Jeff Koons in Florence, cheek to cheek with the David. Jeff Koons a Firenze, a tu per tu con il David

 

 

 

 

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Alle 3.56 di questa mattina, la scultura Pluto and Proserpina di Jeff Koons è diventata la degna compagna del David, a Firenze, in Piazza della Signoria. Un evento che segna l’inaugurazione della Biennale di Antiquariato, a Palazzo Corsini fino al 4 ottobre. Su invito di Fabrizio Moretti, l’artista è arrivato ieri pomeriggio  nel capoluogo toscano ed ha assistito per una ventina di minuti oltre la mezzanotte all’arrivo del camion. Poi gli uomini di Arteria hanno lavorato fino a mattina per installare l’opera che è arrivata ingabbiata in una cassa appositamente progettata da un ingegnere tedesco. Come reagiranno cittadini e visitatori alla vista di quest’opera luccicante, in acciaio inox smaltato di giallo, ispirata al gruppo di Bernini?

 

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At 3:56 this morning, the sculpture Pluto and Proserpina by Jeff Koons has become a worthy companion of the David, in Florence’s Piazza della Signoria. This event marks the opening of the Biennale of Antiques,  at Palazzo Corsini until 4 October. By invitation of Fabrizio Moretti, the artist arrived yesterday afternoon in the Tuscan capital city and attended by twenty minutes past midnight  the arrival of the truck which transported the sculpture. Then specialists of Arteria’s Company worked until morning to install the statue that came encased in a box especially designed by a German engineer. How will citizens and visitors react today looking at this shining, yellow stainless steel sculpture inspired by Bernini’s marble group?

Jeff Koons e Fabrizio Moretti a Firenze
Jeff Koons e Fabrizio Moretti a Firenze

 

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Francesca von Habsburg restores a church in Venice.

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The private Foundation Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, founded by Francesca von Habsburg, has been elected as the most suitable applicant for their offering of a combination of restoration and activation of the church of San Lorenzo. The city of Venice and TBA21 are now entering negotiations detailing the circumstances of usage, which should lead to a final contract.

Located in the center of Venice, between the Piazza San Marco and the Arsenale, the former church of San Lorenzo – with an archeological subterranean find dating back to the 800s – will go through a long-term process of renovation. The TBA21 proposal, presented by the Venetian Heritage Foundation, was selected because of their allowing of the coexistence of the slow and meticulous process of renovating such a valuable historical building with a dynamic, interdisciplinary contemporary public program of international outreach. A first phase of this restoration is being elaborated that will enable the space to reopen to the public after decades of closure, with the exception of a few rare cultural projects.

Vienna based TBA21 was founded in 2002 by Francesca von Habsburg, one of the most innovative philanthropists of today. Daughter of the Baron Heini Thyssen-Bornemisza – who established one of the greatest art collections ever in the Villa Favorita in Lugano, Switzerland – Francesca von Habsburg studied art at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design and history of modern and contemporary art at the ICA in the early 80s. In 1989, she became chief curator of special exhibitions of the Thyssen-Bornemisza collection at the Villa Favorita and in 1991 she founded the ARCH Foundation dedicated to the preservation and restoration of cultural heritage.

“We are very grateful to the city of Venice with its Mayor Dr. Luigi Brugnaro to have positively considered our application for the simultaneous restoration of the Church of San Lorenzo and the creation of a new contemporary art program. We are looking into the possibility to restore and work in the church, though prior to undertaking this challenge we have to go through historical, seismic and structural surveys in order to consolidate the structure of the building and before any conservation or programming can take place. Based on the results, our proposal to create a ‘space within a space’ will act as a conservation platform, allowing restoration to take place alongside the building’s function as a contemporary exhibition venue, allowing the worlds of past, present and future to collide. This proposal will activate one of the most fascinating places remaining in Venice during its painstaking restoration, and make it accessible to the public after decades of closure.”

 

Over the last ten years Venetian Heritage and Francesca von Habsburg have previously collaborated on a number of successful restoration projects in lands that were once part of the Venetian domain, notably Trogir, Dubrovnik and Lopud in Croatia. Her sensitivity to both the historical importance of cultural heritage and her visionary outlook towards cutting edge contemporary art and its importance in the field of transfering knowledge won her the favour of Dr. Luigi Brugnaro the mayor of Venice during his evaluation of the proposal.

Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary (TBA21) is dedicated primarily to the commissioning and dissemination of ambitious, experimental and unconventional projects that defy traditional categorizations, giving the foundation a pioneering reputation throughout the world. TBA21 is known for its focus on the urgent need to protect our natural resources and environment, particularly the oceans. Through a new exploratory fellowship program in the Pacific called Triennium, TBA21 takes artistic practice out of the studio and science out of the lab to invent new forms of knowledge production on both land and sea.

Venetian Heritage is an international non-profit organization with offices in Venice and New York and operates under the joint UNESCO – International Private Committees for the Safeguarding of Venice.

Venetian Heritage support cultural initiatives through restoration, exhibitions, publications, conferences, studies and research, with the aim to highlight the immense cultural wealth of Venetian art in Italy and in the territories formerly part of the Republic of Venice.

 

Giotto. Riappare un affresco. Giotto, a fresco reappears

Due teste di Apostoli (Pietro e Paolo), collezione privata
Due teste di Apostoli (Pietro e Paolo), collezione privata

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Mancava solo questa “gemma” mai vista dal vero ad impreziosire la mostra Giotto, l’Italia (14 capolavori  riuniti a Palazzo Reale di Milano, dal 2/09 al 10/01/2016). L’aver ottenuto questo difficile prestito (in mani private) riempie d’orgoglio la curatrice Serena Romano (che con Pietro Petraroia ha ideato quest’esposizione,  prodotta da Palazzo Reale e da Electa). L’opera non era ignota agli studiosi. Nel 1971 il professor Valentino Martinelli pubblicò per primo un testo e una foto in bianco e nero in un libro di studi.

