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Johan & Levi: Saggi d'arte

I primitivi traditi
What are we speaking of when we speak of “primitive art”? What parameters do we use to define and evaluate works that have been captured, like African objects during the slave trade years, wrested from their original socio-cultural context and transplanted in strange lands where they appear in new contexts in order to satisfy the economic, ideological and cultural demands of an educated elite? Sally Price draws on an extraordinary variety of sources, including fashion advertising, cinema, anthropology and comics, to lead us in an investigation of tribal art and the misunderstandings that plague it in the West, whose “civilized” observers view distant cultures through a dense web of preconceptions and convictions that such products are the fruit of irrational urges, supported by religious rites and social dynamics utterly unlike their own. The long-standing opposition between an ethnographic object and a work of art – along with that between primitive and civilized – is consigned to history as the author sheds light upon the darkness obscuring primitive artists. In the end, she succeeds in invalidating the common belief that such primitive artists operate anonymously while the cult of individual expression is the exclusive prerogative of “our” artists. This mistaken presumption has contributed to an acceptance of the dehumanization of primitive art, that is, the refusal to acknowledge the intellectual environment in which these objects are created. Through interviews with museum curators, ethnologists and private collectors, bolstered by rewarding incursions into the world of art dealers, Price seeks to definitively demolish the framework of traditional anthropology and its paradigms of interpretation. According to the author, these paradigms form the bedrock of the persistent incomprehension of tribal creations and the long failure to adequately describe these societies and their cultural patrimony.
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I primitivi traditi

L'arte dei "selvaggi" e la presunzione occidentale

Sally Price

pages: 192 pages

What are we speaking of when we speak of “primitive art”? What parameters do we use to define and evaluate works that have been captured, like African objects during the slave trade years, wrested from their original socio-cultural context and transplanted in strange lands where they appear in new contexts in order to satisfy the economic, ideo
L'arte non evolve
Devoid of ascertainable origins, freed from the sequentiality of a before and after, the work of art demolishes the barriers of time and projects us into a space extraneous to progress. That art does not evolve, that is, it does not proceed by means of a linear temporal development but is instead capable of introducing new ideas not even hinted at before, is the thesis of this essay on the poetics of immortality in Gino De Dominicis. It is an investigation of a mystery – creation ex nihilo – and a meditation on the origin of all things. Guercio’s starting point is the artist’s most emblematic and controversial work, Second solution of immortality: the universe is immobile, exhibited in 1972 at the Venice Biennale in a room that is the summation of De Dominicis’ reflections and caused such a sensation that it was immediately closed to the public. The reason for the scandal was the presence of a young Venetian man with Down’s syndrome. Positioned facing three objects on the floor – a stone, a rubber ball and the outline of a white square – Paolo Rosa was not merely a provocation as the most reactionary thought, but the fulcrum around which the other elements are arranged, the key to the whole grouping. The multiple dynamics created by this figure allowed the artist to endow the work with an unprecedented power: to open a breach in eternity. Is it possible to read into De Dominicis’ Second Solution a paradigm of immortality that functions outside the closed system of his work? That is, can we establish a link between artistic creation in its broader sense and the search for immortality? This question, posed at the opening of the essay, engages the reader, drawing us into a complete examination of the artist’s themes, pointing up the ones that can support a presumption of contemporaneity over the present period, such as the primacy of the image over the word and the power of discontinuity when faced with a viral proliferation of connections.
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L'arte non evolve

