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Johan & Levi: non solo Saggi

New releases Il drago invisibile - Quattro saggi sulla bellezza
Correva l’anno 1993 quando Dave Hickey, l’enfant terrible della critica d’arte, galvanizzato dalla polemica intorno all’esposizione del Portfolio X di Robert Mapplethorpe, decise di scagliare un feroce attacco contro l’establishment accademico trascinando sotto i riflettori un tema passato di moda: la bellezza. Demonizzata e accusata di connivenze con le logiche di mercato, da tempo quest’ultima si aggirava come uno spettro per le rovine del dibattito estetico, seminando imbarazzo in seno alle nuove istituzioni “terapeutiche” – i musei, le gallerie e l’intero art system. Come sacerdoti di un culto misterico, seguendo i dogmi di Greenberg e Barr, i professores avevano mistificato la pratica artistica con elevate disquisizioni teoretiche, sostenuti da una corrosiva diffidenza nei confronti di tutto ciò che fosse avvenenza e seduzione, “bellezza” appunto.In questi quattro saggi – più simili a un manifesto che a una discussione garbata – il critico texano punta dritto al bersaglio e ricorda quanto nei secoli autori come Raffaello, Caravaggio e Warhol abbiano sfruttato la pura forma per stabilire un rapporto immediato fra l’osservatore e il contenuto delle loro immagini, in un processo democratico e liberatorio.A trent’anni dalla prima pubblicazione negli Stati Uniti il drago evocato da Hickey dispiega ancora una volta le sue ali e riversa, senza risparmiare nessuno, la sua prosa infuocata, provocatoria e senza filtri. Del tutto indifferente alle antipatie che può suscitare.
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Il drago invisibile

Quattro saggi sulla bellezza

Dave Hickey

pages: 96 pagine

Correva l’anno 1993 quando Dave Hickey, l’enfant terrible della critica d’arte, galvanizzato dalla polemica intorno all’esposizione del Portfolio X di Robert Mapplethorpe, decise di scagliare un feroce attacco contro l’establishment accademico trascinando sotto i riflettori un tema passato di moda: la bellezza. Demonizzata e accusata di
Caffè Paradiso - La Biennale di Venezia raccontata dalle sue direttrici e dai suoi direttori
Established in 1895, the Venice Biennale is not only the oldest international art exhibition, but also the most eagerly awaited event. A coveted destination for every artist and curator, it has always imposed itself as a mirror of the contemporary and, at the same time, its subversion. This is well known by Massimiliano Gioni who, well before he was the youngest to lead the lagoon kermesse, every two years interviewed the Biennale's directors, meeting them at Caffè Paradiso, the historic café at the entrance to its Giardini.Through recollections, anecdotes and confessions, Gioni recounts a 30-year history from the point of view of those who conquered the Biennale and experienced it first-hand. He recounts the challenges common to all - the struggle against time and a budget that is never enough - and those specific to each, such as the choice of artists or the difficulties at the time of the Covid epidemic; the inspirations drawn from his own, or others', experience; the various attempts to establish a dialogue between present, past and future; the desire to break down traditions and bring a new vision of curating as well as of the Biennale itself. But most of all, what emerges from these conversations is the unmistakable imprint that each of them has left on their edition.Like snow crystals, in their complex and ever-changing weave, in the same way each Biennale is a universe of its own to which each director has wanted to do justice, thus describing an ever-changing world.
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Caffè Paradiso

