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Panoramas

Archivi impossibili
Well before the spread of social networks and recording methods turned all of us into potential archivists, contemporary artists came up with new cataloguing systems using the languages and media available to them, often taking inspiration from the visual compendia and “portable museums” of illustrious 19th century predecessors, such as Warburg’s Bilderatlas and Malraux’s imaginary museum. From Gerhard Richter’s atlas, a collection of thousands of images used as iconographic sources for painting, to Hanne Darboven’s album, a monumental cosmology that condenses personal history and collective memory, to Marcel Broodthaers’ museum, a clever critique of art institutions, to Hans Haacke’s archive, a method of research and socio-political commitment: the archival furore took possession of artistic practice. That behind every taxonomic urge is a desire for order, a search for identity, impatience with the traditional organization of knowledge and power, or simply a horror vacui that urges disposophobics to create sanctuaries for the banal, basically there is always a need to restore a deeper logic to relics and traces; collected, assembled and reinserted in a new context, they take on an unexpected value. So the archive is no longer just an inert pile of documents which gives rise to the unease that Derrida associated with the mnestic process, but becomes, in a Foucaultian sense, a critical device capable of regenerating the customary logic of safeguarding, using and spreading knowledge, of reactivating memory and political awareness. From this point of view, the artist becomes the principal actor of social and cultural change. In this book Cristina Baldacci ranges over the long, involved history of archives, putting together the rich mosaic of roles and meanings that the archive has assumed over time, elucidating its relevance as work of art, and therefore as a classification system that is atypical and, in a sense, impossible.   
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Archivi impossibili

Un'ossessione dell'arte contemporanea

Cristina Baldacci

pages: 224

Well before the spread of social networks and recording methods turned all of us into potential archivists, contemporary artists came up with new cataloguing systems using the languages and media available to them, often taking inspiration from the visual compendia and “portable museums” of illustrious 19th century predecessors, such as Warburg
Mettere in scena l'arte contemporanea
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

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
Superfici
In a culture marked by the virtual and rapidly changing new media, what is the place of the surface, the very expression of a physical substance? A border area between internal and external worlds, a threshold that separates the visual from the tactile, the surface is also and above all a place of material relations. In order to discover the materiality of the images that fill the contemporary and grasp their significance, it is therefore essential to explore the space of these relations and how they are mediated through surfaces that may take on the features of skin, of a dress, of a cinema screen or of a canvas, and even the screens of the electronic devices that dominate our daily lives. In following the thread of these encounters we discover how the visual is structured and understand that the image is not just a two-dimensional element, but something porous, an epidermis that absorbs time, a place where forms of memory and transformation can find expression; it is a device for bringing distant space-time dimensions together. Delving deep into the object relations between art, architecture, fashion, design, cinema and new media, Giuliana Bruno asks questions about the concept of materiality and its many manifestations. Surface is a magisterial wandering through contemporary visual culture; a walk that traverses the light spaces of artists such as Robert Irwin, James Turrell, Tacita Dean and Anthony McCall, touches the tactile surfaces of the cinema screens of Isaac Julien, Sally Potter and Wong Kar-wai and travels across materiality in the architectural practices of Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Herzog & de Meuron to the art of Doris Salcedo and Rachel Whiteread, where the surface tension of media becomes concrete. It is a dissertation that manages to dispel a myth – that the surface is something superficial.
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Superfici

A proposito di estetica, materialità e media

Giuliana Bruno

pages: 320 pages

In a culture marked by the virtual and rapidly changing new media, what is the place of the surface, the very expression of a physical substance? A border area between internal and external worlds, a threshold that separates the visual from the tactile, the surface is also and above all a place of material relations. In order to discover the materi
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