Questo frammento d’affresco in cui sono raffigurati due Santi (Pietro e Paolo, per convenzione) è stato conservato nei secoli quasi come una reliquia. Quando la prima basilica di San Pietro fu rasa al suolo nel 1610, qualcuno provvidenzialmente salvò alcuni pezzi del ciclo giottesco. Taluni finirono nelle Grotte Vaticane, sotto la chiesa, mentre altri diventarono di proprietà privata, proprio come in questo caso. Serena Romano è riuscita nell’ardua impresa di convincere i proprietari a concedere il frammento per questi pochi mesi, mostrandolo per la prima volta al pubblico.

L’opera è un rettangolo di 40 centimetri, e la sua attribuzione a Giotto è molto chiara. Dietro a questo frammento c’è una scritta che racconta come avvenne questo salvataggio: il segretario di papa Paolo V lo ha donato a un signore fiorentino di nome Matteo Caccini, e il cui stemma è apposto sul retro del frammento, proprio accanto a questa descrizione. Accertandone così la provenienza storica. Il Caccini lo espose alla devozione pubblica nel 1625. Sempre dalla scritta sappiamo che questo frammento proviene dalle pareti interne della prima Basilica di San Pietro. «Il mio ragionamento nello stilare (insieme ad Andrea De Marchi) la scheda del catalogo, ipotizza che questo frammento provenga dall’abside», dice la Romano. «L’interesse storico è altissimo, tanto più che in questa mostra l’opera è messa in relazione anche con il Polittico Stefaneschi (eccezionale prestito dei Musei Vaticani che lo hanno spostato per la prima volta) anch’esso proveniente dalla basilica vaticana antica. Purtroppo le lunghe trattative per ottenere questo prestito non hanno consentito il restauro dell’opera, che si farà però in seguito all’Opificio delle Pietre Dure di Firenze».

Ma c’è un altro “frammento” che la curatrice Serena Romano sta cercando “disperatamente” ed è la cimasa (raffigurante il Redentore) della Croce lignea di Rimini. La foto fu pubblicata all’ inizio del XX secolo e poi una seconda volta nel 1957, da Federico Zeri, il quale indicava come l’ opera fosse custodita in una collezione privata inglese. Purtroppo se ne sono perse le tracce. Riaffiorerà mai?

(per maggiori informazioni vai al sito  www.mostragiottoitalia.it)

 

A  “gem”, never seen before in flesh and blood, will enrich the exhibition Giotto, l’Italia (14 masterpieces at Palazzo Reale, Milan, from 2/09 to 10/01/2016) . Getting this unseen artwork was very very difficult.  Curator Serena Romano (who designed this Giotto exhibition together with Pietro Petraroia, produced by Palazzo Reale and Electa) is very proud having obtained this loan for the milanese show. The work was known in a very small scholars’s circle. The first one was Professor Valentino Martinelli who, in 1971, published a photo in black and white in a book of studies. This fragment of a fresco which depicts the two saints (Peter and Paul, by convention) has been preserved over the centuries almost like a relic. When the first  St Peter’s church was flattened in 1610, someone providentially saved few pieces of Giotto’s cycle. Some ended up in the Vatican Grottoes , while others became private property, just as in this case. Serena Romano succeeded in the arduous task of convincing the owners to grant it for these few months, showing it for the first time to the public.

The work is a rectangle of 40 cm, and its attribution to Giotto is very precise. On this fragment’s verso there is an inscription that tells how this piece was saved: the secretary to Pope Paul V gave it to a Florentine gentleman named Matteo Caccini, whose coat of arms is on the reverse of the fragment, right next to this description. Thus proving the historical provenance. Caccini exposed him to public devotion in 1625. This description tell us that this fragment comes from the inner walls of the first St. Peter’s Basilica. «In my catalogue’s essay, written together with Andrea De Marchi, I do suggests that this fragment probably comes from the apse», says Romano. «The historical interest is very high, especially since in this exhibition the work is related with the Polittico Stefaneschi (an outstanding loan of the Vatican Museums that have moved it for the first time) which also originated from the same ancient Vatican Basilica. Unfortunately, long negotiations for getting this loan did not allow the restoration of the work, however planned after this show at the Opificio delle Pietre Dure in Florence».

But there is another lost “fragment” curator Serena Romano seeks “desperately” to find, this is the cyma (portraying the Redeemer) of the wooden cross of Rimini. The photo was published a first time at the beginning of the twentieth century and then a second time in 1957 by Federico Zeri, who asserted that the work was kept in a private English collection. Unfortunately no traces of the cyma until now. Will it ever resurface?

