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Johan & Levi: Saggi d'arte

L'ombra lunga degli etruschi
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
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
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. Mitchel 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
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
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 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 Mula, 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
Vedere l'invisibile
Every phenomenon is the material trace of the invisible forces that generated it, the inseparable fusion of content and form, of internal and external elements. This is how such painting should be understood, a form of painting freed from figurative intentions, which aspires to embody sensations, emotions and passions: in a word, the intimate essence of life. This was the sense of the revolution brought about at the dawn of the last century by Kandinsky, the founder of abstract painting. It is the subject examined in this essay by Michel Henry, whose ideas on phenomenology all hinge on the theme of life, the life that the “pioneer of pioneers” aimed to represent pictorially in his pulsating invisibility. It was no longer a question of “abstracting from” some element of the visible world, nor of grasping an external appearance already constituted to give it back in the form of a more or less mimetic image. The challenge was to bring to light something that did not previously exist except in a secret dimension. But if the art of painting, by his own definition, is display of the visible that is shown in shapes and colours, how can it give shape to a reality hidden from view? Based on an analysis of the theoretical literature that has accompanied the development of Kandinsky’s abstract art and which provides an excellent route to understanding his work, Henry shows how the artist separates colour and line from the constraints of the visible form: every line is the product of a force, every colour is linked to an affective tone, an inner sonority. If we are essentially force and affect, then lines and colours allow our deepest inner self to emerge.   Rather than underpinning a simple art movement, Kandinsky’s abstraction therefore reveals to us the profound truth of art, which to a certain extent is all abstract, freed from having to stick to the external world. Grasping the principles of this revolution is equivalent to understanding that art is the highest expression of the potency of life and, ultimately, its most exemplary objectivization.
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Vedere l'invisibile

Saggio su Kandinsky

Michel Henry

pages: 176 pages

Every phenomenon is the material trace of the invisible forces that generated it, the inseparable fusion of content and form, of internal and external elements. This is how such painting should be understood, a form of painting freed from figurative intentions, which aspires to embody sensations, emotions and passions: in a word, the intimate essen
Una squisita indifferenza
One day in 1823, on a football pitch in the north of England, a player picked up the ball and, with exquisite indifference to the rules of the game, he started to run with it: he had invented rugby. It is commonly held that around 1860 some artists invented modern art, rejecting all the rules and breaking the chains of tradition, such as perspective, which made up the commonly accepted and understood artistic language. But that is not how it went: Degas, Van Gogh, Rodin, Gauguin and Picasso did not restrict themselves to dodging the rules of the game, but, just like the inventor of rugby, they decided to seize the possibilities that lay hidden in traditional art to create a new game with a new system of rules. In this essay, brilliantly written and with a richness and depth of analysis second to none, Kirk Varnedoe offers us an overview of the birth and development of modern art, from what is an original and, in many respects, revolutionary perspective.   According to the American scholar it is simplistic to attribute the new pictorial dimension adopted by Degas and Van Gogh to the influence of photography and the flat perspective of Japanese prints. And it is equally reductive to interpret the primitivism of Gauguin and Picasso as romantic yearning for exotic representations of distant lands. On the contrary, its innovative force comes from the free exchange of forms in juxtaposition which, removed from their original contexts, give rise to new ensembles of meanings. The analysis of fragmentation and serialization in Rodin’s sculptures is a key stage in shedding light on how the development of abstract art is not concerned purely with form. The sudden spread of the aerial point of view in the painting of the belle époque period and in the Russian avant-garde of the 1920s is one of the instruments Varnedoe gives us to understand not only how dialectical the relationship between art history and the history of ideas is, but even what it is that links Degas’ ballerinas to Pollock’s Abstract Expressionism and the minimalist trends that followed. 
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Una squisita indifferenza

Perché l'arte moderna è moderna

Kirk Varnedoe

pages: 220 pages

One day in 1823, on a football pitch in the north of England, a player picked up the ball and, with exquisite indifference to the rules of the game, he started to run with it: he had invented rugby. It is commonly held that around 1860 some artists invented modern art, rejecting all the rules and breaking the chains of tradition, such as perspectiv
Mezzo secolo di arte intera
If we know what we know about the extraordinary art revolution of the second half of the sixties, about Arte Povera, Conceptural Art, Process Art and Land Art; if we now see in Boetti, Pistoletto and Zorio some of the most important exponents of their generation; if we know what Lucio Fontana’s last comments were or we have read about recently discovered figures such as the ones by Agnetti, Baruchello, Dadamaino, Mulas and Griffa, it is also thanks to the news reports, the reviews, the essays, and the publishing and teaching work of Tommaso Trini (Sanremo, 1937). This anthology fills a gap that has long needed to be filled and contributes to drawing up a more accurate map of the panorama of Italian art criticism, leaving aside tired polarized ways of thinking.  Through painstaking research and discussion carried out by Luca Cerizza in conversation with the author, the book brings together for the first time a selection of Trini’s art criticism: from pioneering texts dedicated to the future protagonists of Arte Povera, to the series of in-depth descriptions of other key figures in the post-war years, as well as newspaper reports and analyses – some of the earliest international ones – that define in real time the characteristics of the post-minimalist art movements that shook up the second half of the sixties. Trini is revealed here to be a keen-eyed witness and a perceptive interpreter of much of the best art in this half-century. This book gives art lovers (but also the general reader) sparkling well-paced criticism written with intelligence, where the “militant” stance never strays into sectarian or ideological positions.
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Mezzo secolo di arte intera

