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Johan & Levi: Saggi d'arte

Breve storia della globalizzazione in arte
For at least a decade now, the Western art system has found itself faced in the international arena with new players who appear to want to play according to rules of their own making. The first inklings of change came in the 1980s, when art became a financial opportunity of global potential. Thanks to the use of more accessible languages, postmodern art appealed to increasingly vast audiences, prospering as it expanded onto new terrain: the soaring art market paved the way for the artwork becoming a status symbol, and a broadening of horizons to include countries like China, Russia and India, in search of recognition on the Western stage. The euphoria of that period, however, was soon dampened by the current climate of uncertainty, caused by the break-up of the old system and the declassing of its constituent parts – the intellectual component (the critics, who lent legitimacy to artistic practices) and the institutional component (the museums, which conserved the works for posterity). The current measure of success is the speculative spirit – in all senses – of the new players, who, with the ease of those used to wielding hefty amounts of capital, lay down the law in the closed circuit of gallery-collector-auction house-museum. Even artists, previously the system’s driving force, risk being reduced to the status of mere cogs in the machine. Well aware of the setting they operate in, they have acquiesced to the impoverishment brought about by globalisation: while in the past they sought to innovate, now they stick firmly to linguistic standards that are instantly recognisable in all corners of the globe. In this short work of global scope, which surveys the past in order to have insight into the complex transformations under way in the present, Marco Meneguzzo identifies the dividing line between before and after, namely between art as exclusive and elite and art as popular, globalised phenomenon, envisaging a future that wavers between a soft process of change in the art system and the conception of art itself, and a more apocalyptic scenario.
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Breve storia della globalizzazione in arte

(e delle sue conseguenze)

Marco Meneguzzo

pages: 176 pages

For at least a decade now, the Western art system has found itself faced in the international arena with new players who appear to want to play according to rules of their own making. The first inklings of change came in the 1980s, when art became a financial opportunity of global potential. Thanks to the use of more accessible languages, postmoder
Inside the White Cube
There was once the easel painting with a solid frame and a complete perspective system in which a illusion of reality was embedded. Then the Impressionist landscapes appeared on the horizon and began to give instructions to viewers as to where they must stand, the right distance for observation and the attitude to be adopted. But this was not the end. The huge canvases of the Abstract Expressionists, fraught with vital tension, expanded still further laterally and came to break through the border. The frame, now reduced to a parenthesis, dissolved to liberate illusion and its function was transferred as though by magic to the exhibition space. The time was ripe for Marcel Duchamp to hang 1,200 coal sacks from the ceiling of Galerie Beaux-Arts in 1938 and stand the visitors on their heads. For the first time the exhibition space was treated as a box, a display window to manipulate. Duchamp’s gesture “dispatches the bull of history with a single thrust”. The years go by and, as in an echo chamber, it will appear more successful all the time. The white cubebegins to devour the object. The context upstages the work exhibited and becomes a “chamber of transformation” that turns whatever enters it into art. The gallery can also remain empty, be filled with rubbish, remain closed for the entire period of the show, simulate a space of real life, be wrapped with tarpaulin and rope together with the entire museum building, host tableaux vivants or shocking happenings. The same scenes would probably not attract the slightest attention outside the white cube, but inside it even our everyday life – the café, the bedroom, the service station – becomes art, an experience that goes beyond looking. As though on board a spaceship, scrutinizing the Earth as it disappears on the horizon, Brian O’Doherty reconstructs a history of the art of the 20th century from the perspective of the evolution of the exhibition space, now to be regarded as the undisputed arena of discourse.
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Inside the White Cube

L'ideologia dello spazio espositivo

Brian O'Doherty

pages: 146 pages

There was once the easel painting with a solid frame and a complete perspective system in which a illusion of reality was embedded. Then the Impressionist landscapes appeared on the horizon and began to give instructions to viewers as to where they must stand, the right distance for observation and the attitude to be adopted. But this was not the e
Il blog
Begun in 2006 and closed down by the authorities three years later, the blog of the artist and architect Ai Weiwei came to attention at the international level as one of the most courageous cultural and political acts in contemporary China. An implacable critic of the ruling class in the tradition of the “public intellectuals” of the 20th century, Ai took up in his writings the demands for pluralism stifled in bloodshed in Tiananmen Square in 1989, using the Internet to protest against the material and moral consequences – concealed by the regime’s propaganda – of the Chinese model of development: the lack of political rights, the savage exploitation of labour, the destruction of the environment and historical memory, the violent repression of minorities, the arrogance and impunity of the rich and powerful, and the rigid control over public opinion. Defying censorship, Ai Weiwei created an unprecedented form of civil and cultural resistance. His posts alternate criticism and protest, discuss the latest artistic developments, mercilessly expose official hypocrisy and use humour and polemical verve to lay bare the lies, cynicism and resignation inculcated by an establishment that combines paternalism and harsh repression to keep its citizens in a state of eternal infancy in which the rituals of consumerism have replaced the permanent mobilization of Mao’s era. Now translated into Italian, Ai Weiwei’s blog also constitutes proof of the power of art as a tool of resistance and regeneration. Renewing the impulse of the modern avant-garde, his digital diary becomes a means of collective mobilization, a “social sculpture” that transcends the boundaries of traditional creativity to raise urgent questions about the role and responsibility of the artist, the spectator and indeed all of us. A living sculpture, an agent of transformation of the world thanks to which the dimension of the multitude that characterizes our social field can acquire self-awareness and discover its strength, finding the essential value of truth once again and with it the possibility of a different time and space in keeping with the needs of more complete and freer human beings.
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Il blog

