted the studios of Cézanne, Vlaminck, Derain and Picasso, and took a bold stance in the avant-garde market by exhibiting works by Van Gogh and Gauguin. His daring diversification, from painting to prints and books, also had an effect on the artists around him. Combining his longstanding passions for literature and graphic art, he became the publisher of deluxe art books illustrated by painters and exhibited together with paintings in the same shop on Rue Laffitte. The time was right for anyone with a gallery on the “street of paintings” and focal point for art dealers and collectors, where it was easy to run into artists like Matisse, Renoir, Degas, Redon, Apollinaire and Jarry. It was during unforgettable dinners often graced with such guests that Vollard used his keen ear to pick up every comment and capture the greatest artists of the age with extraordinary verve in vividly living dialogues and slices of life. While these are the true protagonists of his memoirs, those capable of reading between the lines will also form a precise image of Vollard himself, the picture dealer par excellence and unquestionably the most immortalized, as shown by the innumerable portraits executed by the painters of his entourage,some of which are reproduced in the book.  
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Memorie di un mercante di quadri

Ambroise Vollard

pages: 320 pages

Written in first person as anecdotes on his debut in the profession, the legendary art dealer’s memoirs conjure up the atmosphere of the now bygone world of Paris in the late 19th century, when the painters rejected by the Salon were gradually coming to the fore and the young Ambroise Vollard was taking his first steps. Having arrived in the ca
Quando Marina Abramović morirà
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

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
Francis Bacon
Bacon’s reaction on being asked by Daniel Farson whether he was happy to have won a place on the Olympus of art was one of sincere indifference. He cared nothing for the tinsel of fame, still less for posterity, and often remarked that we are nothing at all once we are dead. He did not believe in God, morality or love but described himself nevertheless as an optimist. An optimist of nothingness living on the feelings of the moment. Life is so senseless that you may as well make something extraordinary of it. This Nietzschean paradox also guides an approach to painting marked by the ability to take advantage of the creative accident, as when he threw paint at random onto the canvas to see what would come out of it. Like a tightrope walker poised between abstraction and figuration, Bacon combined intentional fortuity with the calculation of a gambler. He went against the tide of artistic fashion, which embraced abstract art in that period. He sought to paint the tragic beauty of life, and if he distorted the human figure it was only in order to extract a greater and more violent truth. A similar intent seems to animate this book, vivid personal recollection rather than official biography, which unearths material collected firsthand during a friendship that began in a club in Soho in 1951 and lasted over forty years. Farson’s is a stark, unvarnished portrait of an artist of extremes, capable of great love and fierce hatred, immense magnanimity and pitiless slander. Between a bottle of champagne and a caustic comment, we follow his madcap forays between the gutter and the Ritz, which always ended up in Soho, the bohemian quarter of London, the second home – if not the first – of writers and artists who drowned their talent in alcohol. Bacon’s descent into the homosexual underworld was paralleled by his irresistible artistic ascent. The works marked by the explosion of a raging sexuality were to go down in history as masterpieces, but whenever he was asked what he did, he would say that he was just an old queer.
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Francis Bacon

Una vita dorata nei bassifondi

Daniel Farson

pages: 290 pages

Bacon’s reaction on being asked by Daniel Farson whether he was happy to have won a place on the Olympus of art was one of sincere indifference. He cared nothing for the tinsel of fame, still less for posterity, and often remarked that we are nothing at all once we are dead. He did not believe in God, morality or love but described himself nevert
Leo & C.
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.
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Leo & C.