(For more detailed information please visit www.mostragiottoitalia.it)

 

Gli Uffizi e quell’identità dismessa. The Uffizi, a dismantled identity

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La grande novità della politica culturale (gestita dal ministro Dario Franceschini) sarebbe quella di aver designato sette direttori stranieri alla testa di alcuni dei principali musei italiani. La nostra arte è da secoli patrimonio del mondo, quindi si può ben dire che questa globalizzazione è un frutto made in Italy . Ad imparare il concetto di arte nel suo più ampio e alto termine sono venuti in Italia, nei nostri musei e nelle nostre principali istituzioni, studenti stranieri che sarebbero diventati poi i maggiori studiosi del mondo servendo con deferenza e abnegazione il verbo seminato dalla nostra cultura nel tempo . Abbiamo fatto scuola e ancora la facciamo, con la storia dell’arte e la pratica del restauro con specializzazione massima. Dunque tutto a posto con queste nomine di direttori tedeschi, francesi, austriaci? In buona sostanza tutte europee, quindi in linea con quella “comunità” che non vogliamo sia solo di stampo mercantile, ma anche culturale. Dunque tutto a posto? No, per nulla. Ci sono musei che incarnano la cosiddetta identità culturale propria di un Paese. E questo dovrebbero essere gli Uffizi. Il Louvre avrebbe mai potuto scegliere come direttore un italiano, un inglese, un tedesco? No, perché il Louvre “è” la Francia e viceversa, espressione di quel sano orgoglio issato a bandiera per aver creato un museo unico (realizzato anche con migliaia di opere italiane fatte confiscare da Napoleone e alcune riportate poi in Italia dallo scultore Canova, che aveva amore patrio). Le scelte del Ministro rispecchiano esattamente il contrario: l’Italia e gli italiani non s’identificano con gli Uffizi. Stesso discorso vale poi per la Galleria dell’ Accademia a Firenze, alla cui testa siede ora una direttrice tedesca, Cecilie Hollberg. Ma la tempra dei fiorentini sicuramente rimetterà le cose a posto. Non dicano poi che Gabriele Finaldi, direttore della National Gallery di Londra, è un italiano: costui è nato a Londra ma ha una formazione prettamente anglosassone (oltre che internazionale) e in base a questa è stato designato. Antonio Natali, direttore degli Uffizi (al quale subentrerà poi il nuovo,  Eike Schmidt), ha fatto molto per il museo, sia come studioso con mostre di grandissimo livello scientifico e artistico premiate anche all’estero (con l’Apollo award), che come manager, dote richiesta oggi per la gestione di un museo. Ma ha detto troppi no alla politica (anche a quella dei prestiti). E questo, in Italia, si paga caro. Forse il vero obiettivo di tutta questa sarabanda di nomi era solo quello di scalzare lui? Non gli è stato consentito di portare a termine progetti già iniziati, di firmare fino in fondo l’evoluzione del museo, che è proprio un “piccolo” edificio, se confrontato con la capienza del Louvre e del Metropolitan di New York, che possono quindi vantare milioni di visitatori e di introiti da biglietti. E poi sorge un ulteriore dubbio: la visita a Firenze della Merkel, e poi quella all’Expo di Milano, sempre accolta da Renzi,  non ha alcun legame con questa svolta a Firenze?

Ci sarebbe poi ancora un’altra incisiva novità annunciata dal ministro Franceschini in fatto di politica culturale. In futuro, i musei dovranno tornare a progettare e a produrre le mostre, non più le società private che ora lo fanno (investendo molto e spesso guadagnando anche molto). Quest’inversione di rotta è da sempre una mia perorazione. Cosa mi preoccupa? Che quest’annuncio sia solo un proclama, a meno che il Ministero non decida di concorrere a finanziare VERAMENTE  questo nuovo corso, con centinaia di milioni di euro. Equivarrebbe a credere che la cultura è innovazione. Fatti i direttori dei musei (con quali pieni poteri?) si “rifacciano” i musei, in primo luogo non tagliando loro i fondi. Ma siamo alla fantapolitica. Anzi alla fanta-arte. Un binomio perdente.

The big news of the cultural policy (managed by the Minister Dario Franceschini) would be to have designated seven foreign directors at the head of some of the major Italian museums. Since centuries our art is world’s heritage, and this kind of globalization is a result of an action “made in Italy”. To learn the art concept in its broadest and highest term, many students came to Italy, in our museums and major institutions, later becoming the foremost experts in the world serving with deference and devotion our culture’s verb. We have made school and still do,  teaching art history and practicing the restoration at the highest quality level. So everything ok with these appointments of German, French, Austrian directors at the head of the major Italian museums? Basically all European people, so in line with these ” community” that we do not want just to be mercantile, but also cultural. So all right? No, not at all. There are museums that embody the so-called cultural identity of the own country. And this should be the Uffizi. In a similar case, would have the Louvre appointed an Italian, an English or a German as director? No, because the Louvre “is” France and France is the Louvre, expression of a healthy pride hoisted up as a flag, for having designed a unique museum (made with thousands of italian artworks confiscated by Napoleon and some brought back to Italy by Canova, as  a sign for patriotic love). The choices of the Minister reflect exactly the opposite: Italy and Italians do not identify with the Uffizi. Same goes then for the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence, at whose head sits now another German director, Cecile Hollberg. But the temper of the Florentines definitely  will set  things right. Do not say then that Gabriele Finaldi, director of the National Gallery in London, is an Italian: he was born in London but has a purely Anglo-Saxon education (and obviously an international as well) and his designation is based precisely on that fact. Antonio Natali, former director of the Uffizi (the new one is the German Eike Schmidt), worked very hard for the museum, either as a scholar organizing very special exhibitions of great scientific and artistic importance, even awarded abroad (with the Apollo Award e.g), and as a manager as well, what is today required for the museum’s benefit. But he did not do favors to politicians (denying many loans as well). Therefore, in Italy, you pay dearly. Perhaps the real goal of all this uproar of names was only to oust him? He was not allowed to complete projects already started, to sign up in detail the development of the museum, which is just a “small” building, when compared to the size and capacity of the Louvre and the Metropolitan in New York, which can then boast millions of visitors gaining a hugh  amount of money from the ticketing revenue. And then another query arises: Merkel’s visit to Florence, and then to the Expo in Milan, always welcomed by Matteo Renzi, has no direct connection with this cultural turn in Florence?