L'universo immobile di Gino De Dominicis

Gabriele Guercio

pages: 128 pages

Devoid of ascertainable origins, freed from the sequentiality of a before and after, the work of art demolishes the barriers of time and projects us into a space extraneous to progress. That art does not evolve, that is, it does not proceed by means of a linear temporal development but is instead capable of introducing new ideas not even hinted at
L'arte nello spazio urbano
The term Public art is a term that refers to a wide range of experiences, including political or playful operations, ephemeral projects to transform places and landscapes, participatory actions, small everyday activities brought out into the open, and forms of active exploration of a given area. But what has been Italy’s experience with this artistic practice? Italian artists have followed many distinct paths, in their reinvention of the relationship between space and the public within the urban dimension. Alessandra Pioselli, with her unique critical and expressive experience, chooses to begin in 1968, setting public art against the background of the political and economic context of Italy at the time. Artists came into the city streets, challenging and lampooning authorities, highlighting social problems and giving voice to an insistent collective energy. Given their focus on the struggle for jobs and housing, their work appeared in outlying but critical areas, often in the form of militant acts or alternative interpretations of the concept of cultural assets. Then, through the 70s, the proactive role of Enrico Crispolti, Riccardo Dalisi, Ugo La Pietra, and others counterpointed groups like Collettivo Autonomo di Porta Ticinese and Laboratorio di Comunicazione Militante in Milan, which addressed the issue of protest and militancy in a non-authorial manner. As a result, environmental sculpture multiplied and gained a renewed civic function. With the waning of popular participation in the 80s, the front crumbled and differentiated. Art parks began to appear; works increasingly were set in highly problematic contexts and dealt with collective memory in increasingly emotional and subjective ways. Gestures, signs and relations assumed a symbolic, semantic value. While Maria Lai orchestrated poetic yet effective collective actions in her native Sardinia, Maurizio Cattelan playfully used intelligent provocation to expose the contradictions of an increasingly complex multi-cultural society. Today, new patrons and players acting in the context of a gentrified city hard put to recognize itself as a community call for a critical reinterpretation of the concept of participation, which is at the heart of this book.
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L'arte nello spazio urbano

L'esperienza italiana dal 1968 a oggi

Alessandra Pioselli

pages: 220 pages

The term Public art is a term that refers to a wide range of experiences, including political or playful operations, ephemeral projects to transform places and landscapes, participatory actions, small everyday activities brought out into the open, and forms of active exploration of a given area. But what has been Italy’s experience with this arti
Hybris
Once merely an exception and object of curiosity, the monstrous has become a common experience, overrunning everything with its troubled, deviant forms that defy the harmony of the classic canon. Indeed, in a disconcerting shift in perspective, disproportion, or hybris, has become the rule. The abyss opened in 1895, when the many revolutionary discoveries and theories – cinema, psychoanalysis, x-rays, Penfield’s neurological research and the first studies of hysteria – prevented artists from continuing to represent the body as they had always done. Jean Clair dissects the modern aesthetic with its proliferation of monstrous, exaggerated forms, beginning at the beginning with Goya, continuing with the malaise expressed in Redon’s symbolist paintings and arriving at the crossbreeds of the twentieth century in works by Miró, Ernst, Duchamp, Grosz, Picasso, Giacometti, and Balthus. Clair’s analysis focuses on three exemplary figures that weave themselves through the fabric of the centuries, eventually serving as tormented paradigms: the deformed, disjointed homunculus, the Behemoth, which, following on Swift and Voltaire, came to incarnate the deadly madness of the revolution that devours its own children, and the Acéphale celebrated by Bataille, the headless monster whose mutilated body is the unnerving child of the guillotine. Bringing to bear the work of thirty years, Clair offers an intriguing view of the contemporary. Continuing his exploration of themes from exhibitions such as ‘Identità e alterità’ and ‘Crime et châtiment’, the author traces a path that winds through centuries of terrifying, exaggerated creatures who force themselves into consciousness with the finality of facts, becoming instruments to gauge the degree of disorientation in our hybris-saturated present. Now a new monstrous creature has appeared in an unexpected light as a colossal, decapitated, senseless container of an immense, formless, frenetic mass: the global museum.
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Hybris

La fabbrica del mostro nell'arte moderna. Omuncoli, giganti e acefali

Jean Clair

pages: 166 pages

Once merely an exception and object of curiosity, the monstrous has become a common experience, overrunning everything with its troubled, deviant forms that defy the harmony of the classic canon. Indeed, in a disconcerting shift in perspective, disproportion, or hybris, has become the rule. The abyss opened in 1895, when the many revolutionary dis
Un desiderio ardente
Before it was seen as a technology, at its outset photography sprang from a burning desire to capture the images produced in the camera obscura. This desire, which can also be seen in Dürer's work and has roots in the founding legend of art, grew in force between the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, when the romantic redefinition of space, time and subjectivity, provided the right conditions for the first concrete achievements in the photographic process, leading to the "official" birth of the medium. As an invention it was heralded by the centuries-long, complex rapport between art and reality, but it is in fact the product of a specific aesthetic, social and cultural milieu. The incentive of industrialized modernity and the advent of mass production prompted the studies of scientists, experimenters and artists from different countries and cultures which culminated in the achievements of Talbot, Niépce, Daguerre, Bayard and other early photographers who were inspired, in parallel and simultaneously, by the desire to capture "the art of nature" by any means. The book reflects on both the origins of photography and its identity: inspired by Foucault's genealogy and the deconstruction of Derrida, Batchen tells the story from a new point of view. Not with the banal aim of deciding who was the first to "invent" the process, but to effect a broader survey that investigates the conception of the very idea of photography, intuiting the richness and complexity of the medium in the often figurative notions and discourse of the early days. Notions and discourse that, like photography, oscillate between nature and culture in challenging, intriguing ways, and are infused with the ambiguities and enduring echoes of a desire that forever changed our way of looking at the world.
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Un desiderio ardente

