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Personalities

One of the most famous American petrol industrialists and “richest man of America” from 1950 to 1970, J. Paul Getty was above everything else an insatiable art and antiques collector. Getty started collecting in the 1930s and continued compulsively throughout his entire life, despite having many times tried to stop, as he recounts in his autobiography As I See It. The Joys of Collecting by Getty is a short book in which the author recalls a number of personal anecdotes – revolving around a series of highly representative pieces of antiques, furniture and paintings –, explains his art-collecting philosophy, offers advice, and recalls his greatest successes, encouraging novice collectors to face the perils and hazards of art collecting and, regardless of budget limitations, enjoy the thrill, the drive and sense of adventure he himself enjoyed so much.  If the personal pleasure of laying hands on an artwork is a major component of Getty’s narrative, this book is also about his genuine faith in the civilising influence exerted by great artworks and the importance of sharing them with the public: “Banal as it may sound in this glib and brittle age, the beauty that one finds in fine art is one of the pitifully few real and lasting products of all human endeavour. That beauty endures even though nations and civilizations crumble; the work of art can be passed on from generation to generation and century to century, providing a historical continuity of true value.” It was his wish that his private collection would become the J. Paul Getty Museum of Malibu.   Translated by Elena Balzano.
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Le gioie di collezionare

J. Paul Getty

publisher: Johan & Levi

pages: 93 pagine

One of the most famous American petrol industrialists and “richest man of America” from 1950 to 1970, J. Paul Getty was above everything else an insatiable art and antiques collector. Getty started collecting in the 1930s and continued compulsively throughout his entire life, despite having many times tried to stop, as he recounts in his autobi

Autobiografia di un impostore

narrata da Laura Leonelli

Paolo Ventura

publisher: Johan & Levi

pages: 152 pagine

There was once an impostor. There was once Paolo Ventura, photographer, painter, and set and costume designer. There was once because this autobiography is actually a fairy tale in which every reader will find something of their own story, their childhood and their city, if they were born in Milan, and Milan equals one hundred years of Italian life
The whale is an animal that appears only to those who wait: a colossal, glistening creature that, like Moby Dick, hides from sight, “avoiding both hunters and philosophers.” Sudden, fateful encounters with the whale can occur at sea, or in craggy Apennine ravines, or in a museum, or while gazing at stars. Over the centuries, the whale has been both a mythological monster and an inspiration for tales, both a foodstuff and an object of worship. In short, an image that obsessively swallows things into its belly. Whales first fascinated artist Claudia Losi in 2004, setting in motion efforts that were focussed, through various forms and initiatives, on a life-size travelling whale made of grey wool fabric. This living event, Balena Project, toured different parts of the world, attracting stories, absorbing suggestions, constantly changing its appearance. The Whale Theory, the final leg of the journey, is its literary manifestation. An artist’s book, it contains strange and secret marvels, also serving as a compass for the lengthy poetic experience, which it retraces with illustrations, photographs and texts. Inside are various expert contributions and perspectives, plus a chorus of voices that harmoniously blend in the whale’s song. Having taken her deep dive, Claudia Losi allows herself to be gracefully swallowed up, returning with a marine geography of words and visions that have nourished the archetype of the whale, both in her private imagery and in the mind of the general public. The result is a hymn to the mystery of this massive inhabitant of the depths, and to the stories of whales that have accompanied our history as human beings.   Texts by: Christopher Collins, Matteo Meschiari, Vinicio Capossela, Jean Rezzonico, Jean D’Yvoire, Gianni Pavan, Silvia Bottani, Tore Teglbjaerg, Mauro Sargiani, Petra Aprile, Sunaura Taylor, Gioia Laura Iannilli, Jurg Slabbert, Kate Pocklington, Philip Hoare.   Translated by William Lee.
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The Whale Theory

An Animal Imagery

Claudia Losi

publisher: Johan & Levi

pages: 256

The whale is an animal that appears only to those who wait: a colossal, glistening creature that, like Moby Dick, hides from sight, “avoiding both hunters and philosophers.” Sudden, fateful encounters with the whale can occur at sea, or in craggy Apennine ravines, or in a museum, or while gazing at stars. Over the centuries, the whale has been
The heirs to a textile dynasty whose social rise is the stuff of legend, the Morozov brothers certainly did not go unnoticed. Cultured, sophisticated and unconventional at the same time, they enchanted the Muscovite intelligentsia with their eccentricities. Fashionably dressed and surrounded by femmes fatales, gambling and living in mansions whose architectural styles were eclectic to say the least, they were art lovers and above all collectors. Mikhail was the first to take an interest in the new school of French painting. After his premature death, Ivan followed in his footsteps and developed what was soon to be an overriding passion. From 1904 on, he left his factories whenever possible to visit the most fashionable Parisian art dealers but seldom allowed them to dazzle him with their offers. He had a very clear idea of the works he was wanted and of how to display them in the rooms of his stately home. He displayed matchless patience in the obsessive hunt for the finest works of his favourite masters and – according to Vollard, who called him “the Russian who doesn’t bargain” – never counted the pennies. In the space of a few years, he built up a superb collection including works by the Impressionists, Cézanne, Matisse, Picasso and the finest Russian painters of the period, every bit as good as that of his compatriot Sergei Shchukin, whose sad fate it was to share after the Russian Revolution. The masterpieces that adorned the walls of the mansion at 21 Prechistenka were confiscated by the state, divided like playing cards between Moscow and Saint Petersburg, and left to gather dust in the storerooms of museums for decades before coming to constitute the core of the modern art departments of the Hermitage and the Pushkin. The collection is now restored to its original splendour by Natalya Semyonova, who rescues the extraordinary figure of Ivan Morozov from the oblivion into which he was plunged by this twist of fate with all the verve of a novelist.
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Morozov e i suoi fratelli

