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Critics

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

publisher: Johan & Levi

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
This work in praise of the “funny guy” Francis Picabia as the inventor of Pop Art was born out of the posthumous discovery of a set of twelve ink drawings on paper that he produced in 1923. Intended as covers for André Breton’s literary revue Littérature but never published, the drawings are copies of advertisements taken from magazines and department store brochures complete with the name and price of the article concerned. Picabia added his initials to this simple advertising material, perhaps as an ironic comment on his inability to sell himself and perhaps to play down the failure of his show at the Dalmau gallery in Barcelona, which Breton witnessed. They mark a stylistic and thematic turning point with respect to the artist’s previous projects. Picabia was the first to use marketing material as a strategy of artistic subversion, elevating crude advertising to the status of artwork. He thus invented Pop Art and can be seen as a forerunner of Warhol, Lichtenstein and Rosenquist. The author reconstructs the context and circumstances in which the drawings were poduced. The period 1922–23 saw the implosion of the Dada movement and its drift into Surrealism, the publication of Littérature as a forum for the artists and writers involved to air their sometimes conflicting views, the friendship and collaboration between Picabia and Breton, and the journey by car to Barcelona for the show at the Galerie Dalmau preceded by a lecture at the Ateneu Barcelonés. This is not a text for specialists and the author, while addressing a little-known and highly specific part of Picabia’s superabundant and kaleidoscopic oeuvre, succeeds in introducing the ordinary reader to the artist’s universe and the context in which he worked. Lebel is no denigrator of American Pop Art. Picabia’s drawings had yet to be rediscovered and were never seen by Warhol and the other Pop artists. There is thus no suggestion that the Americans “stole” the idea from him. The text is accompanied by a previously unpublished material in the shape of a letter from Picabia to Breton dated 1923 and a drawing of the same year that accompanied it.    
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Elogio di "Funny Guy" Picabia, inventore della Pop Art

Jean-Jacques Lebel

publisher: Johan & Levi

pages: 52 pages

This work in praise of the “funny guy” Francis Picabia as the inventor of Pop Art was born out of the posthumous discovery of a set of twelve ink drawings on paper that he produced in 1923. Intended as covers for André Breton’s literary revue Littérature but never published, the drawings are copies of advertisements taken from magazines and
The machine and the star, emblems bequeathed by Duchamp to the second half of the 20th century, provide the basis for three short essays on the theme of inspiration and its intermittency, a crucial point for the modernist tradition that is often overlooked by scholars. Michele Dantini seeks to shed new light on the metaphor of the artist as machine and how the first ready-mades (c. 1913) undermined the creative process as an ordered professional routine that had traditionally characterized the transposition of idea into image. Though liberating in some respects, this revolution also had alarming implications experienced in all their urgency by the Art Informel generation. How to find protection against the discontinuity of inspiration? How to endow interior time with duration if everything boils down to the unrepeatable exceptionality of the instant? Ranging from the American movements of the 1950s to Conceptual Art and Arte Povera, Michele Dantini focuses on three fundamental stages, namely Duchamp’s “monster works”, the flags and the rotating devices of Jasper Johns, and the drawings and embroideries of Arrigo Boetti. The reinvention of the artist’s profession is analyzed step by step: the curious adoption of the ready-made in order to restore plausibility and vigour to traditional techniques; the indefinite dilation of the time of execution: the art of repetition and the creation of satisfying routines (series, catalogues and encyclopaedias) through “automatic” procedures that are impersonal and can even be delegated. It is the task of the “wretched viewers” and their perspicacity to identify continuity in transition within the works, to reconstruct the underlying metaphors and “to interpret a routine suddenly swept clean of recognizable points of reference and techniques”.
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Macchina e stella

Tre studi su arte, storia dell'arte e clandestinità: Duchamp, Johns, Boetti

Michele Dantini

publisher: Johan & Levi

pages: 96 pages

The machine and the star, emblems bequeathed by Duchamp to the second half of the 20th century, provide the basis for three short essays on the theme of inspiration and its intermittency, a crucial point for the modernist tradition that is often overlooked by scholars. Michele Dantini seeks to shed new light on the metaphor of the artist as machine