Alle origini della fotografia

Geoffrey Batchen

pages: 256 pages

Before it was seen as a technology, at its outset photography sprang from a burning desire to capture the images produced in the camera obscura. This desire, which can also be seen in Dürer's work and has roots in the founding legend of art, grew in force between the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, when the romantic redefinition of
Che cos'è l'arte
This is the eternal question that the philosopher and critic Arthur C. Danto tackles in an essay that is part philosophical dissertation, part autobiographical musings. Taking his distance from the view that reduces art to what is regarded as such in an institutional context, or those who even consider it to be indefinable, the author identifies various features that can help provide some clear outlines, including the ontological permanence of art, beyond the different forms in which it manifests itself. What makes art art is the ability to lend form to an idea, to express an idea by means of an artistic "modus operandi" that translates thought into matter in the most effective way, bypassing contingencies. But that's not the full story. Art has to embody something intangible: like a daydream, it has to induce a new emotive and sensory state in the viewer. Danto thus arrives at conclusions far removed from the relativism attributed to him for decades: understanding art does not depend on an open concept, but an open mind. Guiding the reader through the big names in philosophy and art of every age (particularly Michelangelo, Poussin, Duchamp and Warhol), the author takes an ambitious path from Platonic and Kantian theory to an analysis of the innovations - perspective, chiaroscuro, physiognomy and the advent of photography - that have shaped Western art, until its apparent burn-out with the arrival of conceptual poetics and the disappearance of aesthetics as a value. As well as exploring fascinating new developments, What is Art? distills the essence of decades of work, and thus represents an ideal introduction to the work of America's greatest visual arts critic.
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Che cos'è l'arte

Arthur C. Danto

pages: 126 pages

This is the eternal question that the philosopher and critic Arthur C. Danto tackles in an essay that is part philosophical dissertation, part autobiographical musings. Taking his distance from the view that reduces art to what is regarded as such in an institutional context, or those who even consider it to be indefinable, the author identifies va
Il cinema degli architetti
This is a story of conversations that never took place and arrested developments; an adventurous tale, never yet fully told, whose protagonists include Le Corbusier and Walter Gropius, Charles and Ray Eames and Yona Friedman, Bruno Munari and Frank Lloyd Wright, Giancarlo De Carlo and Ludovico Quaroni, Emilio Ambasz and Ettore Sottsass, Gaetano Pesce and Mario Bellini, Michele De Lucchi and Aldo Rossi, Superstudio and Andrea Branzi.  What these diverse players have in common is a deep fascination for film, the medium of the modern age. As the extraordinary art of "seeing space", it is a tool that can be used to explore architecture and describe its principles and volumes from the inside, a device that can be deployed to visualise the contemporary metropolis. Reluctant to embrace the rules of the film industry and grasp the specificity of cinematic language, these architects/directors see the seventh art as a free arena, a terrain to explore without having to pay lip service to customs and rituals, a place for the wildest experiments. Some elements are recurrent: the urgency of their accounts, their critical approach, their desire to recycle existing materials, their visionary momentum and conceptual attitude. While Le Corbusier and De Carlo used moving pictures to bring theoretical reflections already known to scholars and professionals to an audience of non-specialists, others - like Pesce, De Lucchi, Bellini and Branzi - adopted avant-garde models, rejecting the traditional dictates of discourse and the classic canons of communication. Others, like Acconci and Superstudio, use video to stage absurd, impossible projects.In this original book edited by Vincenzo Trione we meet many architects for whom the cinema, in the words of Giulio Carlo Argan, is not just a "pure and simple system of knowledge", but a "newly established system of meaning", the "most structuring" of artistic techniques.
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Il cinema degli architetti