There would be another incisive novelty in terms of cultural policy announced by the Minister Franceschini. In the future, Italian museums must return to design and produce shows, excluding private companies which are now monopolizing this business (investing and gaining from that). This shift has always be my “personal” fight. But, I’m worrying that this announcement sounds only as a proclamation, unless the Ministry decides to really finance this new course, with hundreds of millions of euros. This would mean that finally culture is considered as innovation. Once appointed these museum’s directors (with full powers?) then the Minister should press the restart button for all museums, primarily not by cutting their funds. But this is political science-fiction. Indeed art-fiction. A losing binomial.

 

 

Chu Enoki the art of not making war. Chu Enoki, l’arte di non fare la guerra

 Chu Enoki versione oggi e ieri, all'inizio del suo percorso artistico
Chu Enoki versione oggi e ieri, all’inizio del suo percorso artistico

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After his first  solo show anywhere outside Japan at the White Rainbow Gallery in London, Chu Enoki want to have a rest. «I visited so many galleries during my stay in London as well as Stonehenge, which I had always wanted to see. Now I am reflecting on what I saw, experienced, imagined and felt while I was there and preparing myself for the next step. Until I start working towards the next exhibition at Kongobuji temple on Koyasan mountain from April, I would like to allow my mind to be free spirited and at rest», says the artist who is presenting here a series of his best known works as  an installation of his metal sculptures, Kalashnikov and Colt guns, as well as a cannon, which is based on his particular ethos, Life Self Defence Force (LSDF), and Hangari, or “half-shaved head” which are his self-portraits from a performance piece from the 70’s, on show at the exhibition (until 11/04/2015). «A series of documentary photographs of my travel to Europe with Hangari is also exhibited . It has not yet been shown widely in public even in Japan. My ethos, Life Self Defence Force, suggests that we should be responsible for our own lives, without reliance to the state».

 

Chu Enoki con una sua scultura mitragliatrice
Chu Enoki con una sua scultura mitragliatrice

You stopped making your weapon-shaped work with the outbreak of the Iraq war in 2003. Your art seems to be a prophetic one, as now, even in Europe, there are battles between Russia and Ukraine. Today, which topics are you interested in? «Yes, it has been said that my work seems prophetic. My work tends to be ahead of time as I capture the feel of an age and develop a vision of the future with deep imagination. The times, which are constantly changing, eventually catch up with my imagination (which is reflected in my work), and it becomes a reality. I do think it is scary. It has been over 40 years since I started making cannons, but I have always questioned the Japanese government’s attitude to controlling information. In our country, information on some particular subjects that the general public has access to, for example in newspapers and other media, can be so limited. Politicians and relevant officials as well as civil servants have been given the rights to keep the full information to themselves, and if secrecy is broken, they may be punished. We should maintain the freedom of speech and expression. Japan, which is not supposed to have armed forces by constitution, has the Self Defence Force, and each time there was a war, Japan has debated how and how much to cooperate with our most important ally, the United States. It was forbidden to produce, keep or sell weapons in Japan before but the current government has gone for a change to allow weapons to be produced in Japan and sold overseas as a business. Most of the Japanese people who have lived in peace since the end of the war do not know that the weapons that were produced in our country are about to take part in international wars and conflicts. I feel the fear of being uninformed. I could say the same thing about the control of information by the government regarding the nuclear accident in Fukushima, even now. It was not caused by the natural disaster but a consequence of human negligence, and must be considered seriously».

 

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I think it is important to pursue the truth even at an individual level and to show critical attitude with imagination. Imagination is important not only for artists but also for the whole public. It is my job to express ideas and raise questions through my works and to show them in gallery and museum spaces, and it is important that people come and see them. In 2003, when the Iraq War broke out, I stopped producing my sculptures of weapons when I felt my imagination from the past had turned into reality and it was no longer just artwork. In the present day when there is so much awful news of war, conflict and terrorism. The opportunity to show my work in London gave me a chance to reflect on my thoughts from when I made them in 2000 in a current context» .

 

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Is your studio looking more like a technical laboratory?

At my studio I think, experiment, polish metals, and do small works. In order to keep my mind unconfined and open I try not to limit my work place solely to the studio. Good relationships with others maximize the possibility of producing my artwork and also feed back into it. It is important for me to find the material that I want to work with, but to meet people at the same time. When I meet people who are relevant, projects that I cannot realize on my own start moving forward. That’s how my large-scale sculptures have come to life. I sometimes produce work with people who have a more professional studio. In a way it is my style to involve others and listen to their opinion and thoughts. Through that process I gain more, and I can grasp art as something even bigger. When I was a full time technical worker at a factory, I had to produce my work in the evenings and on weekends, but since retiring, I do all the deskwork in the morning and work on my art in the afternoon. My studio is on a hill surrounded by clusters of bamboo, a roughly 20 minute drive away from my house in Kobe. There is a dairy farm nearby and you hear birds singing. It is a quiet place. When I work I often leave the radio on just as background music but sometimes I enjoy listening to live baseball commentary».

How is your typical day, if you have one?

«I used to work full time at a factory until I retired 7 years ago, but now I spend my mornings contacting people regarding my work and also reading and filing. When I am producing work, I go to my studio in the afternoon, but otherwise I go for a walk in the mountains or by the sea. When I go to town I visit local galleries and talk to artists and gallerists. It is important for me to keep on seeing people. When I am outside, I try to make my mind relaxed and free, to absorb what I have seen, heard and felt, and also to let my imagination run free. I also frequent a scrap metal warehouse. In fact I was there yesterday. Through looking at what comes in to the warehouse, I see the transition of time and age, and I get inspiration for my work. The encounter with those objects makes me think about what is coming in the future of our society».