La Biennale di Venezia raccontata dalle sue direttrici e dai suoi direttori

Massimiliano Gioni

pages: 196 pages

Established in 1895, the Venice Biennale is not only the oldest international art exhibition, but also the most eagerly awaited event. A coveted destination for every artist and curator, it has always imposed itself as a mirror of the contemporary and, at the same time, its subversion. This is well known by Massimiliano Gioni who, well before he wa
Una donna in carriera - Vendere arte e vendere sesso
Class of '92, artist and sex worker Sophia Giovannitti tells it like it is. She proudly signs her name both in artistic performances and when meeting clients. She does not hide behind a puritanical sense of guilt: free of prejudice, she does not allow anyone to degrade her for the way she has chosen to live.Inhabiting a world where capitalism has ended up commodifying not only our free time, but also those activities that have always been considered intimate and sacred, namely art and sex, has made it possible for someone to make money from both, creating a short circuit for which, despite fully participating in the system, one is still mercilessly stigmatised. We are all bent to the market logic that controls every aspect of our lives, and yet there are those who have raised their heads, those who, from the margins, exploit this very mechanism to reclaim their space, whether in the gallery or in the bedroom, and remain uncomfortable to the hypocritical and well-considered world. Sophia then continues on her way, the best that allows her to pursue what she loves and also profit from it. In an ironic 'confessional' style, she lays bare her occupations, giving them extreme seriousness and legitimacy. Rough, brash, provocative, capable of quoting The Sopranos and Foucault in a loose and self-conscious manner, Sophia Giovannitti writes a book that is more than contemporary: a necessary reflection on the markets of art, work and sex as they were, as they are and as one dreams they will be tomorrow.
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Una donna in carriera

Vendere arte e vendere sesso

Sophia Giovannitti

pages: 200 pages

Class of '92, artist and sex worker Sophia Giovannitti tells it like it is. She proudly signs her name both in artistic performances and when meeting clients. She does not hide behind a puritanical sense of guilt: free of prejudice, she does not allow anyone to degrade her for the way she has chosen to live.Inhabiting a world where capitalism has e

Restituzione

Il ritorno a casa dei tesori trafugati

Alexander Herman

pages: 120 pagine

For decades, the issue of cultural property illegally removed from its original context has fuelled global debate, which has heated up since public opinion turned the spotlight on prestigious Western collections holding treasures from countries that now claim ownership. Alexander Herman gives us a wide-ranging and up-to-date overview of the most co

Il desiderio messo a nudo

Conversazioni con Jeff Koons

Massimiliano Gioni

pages: 144 pages

A sense of euphoria and invigorating plenty pervade the world of Jeff Koons and his body of work addressing the allure of mass-consumer goods, banal objects whose almost erotic enticement is further heightened by his use of mirror-like materials that turn the pieces into voluptuous temptresses who seek to seduce viewers by getting them to heed the
L'arte sotto controllo - Nuova agenda sociale e censure militanti
A virus has been spreading through the art world for some time now: the politically correct. Shaped like a tyrannical and moralistic power, it takes root at biennials, festivals and cultural events increasingly devoted to anti-globalist, environmentalist and feminist themes. Such militant art is shadowed by new forms of censorship of artistic output deemed to be offensive to public morality. The petition to remove Balthus’ painting Thérèse rêvant from a museum’s walls and the addition of cover-up banners on Egon Schiele’s nudes in the subway are but the most sensational cases. Having abandoned all provocative and subversive ambition, art today has become the banner of social struggles, while artists allow themselves to be cotton-woolled in do-gooder critique. Often lacking specific skills, artists willingly don the garments of the archivist, historian or activist to make projects that leave ample space for documents, testimonies and densely didactic and sententious scaffolding. But if the intrinsic value of the work takes second place to the content and cause it promotes, what about the strength and autonomy that Modernity assigned to it? The thing that is endangered, in truth, is not only the notion of art: the very idea of ethics is paradoxically fragmented into myriad categories – as many as there are claims to identity – potentially in conflict with one another. In this short and highly polemical non-fiction work, Talon-Hugon retraces the stages of the delicate relationship between art and ethics, comparing them with what is happening today: censorship is being exercised not for the good of humanity as a whole but for the benefit of individual categories or communities, to the detriment of artists and their modus vivendi.
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L'arte sotto controllo