Storia di una dinastia russa e di una collezione ritrovata

Natalia Semënova

publisher: Johan & Levi

pages: 240 pagine + 16 (inserto)

The heirs to a textile dynasty whose social rise is the stuff of legend, the Morozov brothers certainly did not go unnoticed. Cultured, sophisticated and unconventional at the same time, they enchanted the Muscovite intelligentsia with their eccentricities. Fashionably dressed and surrounded by femmes fatales, gambling and living in mansions whose

Come diventare un artista

Jerry Saltz

publisher: Johan & Levi

pages: 176 pagine

You’ve always dreamed of being an artist and are almost convinced that you’ve got what it takes but when it comes to the point, you are too petrified to take the plunge. A little jeering voice tells you that you’re not really all that good, your CV isn’t up to it, you’re too stupid or in any case not very original, you won’t fool anyone
An insatiable reader, Vincent van Gogh found a source of inspiration as well as a safe haven from storms in books and devoured hundreds during his short life. The authors that captivated him include Dickens, Zola, Maupassant and the Goncourt brothers, whose pages he reread with passionate intensity, meditating on every line to the point of establishing a constant mental dialogue with the writer. Part of the energy and the creative drive that animate his painting drew vital sustenance precisely from thus irresistible passion. In any case, painting with the brush or with words was the same thing for Van Gogh, who shared with the great family of his favourites the precise ideal of art as something for everyone and that everyone must be able to understand. Driven by the intuitive insight that Van Gogh’s life can be explored through the books he loved, Mariella Guzzoni displays great narrative flair in revealing previously unknown details concealed in the nooks and crannies of his art. From Still Life with a Bible to Woman Reading a Novel, the many works by the Dutch genius connected with books and reading are examined in a new light. In employing his letters, presented here in a new Italian translation, as the primary tool of investigation, the author paints a full picture of an artist fascinated not only by a number of recurrent themes but also and above all by the moral and intellectual stature of the writers he loved most. Translated into five languages and richly illustrated, the essay encompasses both the great masterpieces and the minor works of Van Gogh, showing how the man, his work and his books are interwoven in an indivisible whole. As the artist himself said, “Books, reality and art are one thing for me.”
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I libri di Vincent

Van Gogh e gli scrittori che lo hanno ispirato

Mariella Guzzoni

publisher: Johan & Levi

pages: 232 pagine

An insatiable reader, Vincent van Gogh found a source of inspiration as well as a safe haven from storms in books and devoured hundreds during his short life. The authors that captivated him include Dickens, Zola, Maupassant and the Goncourt brothers, whose pages he reread with passionate intensity, meditating on every line to the point of establis
On coming face to face with Matisse’s scandalous Le Bonheur de vivre in 1906, Sergei Shchukin found himself shivering uncontrollably. The scion of an illustrious Muscovite family, Shchukin was a consummate collector of great experience at the age of just over fifty. After reviving the fortunes of his father’s textile business, he had spent a decade visiting Paris to gaze upon the avant-garde paintings exhibited there, the works by Monet, Degas, Cézanne, Gauguin and Van Gogh whose glowing colours were to adorn the walls of the Trubetskoy Palace. In 1906, Shchukin recognized the wave of emotion that overwhelmed him whenever he felt that a work had to be his from the very first moment. This was the start of a close and fruitful relationship with Matisse that led to the creation of masterpieces like La Danse and La Musique, and marked the peak of Shchukin’s farsighted vision, as epitomized by his remark to the artist: “The public may be against you but the future is on your side.” A few years later, his new guest was none other than Picasso, initially greeted with all due circumspection but ultimately coming to dominate Shchukin’s already splendid body of works. The peerless collection thus built up was opened to the public on a regular basis before its confiscation by the state after the Revolution of 1917. On beholding that explosion of colours, the young Russian artists underwent a cultural shock equalled only by the passion to emulate those glowing canvases that that was to inspire the works of future generations. In relating the life of the man and the patron of the arts, the authors necessarily also retrace the destinies of his four brothers, Nikolai, Piotr, Dmitri and Ivan, and the crucial part they played. Epitomizing the different aspect of patronage, they all helped with their collections to enrich the holdings of Russia’s museums. Together with them, Sergei Shchukin was the leading figure in a family saga interwoven with the stormy history of Russia in the late 19th and early 20th century and with the artistic revolution that turned Europe upside-down in the same period.
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Sergej Ščukin