Your next projects for 2015/2016?

«From September to November this year, I will be exhibiting RPM-1200 at Kongobuji temple on Koyasan mountain. RPM-1200 is a work of a futuristic town made by building up used industrial metal parts that were given a second life by remodeling and polishing. The head of Kongobuji temple asked me for the work through which he saw the image of Mandala and the world of Tantric Buddhism. In October 2016, there will be my second solo show at White Rainbow in London. I would like to exhibit an installation of gun cartridges to compliment the first exhibition»

By Francesca Pini

Sleepless, Vienna non dorme. Sleepless, Vienna doesn’t sleep.

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Scrivo questo articolo a notte fonda. Per me questo è un momento di silenzio, di pensiero, sono ore sublimi, insonni, di  veglia.  Sleepless, esattamente come il titolo di questa mostra che si è inaugurata a Vienna allo 21er Haus. Tutto ruota attorno all’idea del letto, come metafora della vita, della morte, della malattia, del sesso, del riposo, del sogno, del sonno che spesso diventa insonnia. Letto anche emblema di pace quando andiamo a cercare nella nostra memoria quella celebre foto di John Lennon e Yoko Ono, che si lasciano fotografare in un momento di intimità per perorare la causa pacifista: “fate l’amore e non fate la guerra ” (era l’epoca del Vietnam). Le scelte del curatore Mario Codognato hanno davvero toccato tutte le corde,  partendo proprio dall’oggetto di arredo, celebrato con una bellissima culla Thonet affiancata ai letti a castello di Anselm Kiefer, accatastati uno sull’altro in equilibrio precario a significare che questi è il risultato di tanti piccoli squilibri, e ancora per parlare di culle ecco quella di Sherry Levine, vuota e fredda (realizzata in acciaio), che sembra attendere proprio la bambina del quadro sontuoso, cinquecentesco di Lavinia Fontana, dipinto accostato a questa scultura.  Il duo cubano Los Carpinteros ripensano il letto come uno scivolo dotato di materassi, gioioso anche quello di Yayoi Kusama, cosparso di punti rossi, come avesse il morbillo. Di certo non rassicurante il letto dell’artista indiano Sundarshan Shetty che vi piazza sopra uno scheletro di un animale, azionato da un meccanismo. Il sangue che scorre nella Giuditta e Oloferne di Artemisia Gentileschi (1593/1656), prestito della Pinacoteca di Bologna, viene come raccolto dalle larghe “bende” con le quali Iannis Kounellis ricopre il suo letto. Una presenza questa di Kounellis, che anticipa la sua partecipazione al Padiglione Italia della Biennale di Venezia 2015 (insieme al fotografo Biasucci, Longobardi, Paladino, Parmiggiani e altri ancora). In una Vienna sempre molto conscia di aver scritto il principale capitolo della storia della psicoanalisi, l’opera di Douglas Gordon basata su un filmato d’epoca, girato all’interno di un ospedale, e che riprende una malata in stato d’isteria, ci introduce al capitolo della malattia che diventa molto più evidente quando ci troviamo di fronte alla scultura iperrealistica di un allettato (opera di Elmgreen & Dragset). Talmente vera che quando fu esposta al Bunker di Berlino, ed era visibile da una feritoia dall’altro lato di un edificio, molte furono le telefonate allarmate. Del sesso si occupa Sarah Lucas con quel suo famoso materasso antropomorfo, ma anche molto caricaturale per come, a volte, donna e uomo sono ridotti esclusivamente ai propri genitali.  Jake e Dinos Chapman fanno mimare l’atto sessuale a due personaggi gonfiabili (maschio e femmina) a ricordarci come esista anche questo problema di comunicazione affettiva, che esclude, o elude,  il contatto vero,  preferendo ad esso un rapporto sterile, dove l’altro è solo un bambolotto, che soggiace a ogni comando di chi lo ha in uso. Rispecchiando la solitudine di chi vuole  compiacersi solo del proprio desiderio, a senso unico.

I’m writing this article at night. This is a precious moment of silence and thought; these are sublime hours of great vigilance. Sleepless, just like the title of this exhibition, which has opened at the 21er Haus in Vienna. Everything revolves around the idea of the bed, as a metaphor for life, death, disease, sex, sleep, dreams; sleep often becomes insomnia. The bed is also the emblem of peace when we remember that famous picture of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, who let themselves be photographed in a moment of intimacy to advocate peace: “make love and not war” (this picture was taken during the period of the Vietnam war). The choices of curator Mario Codognato have really touched all the strings, starting from the piece of furniture itself, celebrated with a beautiful Thonet cradle alongside Anselm Kiefer’s bunk beds, stacked precariously one on top of another to signify that this is the result of many small imbalances. To stay on the cradles theme, there is one made by Sherry Levine, empty and cold (made of steel), which seems to be waiting for the child that Lavinia Fontana painted in her sumptuous Renaissance work, placed close to Levine’s piece. The Cuban duo Los Carpinteros rethink the bed in the form of a slide equipped with mattresses. Equally joyful is Yayoi Kusama’s bed, sprinkled with red dots, as if it had the measles. Less reassuring is the bed by Indian artist Sundarshan Shetty who placed an animal skeleton onto it, put into movement by a mechanism. The blood flowing in Judith and Holofernes by Artemisia Gentileschi (1593/1656, on loan from the Pinacoteca di Bologna), seems to be ready to be soaked up by the broad “bandages” with which Jannis Kounellis covered his bed. Kounelli’s presence in this show anticipates his participation in the Italian Pavilion of the 2015 Venice Biennale (together with the photographer Biasucci, Longobardi, Paladino, Parmiggiani and others). In a Vienna always very conscious of having written the main chapter in the history of psychoanalysis, the work of Douglas Gordon based on a vintage film shot in a hospital, documenting a patient in a state of hysteria, introduces us to the theme of disease that becomes much more obvious when we see the hyperrealistic sculpture of a bedridden patient (by Elmgreen & Dragset). It is so realistic that when it was exhibited at the Bunker in Berlin, and was visible only through a slit on the other side of a building, there were many worried phone calls. Sarah Lucas deals with sex, with her famous anthropomorphic mattress, something of a caricature as, at times, men and women are reduced exclusively to their genitals. Jake and Dinos Chapman mimic the sexual act with two inflatable characters (male and female) to remind us of the problem of affection, which is often left out of interpersonal communication so that instead of real contact, all that is left is a a sterile relationship in which the partner is nothing more than a doll who acquiesces to every command of the person using him or her. And this is mirrored by the loneliness of those who wish to take pleasure only from their own desire, one-way.