Nuova agenda sociale e censure militanti

Carole Talon-Hugon

pages: 110 pages

A virus has been spreading through the art world for some time now: the politically correct. Shaped like a tyrannical and moralistic power, it takes root at biennials, festivals and cultural events increasingly devoted to anti-globalist, environmentalist and feminist themes. Such militant art is shadowed by new forms of censorship of artistic outpu
Il capitale ignorante - Ovvero come l'ignoranza sta cambiando l'arte
Lack of culture, finance, and globalization are rapidly driving the languages of art into a cul-de-sac. The definitive decline of the avant-garde movements and the erosion of the intellectual power that had supported them, along with the image of art as a status symbol, have fostered the rise of a type of art collecting which, devoid of sufficient knowledge of the object of its desire, has nonetheless imposed new rules of the game and provoked a radical standardization of taste. At one time, collecting – that tangible fruit of developed taste, its material visualization – was the prerogative of a cultured, charismatic aristocracy, capable of bringing legitimacy and authority to the battle of ideas; today, on the contrary, it is mostly seeking consensus while treating art objects like mass-produced souvenirs that should be as recognizable as an image of the Eiffel Tower, familiar even to those who have never been to Paris. Guided by conformity and armed with massive sums of capital, collectors choose trophy-works with the sole aim of confirming that they belong not in an elite of knowledgeable art lovers but in the club of the wealthy. For their part, artists offer no resistance to this standardizing arrangement, having lost the antagonistic role that once sheltered them from the whims of fashion. They are now forced to chase after economic success and produce “obedient” art, respectful of the dictates of marketing and globalized taste, at the expense of the autonomy that had been their most prized and powerful quality until only a few decades ago. This lively essay, scathingly controversial even in its title, analyzes changes in the spirit of the times, in taste in collecting, in the system by which art is disseminated and ultimately in art itself, reflecting the changes over the last thirty-five years in society, geo-politics and the economy.  
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Il capitale ignorante

Ovvero come l'ignoranza sta cambiando l'arte

Marco Meneguzzo

pages: 135 pages

Lack of culture, finance, and globalization are rapidly driving the languages of art into a cul-de-sac. The definitive decline of the avant-garde movements and the erosion of the intellectual power that had supported them, along with the image of art as a status symbol, have fostered the rise of a type of art collecting which, devoid of sufficient
Dark Side of the Boom - Controversie, intrighi, scandali nel mercato dell'arte
Since 2005, the proceeds from sales in the art market have almost doubled, surpassing 60 billion dollars yearly. Art fairs and events have proliferated like mushrooms; auctions reach dizzying figures and the overall demand for artwork has increased exponentially. And yet, this peculiar gold rush is only part of the story. Looking more closely, behind the slick vernissages in museums and galleries, behind Christie’s and Sotheby’s glorious records and ever-changing leadership, lies a much darker side. In fact, the legacy of this boom has been a rapid increase in the concentration of power in the hands of a few mega-players who can singlehandedly determine the price – and thus the value – of an artwork. This concentration has had many repercussions: artists are branded like merchandise; art is increasingly treated as a nothing more than an investment; fraud and the circulation of forgeries are on the rise; the temptation to avoid or falsify tax records has intensified and methods of art production and sales have changed. In recent years, Georgina Adam, astute contributor to the most influential art magazines, has been gathering interviews, statements and testimonies from leading figures in the art system, confronting shady intrigues and scandalous backstories of the often opaque and always poorly regulated art market. With discrete irony, Adam explains the notorious auctions of works by Picasso, Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst, as well as the financial dealings of luxury tycoons and nouveaux riches Asians. With a genuine outsider’s view, she follows the most incredible intrigues and legal proceedings of the art market, where – as one might expect – all that glitters is not gold.
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Dark Side of the Boom