pages: 270 pages

This is a story of conversations that never took place and arrested developments; an adventurous tale, never yet fully told, whose protagonists include Le Corbusier and Walter Gropius, Charles and Ray Eames and Yona Friedman, Bruno Munari and Frank Lloyd Wright, Giancarlo De Carlo and Ludovico Quaroni, Emilio Ambasz and Ettore Sottsass, Gaetano Pes
Arte in TV
In the lengthy history of Italian TV art has had a place right from the start: 3 January 1954, when the RAI began broadcasting, was also the date of the first cultural programme, Le avventure dell’arte (The Adventures of Art). And it was indeed an adventure: the outstanding communicative potential of the new medium, which took high culture into many Italian homes for the first time, soon came up against the scepticism, if not downright boycott of a substantial part of critics and intellectuals, as well as navigatng the minefield of translating culture from one medium to another. Sixty years on, the scenario and the protagonists of this story are vastly different, with the presence of private broadcasters and pay tv greatly expanding what is on offer, not to mention the switch to digital, and the natural evolution of television language and personalities, including artists and critics. But while the context has changed, the issues regarding the relationship between art and TV remain the same, first and foremost the legitimacy of a popular medium to convey high-brow culture, and the small screen's approach to art, including the various forms of art education which are held to be the main and most obvious use of the medium. This aspect is the focus of the essays gathered in this book, some concerning the specific field of television communication and others focusing on art. Despite these different angles, what comes to the fore is the close relationship between the two most influential visual media of the late 20th century.
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Arte in TV

Forma di divulgazione

pages: 184 pages

In the lengthy history of Italian TV art has had a place right from the start: 3 January 1954, when the RAI began broadcasting, was also the date of the first cultural programme, Le avventure dell’arte (The Adventures of Art). And it was indeed an adventure: the outstanding communicative potential of the new medium, which took high culture into m
Scritti
Lucid exponent of the American New Topographics current in the 1970s, and constantly engaged in deconstructing the politics of places and representations, since his debut Lewis Baltz has combined his visual art with thoughtful critical - and self-critical - writings. The reflections gathered in this book offer various perspectives on his forty year career and the transatlantic context it developed in, with pieces that accompany the early topographical pieces, narratives embedded in the text-image works of the late 1980s, and a substantial series of essays devoted to some of the most important photographers and artists of the twentieth century. In the latter, attention to the enigmatic materiality of the works is combined with a cool, disenchanted critique of their cultural, and also political worth. In this vein there are essays dedicated to Walker Evans, Edward Weston, Robert Adams, Michael Schmidt, Allan Sekula, Thomas Ruff and Jeff Wall, which explore the potential and limits of modernist photography. The book also contains detailed appreciations of artists like Krzysztof Wodiczko, Félix González-Torres, Barry Le Va, Chris Burden, James Turrell and Robert Irwin, John McLaughlin and Alessandro Laita, contemporaries of Baltz's with whom he shared artistic and life experiences. The book also offers insights on more general issues, such as the landscape and cities "in the age of nothing special". While the gelid calm of Baltz's post-apocalyptic imagery helped purify the photograph of the last thirty years from the rhetorically opposing currents of social exposé and revelation, the harsh, even caustic tone of these writings continues to be relevant, challenging the presumed certainties upon which we base the institutions of art and photography.
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Scritti

Lewis Baltz

pages: 176 pages

Lucid exponent of the American New Topographics current in the 1970s, and constantly engaged in deconstructing the politics of places and representations, since his debut Lewis Baltz has combined his visual art with thoughtful critical - and self-critical - writings. The reflections gathered in this book offer various perspectives on his forty year
Cinema & Experience
Cinema studies have undergone such proliferation since the 1990s as to become an authentic academic discipline. Their object of investigation now appears, however, to be gradually dissolving into a flux of ever-changing, global and globalizing culture of the image, audiovisual, electronic, digital and web. Miriam Bratu Hansen goes back to the principle, to the clear-sighted critique of modernity developed by three pillars of 20th-century aesthetics, Kracauer, Benjamin and Adorno, on this particular medium: not on what cinema is but on what it does, on the particular sensory and mimetic experience that it makes possible for spectators. Starting, for example, from the Mickey Mouse cartoons, whose immense popularity Benjamin attributed simply to “the fact that the public recognizes its own life in them”. This is not therefore an ontology of cinema but an attempt to understand its role within evolving modernity, albeit with different perspectives and approaches. In point of fact, films make a substantial contribution to the reconfiguration of experience understood in its fullest sense of Erfahrung, as everyday life, social and working relationships, the economic and political spheres. Despite the competitive media environment into which it is embedded, cinema has survived, adapted and transformed itself. The recent opening of the digital frontier and the necessary rethinking of devices as well as fundamental film categories like movement and animation present a new challenge that is not, however, a threat. Having “burst this prison-world asunder with the dynamite of the tenth of a second”, cinema could reopen apparently closed chapters of aesthetics and restore their contemporary relevance.
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Cinema & Experience