 

 

Giornata della Memoria, il pittore Daniel Schinasi ricorda

E’ stato spesso detto che, dopo Auschwitz, gli ebrei sentano come impossibile fare ancora musica, dipingere, scrivere, e questo si dice per indicare il valore azzerante di quella tragedia che si compì nel nome della superiorità di una razza su tutte le altre, e che mirava anche ad annientare l’anima di un popolo. L’orchestrina femminile che suonava per accompagnare i propri correligionari verso le camere a gas è il paradosso della musica stessa, normalmente concepita per allietare lo spirito delle persone. Ma poi vediamo quanta arte, musica, letteratura sia stata fatta in seguito, a testimonianza della vittoria della vita su chi voleva sradicarla dal mondo. Oggi si celebra la Giornata della Memoria per ricordare tutte le persone morte nei campi di concentramento in Germania come altrove. Giornata che dovrebbe essere un monito contro l’insorgenza di altri orrori simili, ma vediamo bene che la messa in pratica dell’odio dell’uomo su un altro uomo, per motivi razziali e religiosi, non finirà mai. E, come dice Papa Francesco, è certamente più difficile fare la pace che non la guerra. In questa Giornata la parola è ai protagonisti, ai sopravvissuti. A chi può ancora raccontare come sono avvenuti fatti, senza ombra di dubbio, perché ricordare è difficile e doloroso. Il pittore neo-futurista Daniel Schinasi stasera a Londra, all’Istituto italiano di cultura (incontro coordinato da Susan Kikoler, importante storica dell’ebraismo in Italia e Direttrice della Società italo-britannica a Londra), racconta davanti alla telecamera, la sua fuga dall’Egitto, per il rimpatrio in Italia durante la guerra di Suez. (L’ebreo italiano di Alessandria, film diretto da Giuseppe La Rosa e Oliviero Olmi). Mentre ricorda, vediamo il pittore al lavoro sul dipinto di grandi dimensioni dedicato a Galileo.

Arte e cibo, Brescia ha iniziato il countdown dell’Expo. Food&Art, Brescia begins the countdown

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La prima città ad occuparsi del cibo nell’arte è stata Brescia, in larghissimo anticipo su Milano e sull’Expo interamente incentrata su “nutrire il pianeta”. La mostra a Palazzo Martinengo si è infatti inaugurata il 24 gennaio e durerà oltre giugno, mentre le mostre milanesi partiranno dal primo maggio. Il tema della natura morta è arcinoto, lo hanno dipinto maestri di ogni tempo, specie nel Cinquecento e nel Seicento italiano ed europeo. E, ancor oggi, molti artisti, di stampo iperrealista, ne fanno la propria bandiera di abilità, ad imitazione-inganno della Natura. La mostra bresciana (a cura di Davide Dotti), offre un’ampia panoramica partendo da opere poco viste, come Il mangiatore di ricotta del Campi , via via passando per la pop-art (con l’Ultima Cena di Warhol, e anche la sua Campbell soup) fino alle tavole abbandonate di Daniel Spoerri (con piatti e stoviglie sporche). La scultrice ceroplasta Paola Nizzoli ha lavorato invece a una “piramide” alimentare, sorta di Paese del Bengodi della nostra civiltà da un lato iperalimentata, e dall’altro sottoalimentata. Ma la vera sorpresa è quell’imponente scultura alla maniera dell’ Arcimboldo (1526/1593), Il Custode dell’orto, un “unicum” che traduce nella pietra arenaria gli stilemi della sua pittura, una concrezione di frutta e di ortaggi (della terra lombarda), dal melone cantalupo alla verza, alle due grosse rape rosse che compongono le natiche. La scultura (attribuita a un anonimo scultore lombardo attivo nella seconda metà del XVII secolo) rimanda a certe raffigurazioni di Ercole nella statuaria classica e poi a quell’Homo sylvestris (che ha per pelle la vegetazione), discendente di Silvano, il dio latino dei boschi.