Controversie, intrighi, scandali nel mercato dell'arte

Georgina Adam

pages: 254 pages

Since 2005, the proceeds from sales in the art market have almost doubled, surpassing 60 billion dollars yearly. Art fairs and events have proliferated like mushrooms; auctions reach dizzying figures and the overall demand for artwork has increased exponentially. And yet, this peculiar gold rush is only part of the story. Looking more closely, behi
Costruito da dio - Perché le chiese contemporanee sono brutte e i musei sono diventati le nuove cattedrali
Le chiese contemporanee assomigliano spesso a capannoni industriali, piscine, bar, autorimesse. Non hanno quasi mai la facciata, e i campanili sono un labile ricordo. All’interno sono spaesanti e asettiche come sale d’attesa e al posto della cupola c’è il soffitto che fa pensare non a Dio ma all’inquilino del piano di sopra. I rosoni sono sostituiti dai lucernai e le immagini sacre da anodine opere d’arte astratta che rimandano a una vaga spiritualità senza trascendenza; in omaggio al minimal, gli altari sembrano usciti da un catalogo Ikea. L’orrore dei nuovi edifici di culto è il pegno che la Chiesa paga alla contemporaneità: dopo il Concilio Vaticano II, essa ha dismesso le forme della tradizione preferendo le più ardite stravaganze architettoniche o, peggio, aderendo con giubilo alla burocrazia delle commissioni urbanistiche.Eppure sorgono ovunque nuove, magniloquenti cattedrali: sono i musei, progettati da celebrate archistar, volani di turismo e di investimenti miliardari, luoghi destinati non più a conservare le memorie bensì a fungere da packaging lussuoso dell’arte contemporanea, essi stessi opere d’arte, icone, luoghi dove sperimentare la cultura che si fa religione. Frotte di fedeli partono in pellegrinaggio: come un tempo verso Chartres ora vanno al Guggenheim di Bilbao o alla Tate Modern di Londra per adorare gli idoli e le reliquie della contemporaneità.In modo divertente e divertito, Angelo Crespi passa in rassegna le brutte chiese mettendole in relazione con la disciplina della Conferenza episcopale italiana che offre agli architetti un comico manualetto frutto non della fede, ma di una sorta di moralismo pauperistico postconciliare; dall’altro lato, si scaglia contro i progetti dei musei decostruzionisti, enormi astronavi aliene in vetro, ferro e cemento, che determinano sempre più spesso il paesaggio delle città, divertimentifici e fabbriche di senso e di consenso.
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Costruito da dio

Perché le chiese contemporanee sono brutte e i musei sono diventati le nuove cattedrali

Angelo Crespi

pages: 140 pages

Le chiese contemporanee assomigliano spesso a capannoni industriali, piscine, bar, autorimesse. Non hanno quasi mai la facciata, e i campanili sono un labile ricordo. All’interno sono spaesanti e asettiche come sale d’attesa e al posto della cupola c’è il soffitto che fa pensare non a Dio ma all’inquilino del piano di sopra. I rosoni son
Museologia radicale - Ovvero, cos'è “contemporaneo” nei musei di arte contemporanea?
The future of the public museum has never seemed more at risk: rather than representing the diverse interests of society as a whole, in most cases it has been reduced to a vehicle for promoting block-buster events and protecting the privileges of private concerns, giving rise to temples of amusement and entertainment that are unable to grasp the actual historic moment in its entirety. Apart, that is, from the odd happy but rare exception. In this short essay, Claire Bishop talks about the experience of three European institutions of contemporary art – the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, the Museo Nacional Reina Sofía in Madrid and the MSUM in Ljubljana – which have dealt with the challenge of cuts to public funding dictated by austerity measures by making a virtue of necessity and developing brilliant alternatives to the dominant mantra of “bigger and better, and, if possible, also more profitable”. Through enlightened policies regarding the acquisition of new work and the display of their own permanent collection, these museums have turned themselves into places dedicated to experimentation, capable of using their own resources to put together a critical discourse and cast a political eye on the current period in history.In re-opening discussion of a heated international debate, Museologia Radicale outlines a manifesto for a new concept of contemporary, which should be seen as a practice and not merely as periodization, favouring a reinterpretation of the museum’s role as an institution charged with preserving cultural heritage, at the same time providing a critical voice that can interrogate the present and contribute to creating a different future.
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Museologia radicale

Ovvero, cos'è “contemporaneo” nei musei di arte contemporanea?