Scritti, interviste, invettive, 2006-2009

Ai Weiwei

pages: 392 pages

Begun in 2006 and closed down by the authorities three years later, the blog of the artist and architect Ai Weiwei came to attention at the international level as one of the most courageous cultural and political acts in contemporary China. An implacable critic of the ruling class in the tradition of the “public intellectuals” of the 20th centu
Americani per sempre
Paris, 1 July 1867, the inauguration of the Universal Exposition. With the end of the American Civil War, the landscape painters, members of the first authentic American school, returned to Europe convinced that they deserved praise, prizes and medals. Rather than acclaim, however, it was bitter humiliation that awaited them. The French critics shattered their dreams of glory with cruel, sarcastic comments on the large canvases crammed with majestic waterfalls, age-old trees and boundless horizons, pouring scorn on the best that a nation eager to assert itself in the arts as in the economic field had to offer. The American exhibition, said the French, “is unworthy of the sons of Washington … young and crude, in the midst of our old cultures it gives the impression of a giant lost in a dancehall”. The unexpected humiliation led first of all to self-examination and criticism. Why was the land of Melville and Poe unable to produce painters with the expressive power of its greatest writers? What should the painters of a young nation do to earn the respect of the Old World? Was it possible to bridge the abyss between them and European art? For the time being there was no choice. They were forced to bow to the tastes of the French, the undisputed arbiters of world painting. In actual fact, the Parisian failure of 1867 became a stimulus that prompted the “sons of Washington” to transform the defeat suffered into a challenge. American painters set off for France in their hundreds and settled in Paris, where they attend the course of masters like Gérôme and Cabanel. They then founded new “colonies” of artists, like the legendary one at Pont-Aven in Brittany. The success of the greatest amongst them, including Whistler, Sargent and Cassatt, paved the way for a host of others. Backed at home by the colossal resources of philanthropists and patrons of the arts as well as extraordinary museums such as the MoMA in New York, they succeeded in surpassing Paris in the space of two generations and making America the new home of art, the pulsating centre of world painting that was also to attract renowned French artists. The epic tale of American painters recounted by Cohen-Solal moves from Paris to New York, Giverny to Chicago and Pont-Aven to Taos. The turning point came with the 1948 Venice Biennial and the first-ever exhibition in Europe of eight canvases by a largely unknown artist, namely Jackson Pollock, soon to be acclaimed all over the world as the first absolute master of American painting.
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Americani per sempre

I pittori di un mondo nuovo: Parigi 1867 - New York 1948

Annie Cohen-Solal

pages: 500 pages

Paris, 1 July 1867, the inauguration of the Universal Exposition. With the end of the American Civil War, the landscape painters, members of the first authentic American school, returned to Europe convinced that they deserved praise, prizes and medals. Rather than acclaim, however, it was bitter humiliation that awaited them. The French critics sha
L'avventura del modernismo
This volume offers the broadest Italian collection of writings by Clement Greenberg (1909–94), an essential author for anyone with an interest in the period full of formal revolutions that saw the quick succession of artistic avant-garde movements as from the late 19th century. One of the most influential and controversial figures in 20th-century American art criticism, Greenberg bore witness to the decline of the three-dimensional illusionism of easel painting and the gradual triumph of abstract art leading up to the goal of radical flatness, which he saw as the hallmark of modernism. One of the first to sense the shattering importance of the painting of Jackson Pollock and the American Abstract Expressionists, he subsequently endorsed the practitioners of Post-Painterly Abstraction, including Morris Louis and Kenneth Noland. With a corpusof over three hundred essays, Greenberg’s militant criticism accompanied more than forty years of new American art and made a crucial contribution to New York’s replacement of Paris as the world capital of art. The texts are selected here in order to highlight the European cast of his critical thought. The influence of Kant and Trotsky as well as Italian thinkers like Croce and Lionello Venturi can be discerned in a critic capable of taking an exemplary approach to the development of modernism in the visual arts and asserting its values of objectivity. Alongside an acute socio-cultural analysis of the phenomenon of mass culture and its social consequences, Greenberg addressed longstanding questions such as those beauty and quality and objective values in art prompted by the urgent need to oppose the degradation of kitsch and academicism. An undisputed champion of American art and highly controversial figure, Greenberg still remains a primary interpreter of modernism. Over fifteen years after his death, his legacy of writings is an indispensable aid to orientation in the complex artistic panorama of the second half of the 20th century.
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L'avventura del modernismo

Antologia critica

Clement Greenberg

pages: 448 pages

This volume offers the broadest Italian collection of writings by Clement Greenberg (1909–94), an essential author for anyone with an interest in the period full of formal revolutions that saw the quick succession of artistic avant-garde movements as from the late 19th century. One of the most influential and controversial figures in 20th-century

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