The first city to deal with food in the art is Brescia, in broad advance on Milan and the Expo, entirely focused on “feeding the planet.” The exhibition has been inaugurated at Palazzo Martinengo January 24th, while the Milan shows will start from May 1. The topic of still life is very well known, and has been painted by italian and european masters of all time, especially in the XVI and XVII century. And, even today, many artists, hyperrealist, make its flag of skill, in imitation of Nature-deception. The exhibition in Brescia (curated by David Dotti), provides a broad overview, starting from works little viewed, such as the Cottage cheese eater by Campi, gradually passing through Pop Art (with the Last Supper of Warhol, and also his Campbell soup) to the Tableau piège by Daniel Spoerri (abandoned tables with plates and dirty dishes). The sculptress wax modeller Paola Nizzoli produced her food “pyramid”, sort of Paese del Bengodi of our civilization on one hand hypernourished and on the other undernourished. But the real surprise is that impressive sculpture in the manner of Arcimboldo (1526/1593), The Keeper of the garden, a “unique piece” which translates into the sandstone the stylistic features of his painting, a concretion of fruits and vegetables (species that grows in Lombardy), from cantaloupe melon to cabbage, to the two big beetroots that make up the buttocks. The sculpture (attributed to an anonymous Lombard sculptor active in the second half of the XVII century) refers to certain representations of Hercules in classical statuary and moreover to the Homo sylvestris (with vegetation for skin), descendant of Silvanus, the Roman god of the woods.

Inaugurata Artefiera a Bologna, anche nel nome di “Je suis Charlie”.

 

L’onda lunga della reazione agli attentati di Parigi è giunta fino all’Artefiera di Bologna, inaugurata ieri con un grande afflusso di pubblico a inviti. Portabandiera della reazione e della solidarietà alle vittime è stato Lucio Perone che si è così allineato con la protesta-fiume che si è sollevata in mezzo mondo. Realizzando prontamente con un’opera (una serie di matite colorate sovrastate dalla scritta “Je suis Charlie”), venduta ad una collezionista francese per 6mila euro. Ma un altro gallerista ha invece preferito astenersi dal presentare i lavori di Patrizia Guerresi, in arte Maimouna (da molto tempo convertita all’Islam) che nelle sue opere fotografiche presentava bambini intenti a giocare con pallottole ed obici, armi che, come sappiamo dalle cronache dall’Africa e dal Medioriente, sono davvero nelle loro mani, e non per finta.

 

Successi postumi. La fiera, nel suo complesso, si presenta come un classico, con il padiglione 26 più che nazionale, nazionalistico. Vediamo un’abbondanza di superfici specchianti di Pistoletto (degli anni più recenti), dei Fontana sempre di grande impatto (da Tornabuoni e da Mazzoleni), specie con i suoi teatrini (da Antonio Battaglia e da Il Castello che presentano anche gli intrecci di Marrocco), una forte presenza di Pino Pinelli con le sue forme sature di pigmenti puri (una coppia di atomi, 9500 euro da Poleschi Arte). E poi continua l’ascesa postuma di Paolo Scheggi, mentre si prefigura quella di Baj con i suoi generali che tornano alla ribalta (25mila euro da Guastalla Centro Arte). Molto gettonati i protagonisti dell’arte ottico dinamica sbocciata negli anni Sessanta con Dadamaino, Marina Apollonio, Nanda Vigo, Chiggio e Biasi, che avrà una personale a Parigi da Tornabuoni e poi a New York. Necessario anche l’omaggio a Burri (in previsione della grande mostra dell’artista al Guggenheim di New York, in ottobre) e il gallerista Sapone di Nizza (galleria che fu punto di riferimento anche per Picasso e Giacometti) presenta uno stand di grande purezza formale, con quattro cellotex (dai 400 ai 600mila euro l’uno), sei maquettes di grandi opere (ognuna 40mila euro) e una serie di multipli non in vendita. Da Contini è la scultura ad avere un rilievo primario, con l’omaggio allo scomparso Mitoraj, e al vivente Robert Indiana, famoso per quel suo Hope, di cui oggi tanto si sente il bisogno.

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Un peso sulla schiena. Mazzoli padre espone una tela di grandi dimensioni di Schifano, un grande omaggio alla maternità, con una donna che sforna figli come conigli. Dipinto realizzato dall’artista in un momento di massima felicità, quando ebbe il primogenito. Mazzoli figlio è sul versante di una contemporaneità più tagliente e ci presenta una scultura di Donato Piccolo, una figura maschile, sulla cui schiena sono piazzati meccanismi per scrivere (20mila euro). Decisamente affascinante la scultura Panorama di Vaclav Cigler, realizzata in cristallo ottico bombato, che riflette l’ambiente circostante (da Caterina Tognon a 35mila euro). Un’opera che rimanda al celebre quadro del Parmigianino. Da Vistamare troviamo invece un interessante lavoro di Rosa Barba dal titolo Coupez ici (tagliate qui). Realizzato con un nastro di pellicola in cui c’è scritto l’esatto contrario, ossia ne pas couper ici (non tagliate qui), costo 40mila euro. Nella nutrita sezione delle gallerie che trattano la fotografia (a cura di MIA), segnaliamo i lavori di Migliori (da Valeria Bella), di Irene Kung, di Patrick Willocq (dai 3800 ai 6500 euro, allo Studio Clelia Belgrado), di Thierry Konarzewski. Va sempre forte la pittura materica di Jason Martin, opera venduta da Mimmo Scognamiglio per 100mila euro. E davvero fuorvianti sono le sculture in marmo di Paolo Viale che imitano alla perfezione il legno (di una cassetta di verdura) e la gomma (di un pneumatico), da Poggiali e Forconi che presentano anche Zorio, Papetti, Pignatelli e J&Peg. Alla Boxart lavori di Emilio Isgrò, uno dei prossimi maestri a salire nelle quotazioni di mercato.

