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L'affaire Capa
In 1937, Spain was in the midst of a devastating civil war. In July, a special report in Life magazine gave a tragic account of the lives cut short in one year of combat. The article was accompanied by Robert Capa’s The Falling Soldier, a photograph destined to become an icon of republican heroism known around the world. The image places viewers in the very moment of the death of a soldier struck in the face by enemy fire. But was that really what happened? As we know, at the height of a conflict so ideologically radicalized, the gaze of war correspondents is necessarily biased. Beginning in the 70s, commentators on this image began to express suspicion and increasing doubt about its veracity; some even claimed that it was deliberately staged. Does that mean that the image that gave birth to the myth of the war photojournalist diving into the fray with the Leica around his neck is false? Such questions triggered a full-blown “Capa affair”, in which photojournalism was put on trial in episodes, with accusers and defenders arguing heatedly about the place of the tragedy, the identity of the soldier and the sequence of the photographs. At the heart of the arguments advanced by both sides lies the question of authenticity, that sacred obligation of photojournalism. With all the ingenuity of a detective, Vincent Lavoie assembles a mosaic of eye-witness testimonies, relevant documents and criminal findings, along with incongruities, falsified negatives and misleading diversions. In this way, he has produced a vivid, persuasive investigation of truthfulness in photography that retraces the steps of this momentous controversy. In these times of “fake news” and endless manipulation of images, Lavoie’s book proves to be startlingly relevant
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L'affaire Capa

Processo a un'icona

Vincent Lavoie

pages: 167 pages

In 1937, Spain was in the midst of a devastating civil war. In July, a special report in Life magazine gave a tragic account of the lives cut short in one year of combat. The article was accompanied by Robert Capa’s The Falling Soldier, a photograph destined to become an icon of republican heroism known around the world. The image places viewers
Alberto Giacometti
“He smiles and all the wrinkled skin of his face smiles, too. In a strange way. It’s not only his eyes that laugh, so does his forehead.  His whole person has the grey colouring of his studio. Perhaps in sympathy he has taken on the colour of the dust.” With these words, Jean Genet – one of his favourite models – described Alberto Giacometti, the sculptor whose indomitable character was sculpted onto his face by his troubled years and obsessive work. Besides, the activity in the studio on rue Hippolyte-Maindron was intense. Those who entered witnessed Giacometti working incessantly on his figures, relentlessly destroying and reconstructing them in a grueling pursuit of perfection, a tormented oscillation between an ideal to aspire to and aborted attempts, a back and forth of doubts and second thoughts. Just seconds ago he was laughing; now he turns to the sculpture-in-progress and, intoxicated by the contact of his hands with the mass of clay, completely ignores those around him. Born in 1901 in Borgonovo, Alberto spent his childhood in the rugged regions of Switzerland. His father initiated him into art at a very young age and followed his career step by step, providing encouragement and support. In 1922, Giacometti moved to Paris, where he began under the mentorship of Antoine Bourdelle and Zadkine but soon moved on – likewise briefly – to Breton’s Surrealism and Cubism. His rebellious spirit, which underlay all his explorations and rapid passage through the avant-garde movements, fated him to a solitary path on the fringes of the art world, despite his regular encounters with the most celebrated intellectuals of the time in the cafés of Montparnasse and the Latin Quarter. Under the spell of primitive art, he moved towards a more synthetic, disorienting representation, creating a host of figures forever advancing with an unsteady step, thanks to whom he achieved fame on the international art scene. “Never let myself be influenced by anything,” he wrote in a notebook. Indeed, Giacometti belongs to a timeless time, a quality of the most authentic essence of art.
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Alberto Giacometti

