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Museum and Museums

Lo strano caso di Francesco Mancinelli Scotti

publisher: Johan & Levi

pages: 656 pages

Count Francesco Mancinelli Scotti, descendent of an Umbrian noble family fallen on hard times, was gripped at roughly age forty by an “insane passion” for archaeology and digs, leading him to devote his next forty years to “devastating” northern Lazio. A man of momentous impulses, such as his enlistment with Garibaldi’s forces at age twen

L'inarrestabile ascesa dei musei privati

Georgina Adam

publisher: Johan & Levi

pages: 96 pages

In the 21st century, the private museum has become a cultural, social and economic phenomenon of global scale. Over the last twenty years, a fulsome landscape of successful modern-art institutions has been created by collectors, even businesses, with noteworthy examples being the museums of François Pinault, as well as foundations affiliated with

La Mamma

Una mostra di Harald Szeemann mai realizzata

Pietro Rigolo

publisher: Johan & Levi

pages: 64 pages

After serving as the Kunsthalle Bern’s youngest-ever director, and as the general secretary of documenta 5 (Kassel, 1972), Harald Szeemann severed his ties with the institutional world, taking a radically different approach to the form and content of exhibitions by expanding their focus to include not just the modern art on display, but also priv
In September of 1988, a young Nathalie Heinich went to see Harald Szeemann in his studio in Monte Verità. She interviewed him, seeking confirmation of her feeling that the figure of the curator increasingly resembled that of the artist. And who better to tell her than Harald Szeemann, whose thirty years of curating exhibitions brought forth an approach all his own?Once the youngest-ever Director of the Kunsthalle Bern, Szeemann was also the General Secretary of documenta 5 in Kassel (1972), but he attained mythical status with the ground-breaking “When Attitudes Become Form”, a cathartic 1969 exhibition that broke with the past, in search of a new aesthetic. Among curators-creators, Szeemann is a “case apart”, thanks to an inimitable style that, found far from the beaten path, always heeded his own instincts, shifting the focus from the official value of a given work to an almost sentimental relationship with the artist and the materials on exhibit. A curator-creator must rely on his or her sixth sense, on private obsessions, focussing not on career advancement but on subjects that they, and they alone, can address.In defending his or her uniquely personal outlook, the curator moulds the contents of each exhibition, as well as the logical link between one exhibition and another, establishing a magnum opus which increasingly resembles one large, personal work driven by an intimate necessity, fuelled by the scenarios of a biographical arc, and not simply by chance or the dictates of an institutional program.
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Harald Szeemann

Un caso singolare

Nathalie Heinich

publisher: Johan & Levi

pages: 69 pages

In September of 1988, a young Nathalie Heinich went to see Harald Szeemann in his studio in Monte Verità. She interviewed him, seeking confirmation of her feeling that the figure of the curator increasingly resembled that of the artist. And who better to tell her than Harald Szeemann, whose thirty years of curating exhibitions brought forth an app
«Architects must be in touch with living, because living is everything»: words that would appear to have been on Lina Bo Bardi’s mind as early as 1946, when boarded a ship to Rio de Janeiro, her eyes filled with curiosity and her mind open, leaving behind the ruins of an Italy devastated by war. Travelling inside her were both Achillina, the impertinent girl marked by her disdain for the social mores and rules of her time, and Lina Bo, the young, tenacious professional who, following her university studies under Marcello Piacentini in Rome, went to Milan to fight for her independence in a world of men, becoming Deputy Director of Domus magazine while winning the esteem of Gio Ponti, Bruno Zevi and her future husband, Pietro Maria Bardi.Translating into thought and practice an existence in constant flux, Lina gave full expression to her original voice as an architect, designer, curator and set designer in Brazil. Her best known buildings – the Museu de Arte de São Paulo, the Casa de Vidro, and the SESC Pompéia centre – reflect a focus on the collective, on ties to nature and folk traditions, making for extremely modern, unconventional architecture.The result of twenty years of research, Zeuler R. Lima’s portrait grasps the complexity of a woman who shunned the beaten path, journeying through her own contradictions without hesitation, tossed back and forth between her revolutionary impulses and the incurable melancholy of her soul. The author does not shy away from the more sombre side of her life, inevitably visible even in the photo of Lina on the deck of the ship on which she crossed the Atlantic, in keeping with the epithet coined for her by Valentino Bompiani, “the tired goddess”: a solitary rebel whose intellectual legacy is more alive today than ever.
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La dea stanca