Di tutto un pop

Un percorso fra arte e scrittura nell'opera di Mike Kelley

Marco Enrico Giacomelli

publisher: Johan & Levi

pages: 72 pages

Known primarily as a visual artist, Mike Kelley was in actual fact an irrepressible, multifaceted figure. In addition to using the most varied means of expression, from drawing to video, performance and installation, he often went beyond the traditional boundaries of the work by incorporating writing in the creative process and producing statements
Joachim Schmidt (Balingen, 1955), paradoxically known as “the photographer who takes no photographs”, has worked with photography since the early 1980s without producing any images of his own. Asserted in 1989 on the 150th anniversary of the invention of this medium, the principle of taking no new photographs until use has been made of those already existing is one to which he still adheres. In the present-day civilization of images characterized by an ever-greater proliferation of photographs to the point of habituation and meaninglessness, Schmidt has decided to halt production and confine himself to seeking out, collecting and using photographs already taken by others. This boundless material also include picture cards, exhibition invitations, posters, postcards, photos found in flea markets and archives, and images downloaded from websites and social networks. The German artist captures them from the great flow of contemporary communication, files them, appropriates them, combines them with one another and sometimes manipulates them in search of possible new meanings. A collector, recycling enthusiast, cataloguer and environmentalist therefore rather than a photographer, Schmid has left his imprint on theoretical debate about this medium. His stance combines two fundamental themes of contemporary art, namely Duchamp’s idea of the ready-made and the “death of the author” envisaged by Roland Barthes. Having investigated all the forms of mass photography and all of the different associated languages, He has probably seen but above all used more images than anyone else in the world over the last few decades. His new and ironic call today is therefore for people not to stop taking photographs.
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Joachim Schmid e le fotografie degli altri

publisher: Johan & Levi

pages: 88 pages

Joachim Schmidt (Balingen, 1955), paradoxically known as “the photographer who takes no photographs”, has worked with photography since the early 1980s without producing any images of his own. Asserted in 1989 on the 150th anniversary of the invention of this medium, the principle of taking no new photographs until use has been made of those al
Pino Pascali blazed like a shooting star in the history of Italian art. Born in Bari in 1935 and killed just thirty-three years later in a car crash, he is regarded as one of Italy’s most innovative avant-garde artists of the post-war period together with Boetti and Manzoni. Despite his very short career, he won almost unanimous acclaim in his lifetime through the staggering originality of his talent. In 1968, a few months after his death, the Venice Biennial devoted a room to his work and posthumous recognition soon followed with a series of international prizes and shows in the most illustrious museums of contemporary art. His work now sells for millions. This book focuses solely on Pascali’s plastic art of the period 1964–68 with brief mentions of his activities in the spheres of advertising, stage design, drawing and performance. In defining the formal processes of his sculpture, Tonelli deliberately eschews exegetic stratifications designed to mythicize the artist and impede effective understanding of his work. Setting aside all curiosity about Pascali as a man and his legend, the author examines his work in thematic and chronological terms, addresses the numerous interpretations put forward by critics and uses Pascali’s own statements to redefine the field of action and meaning of his visual language and trace its origins and precedents. While Magritte, Savinio and De Chirico constitute inescapable points of reference, Pascali is embedded in a wholly contemporary context, playful, iconoclastic and adaptable, looking forward to some avant-garde movements of the period and possessing an intuitive grasp of the relations between exhibition space, the theatrical nature of exhibition and the limits of sculpture. The book thus attempts the necessary operation of freeing Pino Pascali from his own myth and correcting a partial and misleading image. The reader will discover that the artist’s work is far less ingenuous, child-like, primordial and wild than previously believed.
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Pino Pascali