Scritti 1964-2014

Tommaso Trini

pages: 356 pages

If we know what we know about the extraordinary art revolution of the second half of the sixties, about Arte Povera, Conceptural Art, Process Art and Land Art; if we now see in Boetti, Pistoletto and Zorio some of the most important exponents of their generation; if we know what Lucio Fontana’s last comments were or we have read about recently di
Carlo Scarpa. L'arte di esporre
The name of Carlo Scarpa (1906-1978) is intrinsically linked to the history of art, taste and museology of the 20th century, so much so that in the seventies the French art historian André Chastel wrote: “Many of those who travel round Italy know him without realizing it: he is the greatest organizer of art exhibitions in Europe”. He still stands tall in the pantheon of those who revolutionized museums in the post-war years (in spite of widespread resistance and provincialism) transforming them into outposts of the avant-garde. The resounding success of the installation created to host the work of Paul Klee at the Venice Biennale in 1948 was followed by many others in quick succession. The personal exhibitions of Piet Mondrian and Marcel Duchamp, the collaborations with Lucio Fontana and Arturo Martini and his work on many historic buildings trace the development of an original architect who up-dated the way art was displayed by setting out a model that takes bold liberties to incomparable lyrical effect. It becomes unfettered from the lofty grandeur of the pre-existing places, fostering a style that is light and spare. His career was a series of legendary solutions resolved in situ (always in tandem with time constraints and a great lack of resources) in symbiosis with the mastery of the craftspeople around him. How to find one’s way around the huge number of exhibitions and museums for which Carlo Scarpa was wholly or partially responsible? Philippe Duboÿ, who worked with him and had access to many archives, is the ideal guide to help us understand the plans, reliefs, sketches, and photographs relating to every one of Scarpa’s projects.  Rare documents written by Carlo Scarpa have been included in the book, which has been conceived according to the principle of synchronism between image and word, which so interested Le Corbusier. The author reveals the personal dialogue between this great figure of European culture and the work of art.
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Carlo Scarpa. L'arte di esporre

L'arte di esporre

Philippe Duboÿ

pages: 268 pages

The name of Carlo Scarpa (1906-1978) is intrinsically linked to the history of art, taste and museology of the 20th century, so much so that in the seventies the French art historian André Chastel wrote: “Many of those who travel round Italy know him without realizing it: he is the greatest organizer of art exhibitions in Europe”. He still sta
Cacciatori d’arte
Visionaries, businessmen and daring adventurers who are mad about art and childishly keen on taking risks. The most intrepid dealers have always been obsessed with running to ground the Van Goghs of tomorrow. It drives them to tramp unfamiliar streets, rounding up studies and betting everything on painters who are either misunderstood or ahead of their times. In recent years, however, the forgery swindle that ruined Knoedler, one of the most respectable New York galleries, has revealed something rotten in a profession that could soon degenerate into vulgar speculation. Yann Kerlau recounts the meteoric rise and the vicissitudes of some of the most famous art hunters from the 19th century to the present day: from the first ardent supporter of the Impressionists, Théodore Duret, who championed Japonisme, to which Gauguin, Van Gogh and Monet were so indebted, to Paul Durand-Ruel, who opened the doors of the American market to the Refusés; from a first-class sales strategist such as the indolent Ambroise Vollard, to the wily Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, who became Picasso’s dealer in spite of an unpromising start, and Peggy Guggenheim, the eccentric American heiress who tracked down the most avant-garde artists for her New York gallery with the help of first-rate advisers. He brings us up to the present day with a worn-out advertising executive, Charles Saatchi, who rose to the Olympian heights of art by turning the artist into a trademark, and a cynical self-made man, Larry Gagosian, who took the best in his stable to conquer a multinational empire, keeping one eye on his bank account and the other on the auction houses. Seven well-rounded portraits, each in his or her own way reflecting their own times. Seven variations on a trade which you need to have a nose for – not to find what is beautiful, but the rare jewel that is hidden in every work of art. A phenomenal feat in which the excesses, passions and folly of the protagonists give the account a heroic and romantic dimension.
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Cacciatori d’arte

I mercanti di ieri e di oggi

Yann Kerlau

pages: 250 pages

Visionaries, businessmen and daring adventurers who are mad about art and childishly keen on taking risks. The most intrepid dealers have always been obsessed with running to ground the Van Goghs of tomorrow. It drives them to tramp unfamiliar streets, rounding up studies and betting everything on painters who are either misunderstood or ahead of t

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