Vita di Lina Bo Bardi

Zeuler R. Lima

publisher: Johan & Levi

pages: 396 pages

«Architects must be in touch with living, because living is everything»: words that would appear to have been on Lina Bo Bardi’s mind as early as 1946, when boarded a ship to Rio de Janeiro, her eyes filled with curiosity and her mind open, leaving behind the ruins of an Italy devastated by war. Travelling inside her were both Achillina, the im
This book presents the proceedings of two international conferences on the Etruscan heritage and collecting in Europe from the 16th to the 19th century held in the splendid setting of the Palazzone di Cortona (1–2 November 2014 and 29–31 January 2016). Organized by the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa and the Municipal Council of Cortona, these events marked the culmination of the research project “The Etruscan Academy of Cortona: Collecting and the Republic of Letters in 18th-Century Europe”, supervised by Maurizio Ghelardi and directed by Ilaria Bianchi. Great scholarly importance attaches to the conferences, which addressed subjects connected with museology and collecting that have become a focus of antiquarian interest in recent years. The Etruscan world and collecting are also at the centre of the work of the Fondazione Luigi Rovati, whose Etruscan museum in Milan endeavours to play an active part in the study and valorization of the archaeological heritage, not least by developing solid relations with academic institutions inside and outside Italy. This approach could hardly fail to include Cortona and the Accademia Etrusca, with which collaboration has been established in support of research and scholarly debate. The Fondazione Luigi Rovati readily espoused the project of publishing the contributions of the scholars present at the conferences as a preliminary step towards in-depth examination of the processes whereby the collections of the major Italian and European museums were built up.
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Collezionisti, accademie, musei: storie del mondo etrusco dal XVI al XIX secolo

Atti dei convegni internazionali "La tradizione etrusca e il collezionismo in Europa dal XVI al XIX secolo", Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa, 2014-2016

publisher: Johan & Levi

pages: 343 pages

This book presents the proceedings of two international conferences on the Etruscan heritage and collecting in Europe from the 16th to the 19th century held in the splendid setting of the Palazzone di Cortona (1–2 November 2014 and 29–31 January 2016). Organized by the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa and the Municipal Council of Cortona, these
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

publisher: Johan & Levi

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
In the guise of the flâneur and a situationist, Calum Storrie embarks on an imaginary voyage of discovery of different cities and eras that see him explore a series of environments – public places, architecture, but also historical exhibitions and artworks – all of which are possible embodiments of the concept of the “delirious museum”. The quintessential elusive place, the Delirious Museum reinterprets or redefines the traditional model by means of a détournement that takes shape in the rejection of a linear narrative in favour of a disarticulated form, composed – like art itself – of an anachronistic montage of traces and fragments. These are the echoes of a city that has invaded the museum (but also the contrary), thrusting it into life and bringing fluidity and change to its meanings. The theft of the Mona Lisa in 1911 marked the first sign of contagion. Taken out into the streets, Leonardo’s masterpiece became nomadic and entered modernity. The Surrealists took possession of it for their own ends: Duchamp added a moustache and beard, while Dalí transformed it into a self-portrait. With the return of the painting, the germ of the Delirious Museum had now entered the Louvre, spreading from its corridors throughout the streets of that Paris already explored by Baudelaire, and later by Benjamin, Aragon and Breton. A dreamlike and porous city, endowed with slots that offer glimpses of parallel realities, born out of chance and a certain degree of chaos. On the trail of potential derivations, the author encounters installations by El Lissitzky and Kiesler and the objets trouvés of Cornell and Warhol, losing himself in the Soane collection, in the museum architecture of Libeskind and the museum-maze of Carlo Scarpa. Ultimately, it is with Postmodernism that the Delirious Museum reaches the peak of its various interpretations: from the designs by Gehry and Koolhas, to spectacular city-spectacles such as Los Angeles and Las Vegas. The receptacle of anecdotes and arcane facts, this book-wunderkammer re-examines the evanescent boundaries between museums and the cities that contain them. It does so by means of a rhizomatic narration that, by imitating what it describes, proceeds from the present to the past before returning to the present-day and, lastly, establishing a symbiotic relationship between space and its memory.
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Delirious Museum

Un viaggio dal Louvre a Las Vegas

Calum Storrie

publisher: Johan & Levi

pages: 256 pages

In the guise of the flâneur and a situationist, Calum Storrie embarks on an imaginary voyage of discovery of different cities and eras that see him explore a series of environments – public places, architecture, but also historical exhibitions and artworks – all of which are possible embodiments of the concept of the “delirious museum”. Th
The future of the public museum has never seemed more at risk: rather than representing the diverse interests of society as a whole, in most cases it has been reduced to a vehicle for promoting block-buster events and protecting the privileges of private concerns, giving rise to temples of amusement and entertainment that are unable to grasp the actual historic moment in its entirety. Apart, that is, from the odd happy but rare exception. In this short essay, Claire Bishop talks about the experience of three European institutions of contemporary art – the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, the Museo Nacional Reina Sofía in Madrid and the MSUM in Ljubljana – which have dealt with the challenge of cuts to public funding dictated by austerity measures by making a virtue of necessity and developing brilliant alternatives to the dominant mantra of “bigger and better, and, if possible, also more profitable”. Through enlightened policies regarding the acquisition of new work and the display of their own permanent collection, these museums have turned themselves into places dedicated to experimentation, capable of using their own resources to put together a critical discourse and cast a political eye on the current period in history. In re-opening discussion of a heated international debate, Museologia Radicale outlines a manifesto for a new concept of contemporary, which should be seen as a practice and not merely as periodization, favouring a reinterpretation of the museum’s role as an institution charged with preserving cultural heritage, at the same time providing a critical voice that can interrogate the present and contribute to creating a different future.
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Museologia radicale

Ovvero, cos'è “contemporaneo” nei musei di arte contemporanea?