Biografia

Catherine Grenier

pages: 306 pages

“He smiles and all the wrinkled skin of his face smiles, too. In a strange way. It’s not only his eyes that laugh, so does his forehead.  His whole person has the grey colouring of his studio. Perhaps in sympathy he has taken on the colour of the dust.” With these words, Jean Genet – one of his favourite models – described Alberto Giacom
Automitobiografia
Marcel and Suzanne Duchamp, Octavio Paz and Edoardo Sanguineti, Breton and Man Ray, de Chirico and the Duchess of Beaufort are just some of the names that make up the fauna of this perceptive, erudite and, at times, explosive account, far removed from any autobiographical conventions.  Working backwards from 1983, the year of publication, to 1924, the year the author was born, Automitobiografia is a kind of hyperbolic journey back along the flow of events. From the first pages it immerses us in the contemporary visual culture and seems to be a response to the trends in “high” art and citationality at that time. Baj was only too familiar with such experiences, in that, since the 1960s, he had been a skilled creator of playful versions of the works of the grand masters, as in the Chez Picasso series or compositions such as La cravatta di Jackson Pollock and the Vendetta della Gioconda. This also led him in his later work to collect – alongside a repertory of icons, themes and styles from the past – a gaudy arsenal of bric-a-brac, medals, braids and trimmings, sequins, fragments of damask, rosettes and all kinds of stuff that filled his studio. This constant reclamation and accumulation is translated at narrative level into a great assemblage of memories, reflections and citations borrowed from artists and intellectuals of every period and origin, first and foremost his brilliant mentor Alfred Jarry and pataphysics, the true “science” and mainstay of the irony that permeated Baj’s entire cultural universe. Alongside the myriad characters we also get glimpses of the everyday objects in the artist’s life such as agricultural machinery, a Kawasaki bike or a lift: splendid equipment, mechanical and erotic, that not only arouses the reader’s curiosity but also backs up the social, scientific and philosophical convictions sustained by Baj, who for years fought not only for a renewal in the art of painting but also for a prophetic return to nature against the growing threat of an all-encompassing technology.
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Automitobiografia

Enrico Baj

pages: 272 pages + 12 (inserto)

Marcel and Suzanne Duchamp, Octavio Paz and Edoardo Sanguineti, Breton and Man Ray, de Chirico and the Duchess of Beaufort are just some of the names that make up the fauna of this perceptive, erudite and, at times, explosive account, far removed from any autobiographical conventions.  Working backwards from 1983, the year of publication, to 1924,

Duty Free Art

L'arte nell'epoca della guerra civile planetaria

Hito Steyerl

pages: 212 pages

Gigantic secret museums crop up nowadays in no-man’s-lands that circumvent national sovereignties and are closed to the public. They are duty-free storage facilities where works of art – albeit sealed in their packing cases – are used as alternative currency for the circulation of assets worth billions from one end of the world to the other:
Un posto per tutti
This book is much more than just an autobiography. It is a jazz improvisation featuring a fusion of personal memoirs and ideas for a better society. It encompasses projects, drawings and photographs, partnerships and disputes. The author expresses his passion for big cities and public spaces, his love for his family and friends, his trust in education and active citizenship. However we want to read it, it makes us realize how architecture is a fundamental tool for tackling the two great challenges of our age: social inequality and climate change.Born in Florence in 1933, amidst the modernist structures designed by his cousin Ernesto Nathan Rogers and a view of Brunelleschi’s dome, Richard Rogers soon grasped that good architecture has to reflect changing technology and the spirit of the age. Consequently, having completed his studies at Yale – where he met his future partner Norman Foster – he embarked on a road trip in search of innovative ideas and design solutions: the strong colours of California and Mexico, the open structures of industrial architecture, and the lightness and transparencies of the Case Study Houses proved great sources of inspiration, becoming a constant feature in that visual vocabulary that he brought with him when he returned to London. Parkside, the Wimbledon home built for his parents between 1968 and 1969, was the first result of his American experience and encapsulates his entire architectural ethos: the daring use of colour and eco-sustainable prefabricated elements, the importance of transparency and flexibility. It was a prototype for a building that lends itself to multiple changes of use, embodying our “long-lasting, widely adaptable, low-energy” diktat. It was also his last family building project before he was swallowed up, together with Renzo Piano, in the whirlwind of the competition for a major public building in the heart of Paris.Today, more than forty years after the deluge of criticism that surrounded its construction and opening, the Pompidou Centre continues to be an undisputed icon of modernity and one of the pulsating hearts of city life, demonstrating that architecture has the power to shape our lives: good architecture brings humanity and civilization, bad architecture brutalizes.
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Un posto per tutti