Le teorie di Kracauer, Benjamin e Adorno

Miriam Bratu Hansen

pages: 416 pages

Cinema studies have undergone such proliferation since the 1990s as to become an authentic academic discipline. Their object of investigation now appears, however, to be gradually dissolving into a flux of ever-changing, global and globalizing culture of the image, audiovisual, electronic, digital and web. Miriam Bratu Hansen goes back to the prin
Hitler e il potere dell’estetica
Countless books have been written on Adolf Hitler. When CBS announced its intention of producing a film on his youth years ago, the almost unanimous chorus of protest that ensued can be summarised as saying: “We know who he was and what he did. What else is there to know?” Frederic Spotts offers an completely unprecedented view of Hitler and the Third Reich in a surprising examination of the Führer’s aims and huge machinery he built up around him. The key role of culture in his vision of the Arian super state has seldom been addressed. It was not the end to which power should aspire but a means to obtain it. From the spectacular mass rallies in Nuremberg to the imposing architectural works, from the musical festivals and his tormented relationship with Wagner to the policies of cleansing, from his own watercolours to the dream of opening an enormous art gallery in Linz: the artist manqué thus succeeded in expressing his talent by mesmerizing Germany and most of Europe. The only enemy that Hitler would not have imprisoned once the fighting was over but “left living comfortably in a fortress with permission to write his memoirs and paint” was Winston Churchill, the British officer who painted the ruins of a village during the Great War while Hitler immortalized a church on the other side of the river. Carl Burckhardt, the commissioner of the League of Nations in Danzig, who met the Führer twice in 1939 was therefore probably right to suggest that the dictator had a split personality: “the rather gentle artist” on the one hand and “the homicidal maniac” on the other. For obvious reasons, writers have concentrated on the homicidal maniac for over fifty years now. While in no way wishing to ignore the second Hitler, Spotts addresses the first.
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Hitler e il potere dell’estetica

Frederic Spotts

pages: 480 pages

Countless books have been written on Adolf Hitler. When CBS announced its intention of producing a film on his youth years ago, the almost unanimous chorus of protest that ensued can be summarised as saying: “We know who he was and what he did. What else is there to know?” Frederic Spotts offers an completely unprecedented view of Hitler and t
Louvre, mon amour
Do you have to set the Louvre on fire to establish yourself as one of the masters of your time? In order to answer this provocative question, in the 1960s the art critic Pierre Schneider invited eleven celebrated artists of the day, including Giacometti, Miró, Chagall and Steinberg, to accompany him one at a time through the museum’s sumptuous rooms. None of them refused the invitation and the truth that emerged still holds today. Far from torturing artists, the Louvre casts a spell on them that does not fade over time. Neither discouraged nor uplifted but if anything beguiled by the abyss separating them from the giants that live there, artists alone are capable of addressing them and entering into a dialogue between equals. Schneider records their every comment and gesture, even their silences and alternating moods, outlining the direction of their thinking in a few lines. Then, at just the right moment, comes the insidious question. The answers, sometimes scathing and sometimes admiring but never deferential, reveal uncommon acumen and great intimacy also with artists of a very different mature. We thus find Chagall unforeseeably moved by Courbet (“a great poet”) and irritated with Ingres (“too polished”), Giacometti enamoured of the Tintoretto self-portrait (“the most magnificent head in the Louvre”), and Miró onomatopoeically entranced, whistling with admiration at African mosaics. The eye of each glides over the works to plumb their material depths, comment on their “chemistry” and finally decide how they have stood up over time. These fascinating walks are informed by a spirit of reconciliation between old and new that explodes any notion of the museum as a warehouse of obsolete objects with nothing to say to contemporaries. The Louvre appears to its eleven extraordinary guests as a book from which you learn to read, a gymnasium to build up your strength, a school to hone your vision, the ideal cemetery, a time machine that eliminates millennial gaps, a bridge between past and present and above all the place where it is possible to address the greatest things created since the beginning of time.
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Louvre, mon amour

Undici grandi artisti in visita al museo più famoso del mondo

Pierre Schneider

pages: 192 pages

Do you have to set the Louvre on fire to establish yourself as one of the masters of your time? In order to answer this provocative question, in the 1960s the art critic Pierre Schneider invited eleven celebrated artists of the day, including Giacometti, Miró, Chagall and Steinberg, to accompany him one at a time through the museum’s sumptuous r

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