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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
Vedere l'invisibile
Every phenomenon is the material trace of the invisible forces that generated it, the inseparable fusion of content and form, of internal and external elements. This is how such painting should be understood, a form of painting freed from figurative intentions, which aspires to embody sensations, emotions and passions: in a word, the intimate essence of life. This was the sense of the revolution brought about at the dawn of the last century by Kandinsky, the founder of abstract painting. It is the subject examined in this essay by Michel Henry, whose ideas on phenomenology all hinge on the theme of life, the life that the “pioneer of pioneers” aimed to represent pictorially in his pulsating invisibility. It was no longer a question of “abstracting from” some element of the visible world, nor of grasping an external appearance already constituted to give it back in the form of a more or less mimetic image. The challenge was to bring to light something that did not previously exist except in a secret dimension. But if the art of painting, by his own definition, is display of the visible that is shown in shapes and colours, how can it give shape to a reality hidden from view? Based on an analysis of the theoretical literature that has accompanied the development of Kandinsky’s abstract art and which provides an excellent route to understanding his work, Henry shows how the artist separates colour and line from the constraints of the visible form: every line is the product of a force, every colour is linked to an affective tone, an inner sonority. If we are essentially force and affect, then lines and colours allow our deepest inner self to emerge.   Rather than underpinning a simple art movement, Kandinsky’s abstraction therefore reveals to us the profound truth of art, which to a certain extent is all abstract, freed from having to stick to the external world. Grasping the principles of this revolution is equivalent to understanding that art is the highest expression of the potency of life and, ultimately, its most exemplary objectivization.
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Vedere l'invisibile

Saggio su Kandinsky

Michel Henry

pages: 176 pages

Every phenomenon is the material trace of the invisible forces that generated it, the inseparable fusion of content and form, of internal and external elements. This is how such painting should be understood, a form of painting freed from figurative intentions, which aspires to embody sensations, emotions and passions: in a word, the intimate essen
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
Museologia radicale
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

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
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,
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
Basquiat
10 February 1985: Jean-Michel Basquiat appears on the cover of the New York Times magazine, sitting in his studio in Great Jones Street. His stares idly into the lens while his hand grasps his brush like a weapon. His bare feet, resting on an overturned chair that looks like an animal carcass, are in sharp contrast to the formality of the Armani suit where you can just see the hem of his trousers streaked with paint. He is light years away from his early days when, having removed himself from the bourgeois indifference of his father and his mother’s psychic instability, he chose his path, the underground world of graffiti and new wave music, of clubs, but above all the walls of New York where he gave vent to the “80 per cent of anger” that fed his hunger for success. From the anonymity of SAMO – the label he adopted to brand the skin of a city still hostage to racism and urban decay – Jean-Michel went on, in just a few years, to co-sign paintings with Andy Warhol. Today he is the most famous black artist, the first to become internationally famous, a goal he really wanted to achieve and single-mindedly worked towards. But it quickly became a label he couldn’t shake off, in the gilded cage that the art establishment seemed to have put him in, from which not even his excesses and perhaps his last desperate attempt to escape – a return to his origins, to the African destination on the air ticket found in his pocket at the time of his premature death at 27 – would manage to save him. A contradictory temperament in a time of contradictions, Basquiat personally experienced a whirlwind of stimuli, a maelstrom of emotions that he then poured out onto his canvas and any other support to hand: words, images and sounds were magically recomposed into a new form that makes him one of the greatest visual poets of the 20th century.  
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Basquiat

La regalità, l'eroismo e la strada

Michel Nuridsany

pages: 384 pages

10 February 1985: Jean-Michel Basquiat appears on the cover of the New York Times magazine, sitting in his studio in Great Jones Street. His stares idly into the lens while his hand grasps his brush like a weapon. His bare feet, resting on an overturned chair that looks like an animal carcass, are in sharp contrast to the formality of the Armani su
Una squisita indifferenza
One day in 1823, on a football pitch in the north of England, a player picked up the ball and, with exquisite indifference to the rules of the game, he started to run with it: he had invented rugby. It is commonly held that around 1860 some artists invented modern art, rejecting all the rules and breaking the chains of tradition, such as perspective, which made up the commonly accepted and understood artistic language. But that is not how it went: Degas, Van Gogh, Rodin, Gauguin and Picasso did not restrict themselves to dodging the rules of the game, but, just like the inventor of rugby, they decided to seize the possibilities that lay hidden in traditional art to create a new game with a new system of rules. In this essay, brilliantly written and with a richness and depth of analysis second to none, Kirk Varnedoe offers us an overview of the birth and development of modern art, from what is an original and, in many respects, revolutionary perspective.   According to the American scholar it is simplistic to attribute the new pictorial dimension adopted by Degas and Van Gogh to the influence of photography and the flat perspective of Japanese prints. And it is equally reductive to interpret the primitivism of Gauguin and Picasso as romantic yearning for exotic representations of distant lands. On the contrary, its innovative force comes from the free exchange of forms in juxtaposition which, removed from their original contexts, give rise to new ensembles of meanings. The analysis of fragmentation and serialization in Rodin’s sculptures is a key stage in shedding light on how the development of abstract art is not concerned purely with form. The sudden spread of the aerial point of view in the painting of the belle époque period and in the Russian avant-garde of the 1920s is one of the instruments Varnedoe gives us to understand not only how dialectical the relationship between art history and the history of ideas is, but even what it is that links Degas’ ballerinas to Pollock’s Abstract Expressionism and the minimalist trends that followed. 
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Una squisita indifferenza

Perché l'arte moderna è moderna

Kirk Varnedoe

pages: 220 pages

One day in 1823, on a football pitch in the north of England, a player picked up the ball and, with exquisite indifference to the rules of the game, he started to run with it: he had invented rugby. It is commonly held that around 1860 some artists invented modern art, rejecting all the rules and breaking the chains of tradition, such as perspectiv

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