Atlante delle emozioni

In viaggio tra arte, architettura e cinema

Giuliana Bruno

pages: 592 pages

Traversing a varied and enchanting landscape with forays into the fields of geography, art, architecture, design, cartography and film, Giuliana Bruno’s Atlante delle emozioni is a highly original endeavor to map a cultural history of spatio-visual arts. In an evocative montage of words and pictures she emphasizes that “sight” and “site”
La collezione come forma d’arte
If it can be said that every era has its own approach to collecting, the contemporary period is marked by a reciprocal bond with artistic practice, to the point that the two activities often overlap or even merge. Examples abound: from Joseph Cornell, who hunted down oddities to put in his mysterious boxes, to Claes Oldenburg, who exhibited a collection of sentimental items as a work in its own right; from Marcel Broodthaers, who was inspired by collecting to become an artist, to Hans-Peter Feldmann who, channelling Malraux, has long been cutting out, classifying and sticking images to create an unusual museum. Collecting is no longer just the preserve of non-artists accumulating large quantities of objects, but has become a means of expression for artists who gather things to construct works of art, inspired by Warburg’s notion of assemblage. From another point of view, collectors are artists who express themselves using images charged with symbolism that become an extension of their personas. As soon as the eye alights on them, the objects gain extra properties: stripped of their original function and knowingly combined, they interact in an organic whole that resists defacement. And thus the collection rises to the status of work of art. Eclectic, transversal and highly personal, these collections are poles apart from the closed, predestined world of museum collections. It is to this private, creative dimension that Elio Grazioli refers in his exploration of collecting, from the Wunderkammer to the collage and the assemblage: collecting not to serve a purpose, but to pursue a passion; a collection that is not a showcase but a game for aficionados who appreciate the unexpected. And this form of collecting is a practice that has much to teach the institutions, with its greater freedom and stonger urges.
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La collezione come forma d’arte

Elio Grazioli

pages: 128 pages

If it can be said that every era has its own approach to collecting, the contemporary period is marked by a reciprocal bond with artistic practice, to the point that the two activities often overlap or even merge. Examples abound: from Joseph Cornell, who hunted down oddities to put in his mysterious boxes, to Claes Oldenburg, who exhibited a colle
Frenologia della vanitas
Death has always been a topic of extreme fascination for man, a source of angst that has dominated artworks and the human imagination since time immemorial. Every era abounds with symbols for the transient nature of our earthly existence, but one stands out above all: the skull, that often “meditative” simulacrum that warns us of the futility of all worldly things and forces us to ponder the meaning of life. The definitive emblem of Vanitas, the skull crops up in Medieval imagery, topping off putrefying bodies that lie in wait for careless wayfarers. Stripped of its flesh, down to the bare bone, in the Renaissance the skeleton began the rise towards its seventeenth century pinnacle. Yet subsequently this image encountered varying fortunes. In the eighteenth century it lost most of its macabre connotations with the resurgence of subgenres connected to the memento mori, yet without dissipating its power. And while in the nineteenth century it made a half-hearted return, it was in the twentieth century that it regained much of its previous popularity. The turn of the millennium saw it on the crest of the wave, with skulls and skeletons once more dominating the visual arts. However this exponential increase in popularity, in quantity rather than quality, did not automatically correspond to a renewed power: art appears to be inured to the point of insensitivity to image of the skull. Inert, incapable of inspiring fear or imposing a moral agenda, the death’s head appears to have lost all its previous emphasis. This is the diagnosis reached by the author of Frenologia della vanitas after a long and complex exploration that seeks out unusual combinations and forges connections between past and present, styles and periods. The decision not to adopt a chronological structure or other forms of classification enables the arguments to develop rhizomatically, played out against the author’s underlying apprehension for the future of the skull.
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Frenologia della vanitas

Il teschio nelle arti visive

Alberto Zanchetta

pages: 416 pages

Death has always been a topic of extreme fascination for man, a source of angst that has dominated artworks and the human imagination since time immemorial. Every era abounds with symbols for the transient nature of our earthly existence, but one stands out above all: the skull, that often “meditative” simulacrum that warns us of the futility o

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