Saggi d'arte - tutti i libri della collana Saggi d'arte, Johan & Levi - Johan & Levi Editore | P. 2
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Johan & Levi: Saggi d'arte

In miniatura - Perché le cose piccole illuminano il mondo
We are more likely to glean an idea of the universe by creating infinitesimal objects than by remaking the whole sky. Sculptor Alberto Giacometti put it like this: in order to grasp the truth and give it tangible form, he often ended up reducing the scale of what was around him. It must be said, shrunken objects have profoundly revealing qualities: from childhood, we manipulate small cars, little men and bricks, creating miniature empires that we can dominate, putting us on a par with an adult, perhaps even a giant. This aspiration does not always end after we’ve grown up; indeed, it can sometimes turn into total dedication to the most eccentric endeavours. This was the case of Edwin Lutyens, who in the 1920s meticulously designed a dolls’ house for Queen Mary, equipping it with teeny tiny objects, all perfectly functional, created by the most famous artists and craftsmen of the day. Simon Garfield moves through time and space to discover a microcosm populated by collectors, model-makers and diehard enthusiasts. He celebrates its punctiliousness and obsession, investigates the origin of this universe, and manages to find unlikely worlds in the eye of a needle. Prepare to meet incredibly skillful circus fleas, microscopic Lilliputian city dwellers, a lady from Chicago who reconstructs crime scenes the size of a nutshell, and the Chapman brothers’ army of thousands of tiny Hitlers. We should not forget, the miniature intersects with the world of art, broadening the perception of what our mind already believes it knows to give us deep, enlightening insights into the full-scale world around us.
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In miniatura

Perché le cose piccole illuminano il mondo

Simon Garfield

pages: 216 pages

We are more likely to glean an idea of the universe by creating infinitesimal objects than by remaking the whole sky. Sculptor Alberto Giacometti put it like this: in order to grasp the truth and give it tangible form, he often ended up reducing the scale of what was around him. It must be said, shrunken objects have profoundly revealing qualities
Il museo dell'arte perduta
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

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
L'affaire Capa - Processo a un'icona
In 1937, Spain was in the midst of a devastating civil war. In July, a special report in Life magazine gave a tragic account of the lives cut short in one year of combat. The article was accompanied by Robert Capa’s The Falling Soldier, a photograph destined to become an icon of republican heroism known around the world. The image places viewers in the very moment of the death of a soldier struck in the face by enemy fire. But was that really what happened? As we know, at the height of a conflict so ideologically radicalized, the gaze of war correspondents is necessarily biased. Beginning in the 70s, commentators on this image began to express suspicion and increasing doubt about its veracity; some even claimed that it was deliberately staged. Does that mean that the image that gave birth to the myth of the war photojournalist diving into the fray with the Leica around his neck is false? Such questions triggered a full-blown “Capa affair”, in which photojournalism was put on trial in episodes, with accusers and defenders arguing heatedly about the place of the tragedy, the identity of the soldier and the sequence of the photographs. At the heart of the arguments advanced by both sides lies the question of authenticity, that sacred obligation of photojournalism. With all the ingenuity of a detective, Vincent Lavoie assembles a mosaic of eye-witness testimonies, relevant documents and criminal findings, along with incongruities, falsified negatives and misleading diversions. In this way, he has produced a vivid, persuasive investigation of truthfulness in photography that retraces the steps of this momentous controversy. In these times of “fake news” and endless manipulation of images, Lavoie’s book proves to be startlingly relevant.
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L'affaire Capa