Un collezionista visionario nella Russia degli zar

André Delocque, Natalia Semënova

publisher: Johan & Levi

pages: 335 pagine + 8 (inserto)

On coming face to face with Matisse’s scandalous Le Bonheur de vivre in 1906, Sergei Shchukin found himself shivering uncontrollably. The scion of an illustrious Muscovite family, Shchukin was a consummate collector of great experience at the age of just over fifty. After reviving the fortunes of his father’s textile business, he had spent a de
While a great deal has already been said about Giorgio Morandi the artist, it is still possible to address Morandi the man from another angle without necessarily avoiding the stages in his critical fortunes. This is precisely the approach taken by the collector Luigi Magnani, creator of the foundation that bears his name. Drawing on his long and close friendship with the Bolognese artist, Magnani places his erudition and sensitivity at the service of an elective affinity to paint an affectionate portrait. Without ever lapsing into facile hagiography or stroke-by-stroke description of the works, these memories flesh out the figure of Morandi and allow revelation to come through his own  words, the very essence of the creative frenzy that manifests itself in everyday actions such as the extraordinary use of a telescope to establish the exact viewpoint of the landscape (“See the picture up there? I painted it in this room.”). The artist thus emerges “in his tastes, his moods and, no less, in his qualities”, one of which – as Stefano Roffi writes in the new foreword – is that of having always remained outside any artistic group and painted solely “for the few he felt capable of sharing in his world”. First published in 1982, Il mio Morandi bears witness to a sophisticated and self-effacing personality. It includes a series of letters by the artist that almost duplicate the narrative and make it more tangible. Rereading it today means not only retracing the course of a twenty-year relationship of mutual respect but also and above all rediscovering the most private and personal side of Morandi, the vision of an enigmatic, wizard-like and rigorous interpreter of nature, and recognizing “how much that is human found expression, through form, in his painting”.
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Il mio Morandi

Luigi Magnani

publisher: Johan & Levi

pages: 148 pagine + 16 (inserto)

While a great deal has already been said about Giorgio Morandi the artist, it is still possible to address Morandi the man from another angle without necessarily avoiding the stages in his critical fortunes. This is precisely the approach taken by the collector Luigi Magnani, creator of the foundation that bears his name. Drawing on his long and cl
After taking “all the trains and all the ships”, Fabian Avenarius Lloyd settled in Paris, eager to make his fortune through poetry. At the age of twenty-two, with a talent less-than-proportional to his titanic build, he was ready to do whatever it took to make a name for himself. Not his name though: the name Arthur Cravan, a pseudonym he took on in 1910, together with the questionable epithet of “Oscar Wilde’s nephew”. He caused quite a stir at effulgent avant-garde soirées with his rough, eccentric party pieces. By day, he did boxing training in the studio of painter Kees van Dongen, getting ready to introduce the fist into the artistic struggle. Duchamp and Picabia were enraptured by his irreverence: from the pages of Maintenant, Cravan inveighed against the salons, firing poisonous arrows that would cost him eight days in the cooler and the esteem of the most respected critic of all, Félix Fénéon. When war broke out Cravan, a Swiss national, did a disappearing act. He turned up in Barcelona, disguised as a professional boxer, where he challenged black champion Jack Johnson. Posters proclaimed him the European champion, a title he gave himself without a single fight. The bout – which when it came was so brief it was in practice a static exhibition by his mammoth rival – earned him enough money to board a transatlantic liner bound for New York, putting an ocean between him and war-torn Europe. After wandering the United States and Canada “disguised as a soldier so as not to be a soldier”, he wound up in New York, where the Arensberg salon became the golden ring where he hatched new scandals and fuelled his “deadly plurality”, before his encounter with unscrupulous poetess Mina Loy turned out to be fatal. His exhortations to revolt, dazzling poetic insights, the strategy of art in the service of life and his anti-militarism all put Cravan among the pioneers of Dadaist adventure. So crazy as to seem made-up, his life is reconstructed here in detail, from his birth in Lausanne in 1887 to his mysterious disappearance in the Pacific in 1918, all through his mother’s exuberant correspondence. The man who emerges is a split personality, unusual, disruptive and extremely contradictory, more or less summing up the vices and virtues of an entire era.
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Arthur Cravan

Una strategia dello scandalo

Maria Lluïsa Borràs

publisher: Johan & Levi

pages: 222 pagine

After taking “all the trains and all the ships”, Fabian Avenarius Lloyd settled in Paris, eager to make his fortune through poetry. At the age of twenty-two, with a talent less-than-proportional to his titanic build, he was ready to do whatever it took to make a name for himself. Not his name though: the name Arthur Cravan, a pseudonym he took
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

publisher: Johan & Levi

pages: 167 pagine

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
“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

publisher: Johan & Levi

pages: 306 pagine

“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

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