Kimsooja, i colori dell’universo.Kimsooja’s universe’s colors

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Sulla teoria dei colori, nei secoli, si sono espressi vari studiosi, e anche un poeta come Goethe. L’artista coreana Kimsooja, che da anni ha messo al centro della sua ricerca (anche spirituale) la luce, la Natura e lo spazio, ci presenta oggi alla galleria Tschudi di Zuoz (in Engadina) una concezione del colore che deriva dal rapporto tra Yin e Yang, oltre che dalla riflessione che ne fa il Confucianesimo e il Taoismo. Con la parola Obangsaek i coreani definiscono lo spettro di colori della natura dell’universo. E ad ogni colore corrispondono elementi naturali, profumi, desideri e caratteristiche umane.

 

 

Obangsaek is the Korean color field that represents the nature of the universe. Signifying the four cardinal points and the center, the five colors of Obang (directionality) and Saek (color) draw from the philosophies of the cultures that originally formed the Ural-Altaic linguistic family. The theory of the colors derives from the relationships of Yin and Yang, Confucianism and Taoism. Obangsaek assigns elements of nature, flavors, wishes, desires and characteristics of human nature to each of the colors. Yellow at the center, signifies universe, earth, power and dignity. East (blue) represents wood, spring and happiness. West (white) is metal, autumn, innocence and truthfulness. South (red) is known as the color for summer, fire, creativity and passion. North (black) is water and winter, intelligence and wisdom. The color spectrum presented in this exhibition is a secondary color spectrum associated with the symbolic Obangsaek color field.

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Galerie Tschudi is pleased to present To Breathe: Obangsaek by acclaimed multi disciplinary conceptual artist, Kimsooja. The exhibition, which is the artists’ second solo at Galerie Tschudi, includes several new works and many others that have never been shown in Europe. To Breathe: Obangsaek explores the artist’s ongoing questions as a painter and Obangsaek theory, which has led her to move beyond the surface to the activation of space as an experience of light in such site-specific installations as The Crystal Palace in Madrid, the Korean Pavilion at the 55th Biennale di Venezia and most recently in A Needle Woman: Galaxy was a Memory, Earth is a Souvenir at Cornell University, New York.

The exhibition title comes from the site-specific installation, To Breathe: Obangsaek which was first realized as part of “The Lift” elevator wallpaper project, organized by Art21 at the Bloomberg building in New York in 2013. In this installation, wallpaper printed with obangsaek pattern envelops the viewer, activating the body as the fifth element of directionality—the center. In other rooms Deductive Object: Obangsaek (2014) carpets—similar to those used in Korean weddings—roll up or stretch out, leading directionality in relation to bodies and their journeys. Similarly, the Seven Wishes (2004) print portfolio translates the cardinal points of Obangsaek into wishes that connect to the sensory and emotional experience of humanity as a symbolic frame of human life.

Moving from an autobiographical approach to reach universality in her use of bedcovers, Kimsooja expands her exploration to a global context in To Breathe – The Flags (2012), as a frame of nationhood that leads to transnational status. In this video piece, 246 national flags dissolve in a continuous loop, their iconic surfaces morphing into one another. In the first iteration of this work, which was commissioned by the IOC Olympic Museum, Lausanne for the 2012 London Olympic Games, the artist layered the flags of all the participating countries in a reflection of the unifying spirit of the games. In To Breathe – The Flags, this proposition is expanded to include all of the world’s national flags in alphabetical order without hierarchy or political prejudice, in the hope of creating a visual experience whereby national difference and conflicts can be merged and harmonized as one.

Drawing us back from the symbolic to the essence of humans and life, the video works Fire of Air (2009) and Mirror of Air (2010) are extracts from the artist’s explorations of the elemental forces of nature and their relationship of mutual circulation and connection. This powerful presence of matter is questioned by the tiny voids in sand created by crabs’ regurgitation on a beach near the Yonggwang nuclear power station, as depicted in the Architecture of Vulnerability (2010-2013) lightbox series. These images of an elemental structure of presence and absence created by nature, recall the relationship of Yin and Yang to the human body, which has been a central concern of Kimsooja’s work for many years.

An Album: Hudson Guild (2009) simultaneously evokes a sense of past, present and future through video portraits of elderly people at Hudson Guild Community Center in New York. The figures—who appear at times facing the viewer and at times with backs turned, respond by turning to face the camera when the artist calls their names, recalling the memory of her deceased father.

Deductive Object: Unfolding Bottari (1991-2014) includes 223 images taken by the artist at flea markets around the world. Accumulated, the vulnerability of objects in a moment of transition questions the destination of human desire and that of possession.

All of Kimsooja’s investigations are contextualized from the processes of mundane daily acts such as sewing, weaving, wrapping and unfolding that begin with her gaze as a painter and expands towards all possible directionalities.

The multiple directionality of the artist’s gaze actively draws the delicate thread that she follows so compellingly in the Thread Routes series. In this series, the films function as a structural investigation into the similarities in performative elements of textile construction and their relationship to nature, architecture, agriculture and gender relationships across cultures and geographic zones.

For the first time in Europe, Kimsooja will present Thread Routes – Chapter II (2011) which is the second in the six part series of films shot on 16mm. Filmed in various European cities, the film depicts a wide variety of lace making techniques, woven together with images of delicate yet grand European structures such as the Duomo in Milan, the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Sedlec Ossuary in Kutna Hora and La Alhambra in Granada. The bold, masculine and power-oriented monumental architectural forms and structures are juxtaposed with the delicate, feminine and ephemeral lace making alongside the structure of local flowers and vegetation.

Since the late 70s, Kimsooja has transformed and redefined the notion of painting into object/sculptural pieces, performance, video, and site-specific sound and light installations. Her innovation has been to question the surface/tableau, self and the other; dealing with existential, natural, cultural and political borders from the concept of obangsaek and its dimensionality with relation to the artist’s body in the world; contextualizing her own concepts in parallel to Western art history.