Processo a un'icona

Vincent Lavoie

pages: 167 pages

In 1937, Spain was in the midst of a devastating civil war. In July, a special report in Life magazine gave a tragic account of the lives cut short in one year of combat. The article was accompanied by Robert Capa’s The Falling Soldier, a photograph destined to become an icon of republican heroism known around the world. The image places viewers
Catastrofi d'arte - Storie di opere che hanno diviso il Novecento
The history of art, as Benjamin wrote, is a history of prophecies. Certain works of art can only be understood when the circumstances that they anticipated have matured. The century of the avant-garde movements was teeming with subversive enterprises, but there are some whose telluric power jolted modernity forever, creating a new paradigm to fill in the cracks. In fact, the seed of the contemporary first took root in one precise moment: the exhibition of Duchamp’s Fountain. The artist had bought a typical urinal in a plumbing supply shop in New York and sent it to the Society of Independent Artists exhibit in 1917, paying six dollars for the privilege to exhibit. The radical break was visible to all: indeed, the very nature of art was being brought into question. After this “alien spore” of non-art, the movement mushroomed through the continuous and systematic transgression of the limits of art. Exploring – to use Arthur Danto’s term – the art world of the dramatic catastrophes of the 20th century, this book recounts the stories behind revolutionary works, inseparable from the personalities and ideas of their authors, precariously balanced between provocation and prophecy. We learn, for instance, that the disconcerting rigour of Cage’s 4'33' of silence has everything to do with the emphasis on the conceptual and the obliteration of the boundary between art and life; that the impetuous Klein’s experiments with the void and Manzoni’s acerbic paradoxical works inaugurate the practice of constructing the myth of the artist, which becomes a work of art in and of itself, and that Warhol’s iconic Brillo Box upends the modernist hierarchies, spectacularly manifesting the cultural turning point that would come to be known as the postmodern. Luigi Bonfante reveals the importance of a retroactive vision able to recognize the most relevant characteristics of the contemporary in these fractures while simultaneously interpreting the ambiguity of the present, without being seduced by the unsolvable question dominating today’s aesthetic: Are we on the brink of an apocalypse or a regeneration?
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Catastrofi d'arte

Storie di opere che hanno diviso il Novecento

Luigi Bonfante

pages: 184 pages

The history of art, as Benjamin wrote, is a history of prophecies. Certain works of art can only be understood when the circumstances that they anticipated have matured. The century of the avant-garde movements was teeming with subversive enterprises, but there are some whose telluric power jolted modernity forever, creating a new paradigm to fill
One day we must meet - Le sfide dell’arte e dell’architettura italiane in America (1933-1941)
October 1937. As a fruitful conversation at the White House between President Roosevelt and Vittorio Mussolini was drawing to a close, the former expressed the hope that he would meet Vittorio’s father: “One day we must meet”. These were encouraging words for Mussolini’s son, dazzled by the American way of life and there to represent the younger modernist spirit of Fascism.  At the time, the “great country” was becoming ever more frequently a key mediator at the centre of the dense network that was parallel diplomacy. Modern art and architecture were used persistently and pervasively by the Fascist government as cultural ambassadors to create myths that would seduce the masses and win over public opinion. It was a practice that created opportunities and tangible results: on one hand, the imposing national pavilions built for the iconic 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago, on the other, the great exhibitions of contemporary art – Casorati, Sironi, Levi, Carrà and de Chirico, among others – alongside the celebrated old masters, whose artworks were sent on daring transatlantic journeys thanks to the enterprising spirit of the likes of Dario Sabatello, Mimì Pecci Blunt and Giulio Carlo Argan.Sergio Cortesini focusses appropriately on the re-evocation of place and on the lively cultural climate of the period. He draws on hundreds of previously unpublished documents to look back at the course of Italian modern art in America between 1933 and 1941. From the early successes he goes on to describe the steady deterioration in political relations up to the final tragic moment when Italy entered the war. This event marked the end of all illusions of grandeur: the pavilions were demolished and the artwork was put into storage. For those who sincerely believed in an Italianismo that could be expressed through the forms of modern aesthetics and the renewed communicative power of national art, Roosevelt’s words were destined to be lost in translation.
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One day we must meet

Le sfide dell’arte e dell’architettura italiane in America (1933-1941)