Vita, architettura e società giusta

Richard Rogers

pages: 372 pages

This book is much more than just an autobiography. It is a jazz improvisation featuring a fusion of personal memoirs and ideas for a better society. It encompasses projects, drawings and photographs, partnerships and disputes. The author expresses his passion for big cities and public spaces, his love for his family and friends, his trust in educat
Le vite dei surrealisti
Surrealism developed after the First World War, initially as a lifestyle rather than an actual artistic movement. Angered by an establishment that had made that massacre possible, the Surrealists came up with an unconscious strategy able to free humanity from the ties of reason and aesthetic conventions, restoring a central role to the dimension of dreams and eroticism through psychic automatism. From 1924 onwards, André Breton, the main theorist behind this doctrine, controlled the reins of an insolent group of intellectuals for over forty years. With its break-ups, mutinies and expulsions, this was one of the most fascinating and troubled artistic experiences of the 20th century. Desmond Morris held his first Surrealist solo exhibition in 1948. While he soon went on to become one of the most famous science writers of his generation, he frequented the irresistible personalities whose adventures are described here for many years. They included Roberto Matta, who had the name of the Marquis de Sade branded on him to find favour with Breton; Giacometti who turned down Marlene Dietrich (and her forty-four suitcases) for a prostitute, Caroline Tamagno, who was well-known in the Parisian underworld; Miró and Masson, forced by Hemingway to take one another on in a disastrous boxing match; Salvador Dalí in a diving suit, billiard cue at the ready and two greyhounds on the lead, as he performs in front of hundreds of journalists at the International Surrealist Exhibition of 1936. Thirty-two eccentric stories that wind their way through the bistros of the ville lumière and the most incongruous places, such as London Zoo, before finally arriving in New York, where the first seeds of Abstract Expressionism begin to be sown. Following the kaleidoscopic proliferations of Surrealism embodied by extremely diverse artists, including Max Ernst, Picasso, Delvaux and Duchamp, Morris celebrates the intensity, delirium and mystery that, as Magritte would say, “cannot be explained, you just have to let it envelop you.”
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Le vite dei surrealisti

Desmond Morris

pages: 272 pages

Surrealism developed after the First World War, initially as a lifestyle rather than an actual artistic movement. Angered by an establishment that had made that massacre possible, the Surrealists came up with an unconscious strategy able to free humanity from the ties of reason and aesthetic conventions, restoring a central role to the dimension of
Un monumento al momento
An artist loved by other artists, starting with Boccioni who praises his subversive power, Medardo Rosso (1858‒1928) produced revolutionary work that has never ceased to influence each new generation of sculptors. A forerunner to trends that were only fully developed in the 20th century, Rosso enjoyed extraordinary success after his death, making an indelible impression upon artists such as Brancusi, Giacometti and Moore, but also on many of his contemporaries: Fabrio stated that he owed him a substantial debt, and Anselmo, when faced with his wax sculptures, recognized how the material forged by Rosso vibrated from within, almost as if it had a beating heart of its own. From the very outset, Rosso set himself an irreverent objective: to dematerialize monumental sculpture, which went from being eternal and celebratory to anti-heroic and able to capture a fleeting moment in his creations. However, he was also revolutionary in overstepping geographical barriers at a time when art was strongly defined within national borders. Having grown up after the Unification of Italy and disappointed by the empty promises of the Risorgimento, he left the country in 1889 for Paris, where he spent much of his life. An emigrant by choice and cosmopolitan by vocation, his fearless personality meant that he shunned any form of belonging, but made him receptive towards every modern stimulus, from new channels of communication to progress in photography, enabling him to draw upon a variety of visual sources and circulate his work as never before in his turn. What is more, by working on a small scale, Rosso turned the most static and heavy of the arts into an easily transportable product, in keeping with the unorthodox strategies he developed to promote his work. This essay is the first to explore Rosso’s activity from a historical and transnational perspective, offering an alternative to the officially accepted account of the birth of modern sculpture. While Rodin has always been assigned the role of isolated and heroic innovator, Sharon Hecker upholds the important part played by an artist who pioneered many practices that have become commonplace in the global artistic vocabulary today.
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Un monumento al momento