Claire Bishop

pages: 88 pages

The future of the public museum has never seemed more at risk: rather than representing the diverse interests of society as a whole, in most cases it has been reduced to a vehicle for promoting block-buster events and protecting the privileges of private concerns, giving rise to temples of amusement and entertainment that are unable to grasp the ac
Curatori d'assalto - L'irrefrenabile impulso alla curatela nel mondo dell'arte e in tutto il resto
From image makers to playlists, from gourmet menus to singing festivals and even VIP weddings, nowadays everything is “curated by”, and “curate”, “curator” and related terms are on the lips and on the curriculum of everyone who wants to make an impression and stand out from the crowd. Whereas even the most disparate companies have adopted this strategy of extreme evaluation of content, it is in the field of art where curators rule the roost. Architects of high-profile group shows and biennials to which they lend their name and their face, the various Obrists, Christov-Bakargievs and Gionis overshadow the work of the individual artists to become the protagonists of the events they have been asked to curate, divided between the need to tap into public taste and the mission to shape a new avant-garde.The phenomenon began in the nineties and soon became widespread, to the extent that even the museums, once havens separate from the frenetic world of marketing, jumped on the curatorial bandwagon, ready to serve up a pre-digested helping of their treasures. What set off the unstoppable rise of these “guarantors of value” so skilled at promoting mainly themselves, so that they appear to be the “must-have” arbiters of taste? How has this role infiltrated mass culture bringing about a hyper-professionalization of roles in the art world and a proliferation of new areas of specialization? David Balzer does not investigate curatorial practice as an expression of taste, sensibility and competence,  and thus endorse  the cult of the curator,  but denounces its excesses by diagnosing what he effectively calls “curationism”. A pathology of our culture, a story of our time.
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Curatori d'assalto

L'irrefrenabile impulso alla curatela nel mondo dell'arte e in tutto il resto

David Balzer

pages: 168 pages

From image makers to playlists, from gourmet menus to singing festivals and even VIP weddings, nowadays everything is “curated by”, and “curate”, “curator” and related terms are on the lips and on the curriculum of everyone who wants to make an impression and stand out from the crowd. Whereas even the most disparate companies have adopt
Ars Attack - Il bluff del contemporaneo
Dirty socks, inflatable footballs, sharks in formaldehyde, stuffed donkeys, stones scattered on the ground, and a lot of pornography and scat. Irreverence, nonsense and senseless amusement appear to be the new categories of contemporary art, where the market alone defines a work’s value and no aesthetic judgement is allowed. Today, the only thing that has a meaning is the artist’s brand which, aside from the end result, churns out art like rabbits produce their young, obeying the command of blind production and profit, while contemporary art museums, empty shells without content, authenticate the prices of these new “pieces of junk”. The only problem is that this new art aspires to being compared with traditional art, to engaging with the greats of the past. A new name would have to be found for it, a new category for a new taxonomy in which to place all those ugly, senseless and often badly made things that call themselves art. Angelo Crespi has a name for these new works: sgunz As a disenchanted but competent viewer, he plunges  the knife into today’s rotten system: critics, curators, gallerists, famous artists young and old, all victims and promoters of a self-perpetuating mechanism. Following the tried and tested school of thought extending from Robert Hughes to Jean Clair, he gives us a manual for survival in an ever-more intricate jungle; a lifeboat for anyone who has lost their bearings, for those who go against the current and still believe in art. Real art, that is.
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Ars Attack

Il bluff del contemporaneo

Angelo Crespi

pages: 112 pages

Dirty socks, inflatable footballs, sharks in formaldehyde, stuffed donkeys, stones scattered on the ground, and a lot of pornography and scat. Irreverence, nonsense and senseless amusement appear to be the new categories of contemporary art, where the market alone defines a work’s value and no aesthetic judgement is allowed. Today, the only thing

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