Sergio Cortesini

pages: 325 pages

October 1937. As a fruitful conversation at the White House between President Roosevelt and Vittorio Mussolini was drawing to a close, the former expressed the hope that he would meet Vittorio’s father: “One day we must meet”. These were encouraging words for Mussolini’s son, dazzled by the American way of life and there to represent the yo
L'ombra lunga degli etruschi - Echi e suggestioni nell'arte del Novecento
The legend of the Etruscans has stood the test of time over centuries. Since the 15th century, when Leon Battista Alberti was one of the first to reassess the Tuscan order, to more recent years that saw the first major exhibitions, interest in this enigmatic civilization has never faltered. It has, however, been fed by such very different instances – depending on whether the point of view was that of academics or of artists and writers – that one can talk of two distinct Etrurias: a “scientific” one, which from the 19th century and with the important excavations of the early 20th century became ever more precisely and clearly defined, and an “evoked”, imagined Etruria, as fantastical as it was irretrievable.This is the Etruria of painters and sculptors: of Enrico Prampolini, who lent his avant-garde skills to a magazine on the subject; of Arturo Martini, Massimo Campigli and Marino Marini, who, each with their own accents, claimed direct descent; of artists apparently remote from this world, such as the French Edgar Degas and the English Henry Moore; and of figures that occupied what were considered marginal territory (e.g. ceramics) such as Gio Ponti and Roberto Sebastian Matta.Martina Corgnati takes the reader on a long well-structured journey from the end of the 19th century to the threshold of the 21st century, through hybridization and rewriting of the past, adopting more or less explicit suggestion and precise references. There are also forays into the literary debate, particularly lively in Italy, where a foundation myth more authentically italic in respect of Greek or Roman ones has always been fertile terrain. Through the prism of the “Etruscan phenomenon” one can see the art of the 20th century in a new light, exploring the various paths in the shadow of this ancient people.
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L'ombra lunga degli etruschi

Echi e suggestioni nell'arte del Novecento

Martina Corgnati

pages: 240 pages

The legend of the Etruscans has stood the test of time over centuries. Since the 15th century, when Leon Battista Alberti was one of the first to reassess the Tuscan order, to more recent years that saw the first major exhibitions, interest in this enigmatic civilization has never faltered. It has, however, been fed by such very different instances

Duty Free Art

L'arte nell'epoca della guerra civile planetaria

Hito Steyerl

pages: 212 pages

Gigantic secret museums crop up nowadays in no-man’s-lands that circumvent national sovereignties and are closed to the public. They are duty-free storage facilities where works of art – albeit sealed in their packing cases – are used as alternative currency for the circulation of assets worth billions from one end of the world to the other:
La cornice - Storie, teorie, testi
At a time when historical avant-gardes are starting to question it deeply, the frame has become a subject of great interest to philosophers, art historians and semiologists. The quintessential amphibian device, a mediation tool that isolates the image from the real space, not being assimilated with either despite relating to both, the frame is a threshold: it leads us into a realm where other laws are in force compared to those of everyday life. The frame is called upon to prevent the painting from invading the world and vice versa, until we accept the idea of art as a reality that is separate from the one in which we live and breathe. However, 20th-century artistic practices deny this principle with great vehemence. A history of the frame has to include a reflection on the overcoming of its boundaries, necessarily leading us to examine how its role as a modest servant to the image has evolved over the centuries. As an outdated expedient, able to activate a force field and boost the centripetal direction of the gaze, a paradoxical fate awaits it. At the moment when it presumes to take on its own autonomous aesthetic value, it abdicates to its ancillary function, entering into competition with the work, sometimes even replacing it, going from a marginal object to the primary subject of the representation. The eclipse of this element paves the way for the establishment of another kind of frame: the museum as the favoured place for the institutionalization, certification and conservation of artistic value. Daniela Ferrari and Andrea Pinotti look back over the fundamental stages in the history of the frame and its crucial role in the experience of the pictorial image, featuring the main contributions to the phenomenology of this device in this volume: from Simmel to Stoichita, taking in Ortega y Gasset, Bloch, Schapiro, Derrida, Arnheim, Marin and the Groupe μ. The entire 20th century is represented here from different disciplinary perspectives, confirming the fact that this was the century in which the frame fully took on the explicit statute of theoretical object.
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La cornice