Medardo Rosso e le origini della scultura contemporanea

Sharon Hecker

pages: 320 pages

An artist loved by other artists, starting with Boccioni who praises his subversive power, Medardo Rosso (1858‒1928) produced revolutionary work that has never ceased to influence each new generation of sculptors. A forerunner to trends that were only fully developed in the 20th century, Rosso enjoyed extraordinary success after his death, making
Duchamp oltre la fotografia
From the start of his career Duchamp developed a fertile relationship with photography, which runs through his work at several levels, charging his medium with new potential. A device that sees but does not choose, that picks up fragments of reality without the direct intervention of the artist’s hand makes the camera a perfect match for Duchamp’s poetics of indifference and of non-doing. It is no accident that he abandoned more traditional drawing and painting – guilty of stopping at the retinal, that is, at sensoriality and therefore also at a choice dictated by taste – to embrace an “infrathin” attitude, a category that covers all that escapes human perception and that can only be understood by using our grey matter. The image – first and foremost photographic – is never just what it is, nor does it show only what it represents. On the contrary, it is a door to something else, a breach in the fourth dimension that Duchamp frets about ceaselessly: it demands the viewer give it more attention, a second look that does not stop at appearances, behind which, as in a game of chess, a gambit lurks. It would be misleading, for example, to consider Duchamp’s many photographic appearances – his star-shaped tonsure immortalized by Man Ray, the artist seated at a table and walking along the street in the famous images of Ugo Mula, or the marvellous Marcel Duchamp at the age of 85 – as traditional portraits or posed photographs. They are the result of the combined action of the person in front of the camera and the person behind it, a complex interplay of references where the impalpable and yet crucial allusions to Duchamp’s art leave no doubts about their intentionality as works of art.  Elio Grazioli documents the cases where photography and the artist’s reflections on it shows through in the finished work. He examines the resonances within the Duchampian system where each element comes fully into play in a complex strategy, irrespective of the diverse materials, and anticipates a way of making art that is today one of the most widespread: not to specialize in just one language but to put them all to work in the pursuance of an idea.
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Duchamp oltre la fotografia

Strategie dell'infrasottile

Elio Grazioli

pages: 88 pages

From the start of his career Duchamp developed a fertile relationship with photography, which runs through his work at several levels, charging his medium with new potential. A device that sees but does not choose, that picks up fragments of reality without the direct intervention of the artist’s hand makes the camera a perfect match for Duchamp
Arturo Martini
A prodigious sculptor skilled in creating images and narrating myths, Arturo Martini (1889-1947) gave himself over entirely to this “mysterious and egoistic” art that saps the energy of those who practise it, as the artist himself wrote.  A life without epic moments is completely given over to reinventing the iconography, to the extent that he could have said, with the poet Lucio Piccolo, “life comes to me in images”. A childhood afflicted by poverty and family arguments in a Treviso that was still mediaeval, the early talent at modelling clay, his employment while still a young boy in a goldsmith’s workshop, the unexpected bursary that allowed him to study in Venice with the sculptor Urbano Nono – these were the early milestones in the life of an individual born “in wretched circumstances” who was however destined to renew the plastic arts. The trajectory of his life then took him to Munich in 1909, a difficult time economically but with plenty of stimuli, and to Paris in 1912. At the same time, he was also one of the “rebels” of Ca’ Pesaro and was a signatory to Futurism. By the end of the war, Martini was already thirty years old and, although recognized as one of the best interpreters of the new classic ideals as represented in Novecento and Valori Plastici, he still struggled to maintain himself and his wife Brigida. Only as he approached 40 was he able to enjoy a period of happiness that coincided in 1930 with falling in love with Egle, and in 1931 with the legendary prize of 100,000 lire at the Quadriennale di Roma. In this period, he produced magnificent work in terracotta and executed new masterpieces in stone and in bronze. His period of serenity, however, came to an end with a volte-face. At the peak of his fame, and with unprecedented rage, Martini railed against sculpture and accused it of being a “dead language”. To this inexplicable rejection was added, mercilessly, illness and the humiliation of having to undergo a purge in 1945, which weakened him to the point that he died just short of 58 years old. Elena Pontiggia narrates the everyday and artistic events in Martini’s life with exemplary lucidity and clarity, embellishing the book with new information that sheds a new light on his artistic development.
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Arturo Martini

