Paper Media: Boetti, Calzolari, Kounellis

Alighiero Boetti, Pier Paolo Calzolari, Jannis Kounellis
2019

This book is published by Magazzino Italian Art Foundation on the occasion of the exhibition Paper Media: Boetti, Calzolari, Kounellis, curated by Francesco Guzzetti at The Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art, New Paltz, August 28 – December 8, 2019.

Catalogue Editor and Exhibition Curator
Francesco Guzzetti

Editorial and Production Management 
Karolina Chojnowska

Essay
Francesco Guzzetti

Text
Wayne Lempka
Nancy Olnick & Giorgio Spanu
Gabriella Perez

Exhibition organized by
Magazzino Italian Art Foundation
The Samuel L. Dorsky Museum

Photography
Marco Anelli
 

 

Publish Date: September 2019

Format: Softcover

Category: Art - Collections, Catalogs, Exhibitions

Publisher: Magazzino Italian Art Foundation

Design: Waterhouse Cifuentes Design

Trim Size: 8.5 x 5.6 (21.6 x 14.2 cm)

ISBN: 978-1-7322646-3-2
Library of Congress Control Number 2019908678

© 2019 Magazzino Italian Art Foundation

 

About the Artists

Alighiero Boetti was born in Turin into a middle-class family. His mother, Adelina Marchisio, was a pianist and professor at the Cons ervatory of Turin. Since his early years, he was an avid reader and frequently visited galleries such as Galleria Galatea and Galleria Notizie, which showed modernist and post-war international avant-garde. While Boetti has some formal schooling, he decided to drop out of college early on and began working as a self-taught artist.

In 1962, he moved to Paris, where he stayed for two years, getting acquainted with the work of international artists and training in drawing and printing. In France, he met Annemarie Sauzeau, who bec ame his wife in 1964 un til 1987, and had two children, Matteo and Agata. The artist then married Ca terina Raganelli in 1990, with whom he had Giordano.

Boetti’s first solo exhibition took place at Galleria Christian Stein in Turin in January 1967, presenting “objects” made from a large variety of materials. Nineteen sixty-seven marked the beginning of Arte Povera, which the artist has always been associated with. Towards the end of the 1960s, Boetti developed a playful attitude and increasingly focused on the analysis of the conventional systems affecting individual and social life, such as language and mathematics. While he participated in all the most prominent international exhibitions of Post-minimalist and Conceptual Art, he took his examination to the extent of questioning the status of the artist as creator, too. For him, the identity of the artist was inherently double, split between conception and execution, individual ideas and collaborative procedures. In 1972, Boetti started to sign his works by adding an e (and) between his first and last name, Alighiero e Boetti being his double persona. The same year, he left Turin and moved to Rome.

In 1971, he began to travel extensively in Afghanistan and realized his first embroideries which were made by local Afghan embroiderers based on the artist’s designs. The collaboration led to the creation of the artist’s most famous series which he would develop throughout all his life, such as Mappe, Arazzi, and Tutto. These works, like other major series developed since the 1970s (such as Biros, the works made with ball-point pen), were all based on binary oppositions of concepts of order and disorder, individual and society, rules and variations, nature and artifice.

The experimentation with new techniques and media and the combination of drawing and writing, Western and Eastern culture, consistently characterized the work of the artist since the 1980s. A broadly acknowledged artist, Boetti participated in major exhibitions, both in Europe, such as Magiciens de la terre (1989) at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, and the United States where he had his first solo show in 1972, until his death in 1994 in Rome.

In 1971, he began to travel extensively in Afghanistan and realized his first embroideries which were made by local Afghan embroiderers based on the artist’s designs. The collaboration led to the creation of the artist’s most famous series which he would develop throughout all his life, such as Mappe, Arazzi, and Tutto. These works, like other major series developed since the 1970s (such as Biros, the works made with ball-point pen), were all based on binary oppositions of concepts of order and disorder, individual and society, rules and variations, nature and artifice. 

The experimentation with new techniques and media and the combination of drawing and writing, Western and Eastern culture, consistently characterized the work of the artist since the 1980s. A broadly acknowledged artist, Boetti participated in major exhibitions, both in Europe, such as Magiciens de la terre (1989) at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, and the United States where he had his first solo show in 1972, until his death in 1994 in Rome. 

Pier Paolo Calzolari was born in Bologna. In his early years he spent most of his time in Venice, being deeply fascinated by the light and the art of the city. He went back to Bologna in 1965 and settled at Palazzo Bentivoglio where his studio operated as the artist’s first studio, exhibition space and venue of cultural programs. There he exhibited his early paintings and then realized the first performance/site-specific installation, titled Il filtro e benvenuto all'angelo [The Filter and Welcome to the Angel]. Those early performative works were meant to engage the beholder in what the artist called the “activation of the space.” 

In 1967, he moved to Urbino in 1967 where he expanded his investigations and defined the t enets of his practice. Assembling natural elements like tobacco leaves and salt with metals (lead, copper) as well as mechanical systems, like neon signs and refrigerating motors, Calzolari elaborated a specific vocabulary of forms. Often referencing literary sources, his works focus on the alchemic transformation of matter and the poetic sublimation of raw materials into the realm of art. 