Storie, teorie, testi

pages: 232 pages

At a time when historical avant-gardes are starting to question it deeply, the frame has become a subject of great interest to philosophers, art historians and semiologists. The quintessential amphibian device, a mediation tool that isolates the image from the real space, not being assimilated with either despite relating to both, the frame is a th
Scienza delle immagini - Iconologia, cultura visuale ed estetica dei media
While the advent of the digital era and the rapid evolution of technology have led to major change in the coordinates of the visible world and the relationship between word and image, experience and representation, new research methods have become necessary to explore the reasons behind the increasingly extensive production and circulation of images. One of the founding fathers of this vast field of study that has established itself on an international level as visual culture, W.J.T. Mitchell has contributed to the great turnaround in theoretical interest in the “society of the spectacle” and, coining the expression “pictorial turn”, has promoted a philosophical approach since the 1990s that attributes images with the same value of interpreting reality as that attributed to language. Here the reader will find a collection of sixteen of his most recent essays, ranging from media aesthetics to semiotics, in which the author examines the cultural dimension of images and the places and ways in which they manifest themselves, drawing upon ideas and terms that have now earned their place in the critical vocabulary. With the successful distinction between “image” and “picture”, where “image” means the mental representation or pure form of figures, clearly distinguished from the “picture” through which it is revealed, that is to say a material object that can be burned, broken or ripped, such as a painting or sculpture. Rich in incursions into the history of art, cinema and photography, but also into politics and biocybernetics, this volume lays the foundations for a “science of images” in which the visual becomes a fundamental link between humanistic research and empirical sciences.
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Scienza delle immagini

Iconologia, cultura visuale ed estetica dei media

W.J.T. Mitchell

pages: 276 pages

While the advent of the digital era and the rapid evolution of technology have led to major change in the coordinates of the visible world and the relationship between word and image, experience and representation, new research methods have become necessary to explore the reasons behind the increasingly extensive production and circulation of image
Un monumento al momento - Medardo Rosso e le origini della scultura contemporanea
An artist loved by other artists, starting with Boccioni who praises his subversive power, Medardo Rosso (1858‒1928) produced revolutionary work that has never ceased to influence each new generation of sculptors. A forerunner to trends that were only fully developed in the 20th century, Rosso enjoyed extraordinary success after his death, making an indelible impression upon artists such as Brancusi, Giacometti and Moore, but also on many of his contemporaries: Fabrio stated that he owed him a substantial debt, and Anselmo, when faced with his wax sculptures, recognized how the material forged by Rosso vibrated from within, almost as if it had a beating heart of its own. From the very outset, Rosso set himself an irreverent objective: to dematerialize monumental sculpture, which went from being eternal and celebratory to anti-heroic and able to capture a fleeting moment in his creations. However, he was also revolutionary in overstepping geographical barriers at a time when art was strongly defined within national borders. Having grown up after the Unification of Italy and disappointed by the empty promises of the Risorgimento, he left the country in 1889 for Paris, where he spent much of his life. An emigrant by choice and cosmopolitan by vocation, his fearless personality meant that he shunned any form of belonging, but made him receptive towards every modern stimulus, from new channels of communication to progress in photography, enabling him to draw upon a variety of visual sources and circulate his work as never before in his turn. What is more, by working on a small scale, Rosso turned the most static and heavy of the arts into an easily transportable product, in keeping with the unorthodox strategies he developed to promote his work. This essay is the first to explore Rosso’s activity from a historical and transnational perspective, offering an alternative to the officially accepted account of the birth of modern sculpture. While Rodin has always been assigned the role of isolated and heroic innovator, Sharon Hecker upholds the important part played by an artist who pioneered many practices that have become commonplace in the global artistic vocabulary today.
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Un monumento al momento