La vita in figure

Elena Pontiggia

pages: 304 pages

A prodigious sculptor skilled in creating images and narrating myths, Arturo Martini (1889-1947) gave himself over entirely to this “mysterious and egoistic” art that saps the energy of those who practise it, as the artist himself wrote.  A life without epic moments is completely given over to reinventing the iconography, to the extent that he
Night Studio
Looking round the rooms of the retrospective show put on in his honour in 1980, just three weeks before his death, Philip Guston observed that it wasn’t just a simple exhibition, it was a whole life’s experience. Night Studio, published by his daughter eight years later, is an account of a life lived: it is the bitter-sweet account of a reconciliation and an attempt to enter the world of a father for whom art was an act of intense egoism. Bringing together personal memories, but also the letters and notes of Philip Guston, as well as interviews with those who knew him, the author puts together a private history that starts in New York of the 1930s, where his parents had moved following a promising start as muralists. Thanks to the benefits of the New Deal, a lively community of artists grew up obsessed with the idea of purity in painting which hit the headlines in the fifties as the School of New York. Guston, ever in search of a language that was completely his and sceptical of the illusions of art for art’s sake, came late to non-objective painting: his lyrical vocabulary and voluptuous brush-strokes gave him a degree of fame, confirmed by a retrospective at the Guggenheim as early as 1962. But in the end, objects prevailed. In 1968, following a paralysing creative block, the forms that had accumulated and been denied for so long took shape in a cascade of images – first simple objects from everyday life, then enigmatic and cartoon-like figures – judged intolerable by the same art world that had elevated him. The world he had felt ever more impatient with now disgusted him so much that he left New York and took refuge in Woodstock where he settled permanently with his wife, Musa McKim. In this moving autobiographical fresco, accompanied by a broad selection of colour works and personal photographs, Musa Mayer takes us through her father’s artistic and life’s journey also acknowledging the role of her reserved and elusive mother, a woman who chose to take a step back in respect of her own aspirations to follow the changeable moods and need for freedom that are typical of every great artist.
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Night Studio

Un ritratto intimo di Philip Guston

Musa Mayer

pages: 292 pages

Looking round the rooms of the retrospective show put on in his honour in 1980, just three weeks before his death, Philip Guston observed that it wasn’t just a simple exhibition, it was a whole life’s experience. Night Studio, published by his daughter eight years later, is an account of a life lived: it is the bitter-sweet account of a reconci
La mia arte, la mia vita
A legendary figure of Mexican muralism, Diego Rivera was many things: a friend of Picasso, an unrepentant womanizer and insatiable lover, a fervent Communist, soon thrown out of the Party, and a self-styled revolutionary artist. In the retelling of some of the salient episodes of his life, collected and written down by the journalist Gladys March, he is also shown to be a narrator incapable of restraining his exuberant imagination. His prose, as with his painting, reveals an overwhelming passion for life and a multi-faceted humanity: he talks of prostitutes and revolutionaries, corrupt politicians and capitalist patrons of the arts, but above all the people of his own country, for whom he always felt a deep love. After his early attempts as a Cubist painter in Europe, Rivera’s return home was a revelation. Mexico with its blazing colours and intense light, joyful crowds at the market and at fiestas, appeared to him to be a source of irrepressible splendour, and one which he would tap when he portrayed on the enormous walls of Mexican public buildings the political conscience of a nation. He painted scenes of enslavement, social struggle and images of pre-Colombian culture, giving shape to the features of a muralism that would go on to become an international painting movement. The self-portrait that unfurls before our eyes gradually takes on the guise of an open-hearted confession, in which the author takes no prisoners, least of all himself. His version of events finds a countermelody in the voices of the women in his life -- Angelina Beloff, Lupe Marín, Frida Kahlo, who he married twice, and Emma Hurtado (in appendix). On reaching the last page readers can only ask themselves where the truth about this artist lies, an artist who was in the first place an extraordinary storyteller or, in the words of Élie Faure, a mythmaker, or maybe even a mythomaniac.
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La mia arte, la mia vita

Diego Rivera

pages: 204 pages

A legendary figure of Mexican muralism, Diego Rivera was many things: a friend of Picasso, an unrepentant womanizer and insatiable lover, a fervent Communist, soon thrown out of the Party, and a self-styled revolutionary artist. In the retelling of some of the salient episodes of his life, collected and written down by the journalist Gladys March,

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