Il libero gioco della scultura

Marco Tonelli

publisher: Johan & Levi

pages: 144 pages

Pino Pascali blazed like a shooting star in the history of Italian art. Born in Bari in 1935 and killed just thirty-three years later in a car crash, he is regarded as one of Italy’s most innovative avant-garde artists of the post-war period together with Boetti and Manzoni. Despite his very short career, he won almost unanimous acclaim in his li
Photography has come to be identified internationally with the artistic production of Düsseldorf over the last few decades, and the consolidated Düsseldorf School today epitomizes excellence in its highly varied and innovative practice of the medium. The extraordinary success of this phenomenon, developed in a very precise geographic and artistic context, has not given rise as yet, however, to in-depth examination. This book intends to fill the gap with an organic study of a German movement that is comparable in terms of global impact and resonance solely to the Bauhaus in the 1920s. It all started with Bernd and Hilla Becher, who inaugurated the photography course at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf in 1976, precisely when their “typologies” were gaining recognition on the national and international artistic scene. Starting from the renewal of documentary photography pursued by the Bechers with the utmost coherence and commitment, the three generations of artists of the Düsseldorf School have broadened the photographic horizons considerably, venturing with their works into the spheres of multimedia experimentation and digital art. Highly prized on the market and sought after by the world’s leading museums, the works of the Bechers’ former students shed light today on the future developments of the art of photography. Eleven different aesthetic stances and eleven very personal approaches to harnessing the medium’s potential are gathered together in a book that presents the most significant photographs selected jointly with the individual artists concerned. The text by Stefan Gronert (1964) examines the phenomenon and focuses on the members of the Düsseldorf School. An art historian, curator at the Bonn Kunstmuseum since 1993, teacher in the art history department of Bonn University since 2001 and lecturer in the universities of Dresden and Cologne, Gronert has written numerous publications and papers on the photography of the 20th and 21st century.
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La Scuola di Düsseldorf

Fotografia contemporanea tedesca

Stefan Gronert

publisher: Johan & Levi

pages: 320 pages

Photography has come to be identified internationally with the artistic production of Düsseldorf over the last few decades, and the consolidated Düsseldorf School today epitomizes excellence in its highly varied and innovative practice of the medium. The extraordinary success of this phenomenon, developed in a very precise geographic and artistic
Following the logic of arriving at a definition through pairs of opposites (light/heavy, playful/serious), in this book Massimo Minini analyses and compares two artists who have come to symbolise German art at the turn of the millennium: Anselm Kiefer and Hans-Peter Feldmann. On one side we have Kiefer, the impeccable heir of an art firmly rooted in Expressionism, manifesting sentiments and moods that, under the influence of Jung and Freud, Wagner and Goethe, Hans Baldung and Lukas Cranach, are necessarily profound, weighty and solemn. Kiefer arouses dormant spectres and opts for grandeur in his formats, materials and subject matter (barbed wire, cheval de frise, and sweeping, matter-heavy vistas of ploughed fields). In his world everything is about heaviness, gravity and will. On the other side there is Feldmann, who takes a somewhat lighter view: art is of course a serious matter, but there is no need to overdo it. This curious, ironic and at times bizarre German gentleman was one of the early conceptual artists, but lacked the solemnity of his colleagues, so much so that few took him seriously at the time. So few, indeed, that by the early 1980s his lack of success led to him leaving art altogether, and devoting himself to other things for around a decade. It was Kaspar Konig’s offer of an exhibition in Frankfurt that set his career in motion once more, leading to his present day success and acclaim. The encounter/clash between these two emblems of opposite rationales offers a complex image of a nation’s visual culture.
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Kiefer e Feldmann

Eroi e antieroi nell'arte tedesca contemporanea

Massimo Minini

publisher: Johan & Levi

pages: 68 pages

Following the logic of arriving at a definition through pairs of opposites (light/heavy, playful/serious), in this book Massimo Minini analyses and compares two artists who have come to symbolise German art at the turn of the millennium: Anselm Kiefer and Hans-Peter Feldmann. On one side we have Kiefer, the impeccable heir of an art firmly rooted

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