Medardo Rosso e le origini della scultura contemporanea

Sharon Hecker

pages: 320 pages

An artist loved by other artists, starting with Boccioni who praises his subversive power, Medardo Rosso (1858‒1928) produced revolutionary work that has never ceased to influence each new generation of sculptors. A forerunner to trends that were only fully developed in the 20th century, Rosso enjoyed extraordinary success after his death, making
Avventure di un occhio
Just as there are noses with a prodigious sense of smell, enabling them to invent perfumes, so there are eyes able to reveal the authorship of a painting. If an expert eye takes just a few moments to identify the artist behind a work that has remained in the shadows for centuries, it is because long years of training have made it possible to isolate details that are worth more than a fingerprint. However, intuition and acquired knowledge are not always enough to flush out a masterpiece.The most sensational discoveries often take place thanks to a completely fortuitous event. For example, someone’s eyes might just alight upon a Christ on a cross hanging up in a gallery visited by chance, just at the moment that a ray of light illuminates the nails – recognizable out of thousands because of their polished shine – revealing a work by Bronzino that has been searched for over the centuries and given up for lost. Epilogues such as this tell us a lot about an activity that closely resembles that of the detective. On the trail of lost paintings, connoisseurs rely upon a network of informers, striving to put the pieces of the puzzle together, clue by clue. Their gaze does not linger upon poor restoration, overly casual earlier attributions and the proliferation of fakes, but becomes immersed in the life of the paintings. If they only saw images and were not sensitive enough to enter into them, they would never understand them. Philippe Costamagna, a member of this scant group of experts called upon to authenticate anonymous canvases in every corner of the world, reveals the tricks and pitfalls of a profession permanently poised between the need for scientific stringency and the gratifications offered by dealers and collectors, who are often blinded by personal interests. An account that combines private memoirs, reflections on the tools of the trade, interesting historical facts and succulent anecdotes regarding the affairs of certain illustrious predecessors of the calibre of Berenson, Longhi and Zeri: three radically different men and personalities, whose extraordinary photo archives have trained generations of scholars and who have left their mark on the mysterious art of attribution, each with their own eccentricities.
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Avventure di un occhio

Philippe Costamagna

pages: 192 pages

Just as there are noses with a prodigious sense of smell, enabling them to invent perfumes, so there are eyes able to reveal the authorship of a painting. If an expert eye takes just a few moments to identify the artist behind a work that has remained in the shadows for centuries, it is because long years of training have made it possible to isolat
Duchamp oltre la fotografia - Strategie dell'infrasottile
From the start of his career Duchamp developed a fertile relationship with photography, which runs through his work at several levels, charging his medium with new potential. A device that sees but does not choose, that picks up fragments of reality without the direct intervention of the artist’s hand makes the camera a perfect match for Duchamp’s poetics of indifference and of non-doing. It is no accident that he abandoned more traditional drawing and painting – guilty of stopping at the retinal, that is, at sensoriality and therefore also at a choice dictated by taste – to embrace an “infrathin” attitude, a category that covers all that escapes human perception and that can only be understood by using our grey matter. The image – first and foremost photographic – is never just what it is, nor does it show only what it represents. On the contrary, it is a door to something else, a breach in the fourth dimension that Duchamp frets about ceaselessly: it demands the viewer to give it more attention, a second look that does not stop at appearances, behind which, as in a game of chess, a gambit lurks. It would be misleading, for example, to consider Duchamp’s many photographic appearances – his star-shaped tonsure immortalized by Man Ray, the artist seated at a table and walking along the street in the famous images of Ugo Mulas, or the marvellous Marcel Duchamp at the age of 85 – as traditional portraits or posed photographs. They are the result of the combined action of the person in front of the camera and the person behind it, a complex interplay of references where the impalpable and yet crucial allusions to Duchamp’s art leave no doubts about their intentionality as works of art.  Elio Grazioli documents the cases where photography and the artist’s reflections on it shows through in the finished work. He examines the resonances within the Duchampian system where each element comes fully into play in a complex strategy, irrespective of the diverse materials, and anticipates a way of making art that is today one of the most widespread: not to specialize in just one language but to put them all to work in the pursuance of an idea.
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Duchamp oltre la fotografia

Strategie dell'infrasottile

Elio Grazioli

pages: 88 pages

From the start of his career Duchamp developed a fertile relationship with photography, which runs through his work at several levels, charging his medium with new potential. A device that sees but does not choose, that picks up fragments of reality without the direct intervention of the artist’s hand makes the camera a perfect match for Duchamp

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