Calzolari’s work showed several affinities with Arte Povera, which he was immediately associated with. He expressed his artistic concern in the seminal essay Casa Ideale [Ideal Home], published in the catalogue of the landmark group exhibition Op Losse Schroeven (Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, 1969), gathering leading representatives of international Post-minimalist and Conceptual Art. His work soon gained international recognition, which led to his first solo exhibition in the United States at Sonnabend Gallery in 1971. 

In 1972, Calzolari returned to painting and internalized it in his new practice, juxtaposing pictorial marks with real objects hung on flannel or cardboard. His interest in performing art never waned and since the 1970s Calzolari has done several multimedia installations aligning painting, sculpture, process-based systems and performance. He traveled consistently at that time, staying in Milan in 1973 for eight years then moving to Turin. In 1982, he ended up in Vienna, where he focused particularly on painting. In 1984, he moved back to Italy and settled down in the same region where he had lived after leaving Bologna, the Marche, mostly the area of Montefeltro, where Urbino is loc ated. 

Throughout his career, Calzolari participated in numerous art residencies abroad, especially in France. He continues to focus on the examination of the relationship among space, time and body. He lives and works between Montefeltro and Lisbon, Portugal, with his second wife, Karine Arneodo Calzolari. On June 8, 20 19, Pier Paolo Calzolari: Painting as a Butterfly, a major retrospective focusing on his drawing and painting practice curated by Achille Bonito Oliva and Andrea Viliani, opened a t the MADRE mus eum in Naples. 

Jannis Kounellis was born in Piraeus (Athens), left Greece in 1956 and moved to Rome where he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts, under the guidance of Toti Scialoja. In his early y ears, he bec ame acquainted with in ternational modernism as well as the latest trends in Abstract Expressionism. In his first solo exhibition, held in 1960 at Galleria La Tartaruga, Kounellis showed paintings and works on paper displaying a new alphabet of bold marks and signs derived from a primordial realm of language. 

Actively engaged in the lively artistic community in Rome, Kounellis developed his interest in primary structures and expression and in 1967 began to internalize humble non-art materials taken from nature and everyday life. His assemblages of different media and substances reassessed the tenets of art and addressed major cultural issues: the awareness of the past, the universal human condition, the impermanence of history, and the conflict between nature and culture. Thanks to radical installations such as the exhibition of twelve living horses in the space of the Galleria L’Attico in Rome in 1969, Kounellis was soon involved in Arte Povera. 

As a result of a moment of disenchantment in the 1970s, the artist, after focusing on primary natural forces, such as fire, developed a deeper examination of the impact of history and culture on the human condition. Such concerns were staged in increasingly theatrical works and performances, such as Tragedia civile (1975). 

Although his works look like three-dimensional installations, Kounellis always considered himself a painter: “Painting is the construction of images,” he said in an interview in 2011, “And it is such if it is revolutionary, without restraints from the imagination.” Since the late 1960s, he participated in major international exhibitions in Europe and in the United States, where he had his first solo show in 1972 at the Sonnabend Gallery in New York. 

Towards his later years, Kounellis expanded the sense of drama inherently related to his work and conceived powerful installations such as the exhibition at Espai Poblenou in Barcelona in 1989—where he hung freshly slaughtered oxen on metal plates lit by oil lanterns—and the show in Athens in 1994, where he gathered a group of large-scale works in the dark interiors of the cargo ship Ionion docked at the port of Piraeus. Between 1993 and 2003, Kounellis was a professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Düsseldorf. 

Jannis Kounellis died in 20 17 in R ome, where he lived for over sixty years. A major retrospective at Fondazione Prada in Venice, on view from May 11–November 24, 2019, organized by the Archivio Kounellis and curated by Germano Celant, pays homage to the artist with a selection of works spanning his career from 1959 to 2015.

 

About the Curator

Francesco Guzzetti holds a doctoral degree in History of Modern and Contemporary Art from the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa. Most recently, Guzzetti was the Lauro De Bosis postdoctoral fellow at the department of Visual and Environmental Studies at Harvard University in 2018. His residency and research at Magazzino have laid the groundwork for further investigation into the multifaceted media practices of Italian artists in the 1960s and 1970s, which he has conducted since his doctoral studies and is presenting in several current and upcoming publications.

Since his appointment as the inaugural Scholar-in-Residence at Magazzino, Francesco Guzzetti has been exploring the intricacies of works on paper and the significance this mode of material exploration had on artists affiliated with Arte Povera. The exhibition at the Dorsky Museum represents the culmination of his research on the drawing practices of Arte Povera artists as well as on the exhibition history and provenance of the works in the Olnick Spanu Collection.

 

About The Dorsky Museum
Through its collections, exhibitions and public programs, the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art supports and enriches the academic programs at the College and serves as a center for Hudson Valley arts and culture. With more than 9,000 square feet of exhibition space distributed over six galleries, The Dorsky Museum is one of the largest museums in the SUNY system. Since its official dedication in 2001, The Dorsky has presented more than 100 exhibitions, including commissions, collection-based projects, and in-depth studies of contemporary artists including Robert Morris, Alice Neel, Judy Pfaff, Carolee Schneemann, and Ushio Shinohara.