Claire Bishop

publisher: Johan & Levi

pages: 88 pages

The future of the public museum has never seemed more at risk: rather than representing the diverse interests of society as a whole, in most cases it has been reduced to a vehicle for promoting block-buster events and protecting the privileges of private concerns, giving rise to temples of amusement and entertainment that are unable to grasp the ac
The work of art and the space around it exist in a relationship of close interdependence: this essay looks at this symbiotic relationship by means of an extensive and detailed account of the major avant-garde installational and environmental experiments right up to the present. It traces the evolution of the art system and the itinerary that led to the post-modern paradox whereby the placing of any artefact in a particular context is, on its own, enough for it to be transformed into an artistic device. It is the chronicle of a relationship in constant tension, the one between text and context, between content and container. And testing it, bringing about the evolution, not only of art, but also of the characteristics of the exhibition spaces, are always and above all the most avant-garde artists. Their investigations are structured within a dense dialogue with real space, which is gradually involved in a constitutive way in the creation of the works. The first stage is to overcome the conventional limits of the pedestal and the frame: the painting, unadorned, comes into the world to receive fragments of reality within its enclosure. It cites the emblematic case of Fontana, who in the post-war years invaded the surrounding area to give life to the first works created using space and light alone. It moves on to the creation of installations that have a great impact on the environment – often site-specific with process artists, exponents of arte povera, conceptualists and land art among others. And finally reaches an awareness, nowadays totally taken for granted, that the work of art should find its raison d’être in relation to the setting and to the interplay between them. The discussion is both clear and systematic, also documenting the most paradigmatic exhibitions and international shows including the most recent ones. But nor does the author ignore the importance of the curators, now omnipresent figures due to their ability (real or presumed) to stage shows that are seen as creative productions in their own right, subordinating the space of the work of art to the space managed by them.
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Mettere in scena l'arte contemporanea

Dallo spazio dell'opera allo spazio intorno all'opera

Francesco Bernardelli, Francesco Poli

publisher: Johan & Levi

pages: 264 pages

The work of art and the space around it exist in a relationship of close interdependence: this essay looks at this symbiotic relationship by means of an extensive and detailed account of the major avant-garde installational and environmental experiments right up to the present. It traces the evolution of the art system and the itinerary that led to

Curatori d'assalto

L'irrefrenabile impulso alla curatela nel mondo dell'arte e in tutto il resto

David Balzer

publisher: Johan & Levi

pages: 168 pages

From image makers to playlists, from gourmet menus to singing festivals and even VIP weddings, nowadays everything is “curated by”, and “curate”, “curator” and related terms are on the lips and on the curriculum of everyone who wants to make an impression and stand out from the crowd. Whereas even the most disparate companies have adopt
Inaugurated in May 2010 to great public acclaim, and placed in receivership in May 2012 for budgetary imbalances, the MAXXI is currently in the laborious process of getting back on its feet with a different board of directors. This text is a cautionary tale of over-ambitious projects, managerial shortcomings, erratic funding and  political decisions taken without a detailed analysis of costs and benefits for the community. In the incongruous position of being a state-owned museum run by a private foundation, the MAXXI was launched without a clear, convincing cultural raison d'être, compared to similar bodies which boast a greater social utility.Alessandro Monti reconstructs the political and bureaucratic implications of creating a museum "on paper", and the controversial aspects of an administration that had to contend with an excess of competing museum spaces and an unsuitable container: designed by renowned Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid at a cost to the Treasury of over one hundred and eighty million euro, the imposing concrete building has proved to be more spectacular than functional.This in-depth investigation of the MAXXI's crucial issues and weaknesses concludes with a series of possible solutions to the current problems, and various proposals to improve future performance, rethinking the Foundation's strategic priorities and overall game plan in organisational, operational and relational terms. Moving forward, it will be important to ensure greater transparency and get the staff more involved in the management of the museum, as well as taking a more selective approach to the exhibition programme, capitalising above all on the permanent collections. and finally making the MAXXI a national landmark.
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Il MAXXI a raggi X

Indagine sulla gestione privata di un museo pubblico

Alessandro Monti

publisher: Johan & Levi

pages: 96 pages

Inaugurated in May 2010 to great public acclaim, and placed in receivership in May 2012 for budgetary imbalances, the MAXXI is currently in the laborious process of getting back on its feet with a different board of directors. This text is a cautionary tale of over-ambitious projects, managerial shortcomings, erratic funding and  political decisio

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