Storia di Leo Castelli

Annie Cohen-Solal

pages: 464 pages

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 pano
Georgia O'Keeffe
Georgia O’Keeffe (Sun Prairie, 1887 – Santa Fe, 1986) was one of most innovative American artists in the years when painting broke away from of realism. The pioneer of a non-objective art that mixes clarity of vision and emotive urgency, she developed a personal approach to abstraction and a compositional method best expressed in her celebrated and intensely sensual flower paintings. The book interweaves the artist’s personal and artistic life against the background of figures of the calibre of Steichen, Strand, Demuth, Dove, Marin and Hartley in a highly representative slice of the artistic expression of the American short century. Born in Wisconsin, O’Keeffe had a childhood marked by financial crises and frequent upheavals. At the age of 20 she was in Chicago, where she continued her studies, began to work as an illustrator and took her first steps in the universe of creativity under the guidance of Arthur Wesley Dow. It was then in New York that she met the older married man who was to become her mentor, Alfred Stieglitz, an acclaimed photographer and gallery owner, who was to leave a deep imprint on her future. They started living together and it was under his wing that she matured as an artist and a muse. They addressed the same subjects, exchanged ideas and influenced one another. Familiarity with photography enabled O’Keeffe to develop a style rooted in realism – albeit of an abstract kind – based on techniques borrowed from photography. She managed to establish herself in the artistic community, something unprecedented for a woman at a time when painting was practically a male preserve. Though loath to accept social and family obligations, which were hard to reconcile with her fierce need for solitude, she agreed to marry Stieglitz in 1924 and reached the peak of her creative blossoming three years later. This is the period of the floral and urban paintings that were to set a trend in 20th-century America. She built up a solid reputation during the long years spent in New York with breaks at their summer house on Lake George. O’Keeffe’s story is also one of suffering accompanied by setbacks in her professional and private life. Success did not make her immune to wounds and she often felt misunderstood by her most faithful champions. Averse to labels, she had a tormented relationship with male critics. When they praised her bold use of colour, she responded with subdued hues. When her broad volutes were interpreted as sexually allusive, she abandoned the subjects most charged with feeling and returned to a realistic repertoire, sometimes “filched” from male colleagues. Fame led, however, to gradual detachment from Stieglitz, who remained faithful to his role of mentor by finding someone new to mould, namely the 20-year-old Dorothy Norman. O’Keeffe spent more and more time in New Mexico, entranced by the bleak desert landscapes strewn with the white skulls of animals, which became a further addition to her already rich store of subjects. She moved definitively to Abiquiu on Stieglitz’s death.
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Georgia O'Keeffe

Pioniera della pittura americana

Hunter Drohojowska-Philip

pages: 544 pages

Georgia O’Keeffe (Sun Prairie, 1887 – Santa Fe, 1986) was one of most innovative American artists in the years when painting broke away from of realism. The pioneer of a non-objective art that mixes clarity of vision and emotive urgency, she developed a personal approach to abstraction and a compositional method best expressed in her celebrated

Edward Hopper

Biografia intima

Gail Levin

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
Marcel Duchamp
Described by André Breton as the most intelligent man of the 20th century, Marcel Duchamp has never ceased to wield great influence over contemporary art since his death in 1968. From Dada and Surrealism to Futurism and Cubism, his art is interwoven with the great artistic movements of the 20th century without ever being reducible to any one of them. If Picasso insistently presents the figure of the artist as demiurge, Duchamp personifies the contemporary artist through his invention of the ready-made and has been recognized since the 1960s as an undisputable source of inspiration by younger generations of artists. A great deal has been written about his work but far less about his life, which he led outside the current categories, not as an artist or anarchist but as an “anartist”, to use his own neologism. Detachment, elegance, the freedom of indifference and interpenetration of opposites as well as a constant assertion of laziness and physiological disdain for money were for him the original tools of an unprecedented stance with respect to the world and things: “I prefer living and breathing to working.” Duchamp’s frequent, caustic remarks on his life serve as a whole to delineate a personal economics (reduce needs in order to be truly free) and an authentic art of living. According to Henri-Pierre Roché, Duchamp’s finest work was his use of his time. Bernard Marcadé takes this view as his starting point in the deep conviction that detailed examination of the artist’s life will provide the best understanding of his art. By describing the ready-made as a sort of appointment, Duchamp himself suggests the importance of the events of everyday life in the conception of his works. The biographical elements in play – meetings, friendships, secrets, correspondence and love affairs – are not only anecdotal and marginal trimmings of the work but “biographemes” constituting its fundamental components.
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Marcel Duchamp

La vita a credito

Bernard Marcadé

pages: 608 pages

Described by André Breton as the most intelligent man of the 20th century, Marcel Duchamp has never ceased to wield great influence over contemporary art since his death in 1968. From Dada and Surrealism to Futurism and Cubism, his art is interwoven with the great artistic movements of the 20th century without ever being reducible to any one of th
Robert Rauschenberg
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

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
de Kooning
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

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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