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Articles by: Mila Tenaglia

  • Art & Culture

    When Art is Life: Magazzino Opens in Cold Spring

    Magazzino, which translates to “warehouse” in English, was born thanks to husband and wife Giorgio Spanu and Nancy Olnick and their passion for postwar Italian art. What was in the 1980s a computer factory has acquired today, thanks to the architect Quismondo, a strong architectural identity.

    Situated approximately an hour outside of New York City in Cold Spring, Magazzino inaugurated its first show, paying homage to Margherita Stein, the founder of the historic Christian Stein gallery and pioneer of the arte povera movement.

    Olnick and Spanu are no strangers to this area. In fact, they are very much a part of the local community. They raised their kids in the Hudson Valley, and they collected important Arte Povera pieces, including Michelangelo Pistoletto, Mario Merz, Alighiero Boetti. Their house, designed by Alberto Campo Baeza, has become an art temple, that reflects their modernist and minimalist style and, at the same time, a homey space where they spend time when they are not in the city.  As they explained: “At one point, it became too small for the works that we had, and we then decided to buy an old factory, a warehouse, in 2013.”

     

    Discovering Arte Povera: Artists Clashing Against Industrial Society

    “We became interested in Arte Povera in the ‘90s thanks to a friend who advised us to visit the Rivoli castle - the two collectors told us - We saw a show on this conceptual movement, and we fell in love with the works of Giulio Paolini, Luciano Fabro, Marisa Merz, Giovanni Anselmo, and Pier Paolo Calzolari. We started studying this movement, which began at the end of the ‘60s”. “It was in that moment that we met the mythic figure of Margherita Stein, an incredible woman with a taste for contemporary art.”

    “For us, she was a great figure who rebelled against the art establishment, against everything that represented classicism; her gallery represented a beacon of the arte povera group,” Spanu and Olnick recounted.

    Margherita Stein, in fact, was very fascinated by these artists’ works. They were children of the transitory and changing post “economic miracle” era of the ‘50s. The creations of the Arte Povera movement were characterized by a clear refusal of traditional art, of its techniques and supports, opting instead for poor materials like earth, wood, iron, rags, plastic, and industrial scrap. Nature became the inspiration and one of the themes that artists like Mario Merz dealt with in La natura interloquisce sempre con se stessa? with his famous representation of the Fibonacci sequence.

    Visiting Magazzino, The New Art Warehouse

    Entering Magazzino an emblematic art work welcomes us: Michelangelo Pistoletto’s Stracci Italiani, from the Olnick Spanu collection. “We had asked the artist to create something for us that was an icon, something that represented Italy and Italian art and that inspired the young artists participating in Olnick Spanu’s Art Program. As Michelangelo puts it, “Poor Italy, always in rags.”

    The light that filters in from the warehouse’s large windows matches perfectly with the environment and the works. It’s a mix between nature and industrial architecture that lets us appreciate the installations and extraordinary works of these artists. In Paolini’s Mimesis two symmetrical plaster casts on wood bases recall a sculpture from the classic age. They’re placed one in front of the other, standing in conversation. Mimesis is fueled by a criticism against the concept of uniqueness and inimitability of the work of art.

    Walking through the space, we can reflect ourselves in Pistoletto’s mirrored paintings, which were created in the ‘60s. These represent the inclusion of the spectator and the surrounding environment in the work, which allows them to become, as Pistoletto says “the self-portrait of the world.”

    In Che fare? Mario Merz uses artificial neon lighting together with wax and aluminum: “It’s an emblematic and important line that Lenin first said in front of the politburo. These words were directed towards the group of the arte povera manifest,” Spanu explains.

    Another one of the most admirable pieces that Giorgio, Nancy, and Vittorio Calabrese, the Director of Magazzino unveiled to the public was Paolini’s Amore e Psiche: “During our first visit to Rivoli, we fell in love with this work and decided to begin the collection".

    Magazzino, A Point of Encounter Between Italian and American Artists

    Vittorio Calabrese, Nancy, and Giorgio underlined that “this space is not a museum or a private foundation, but it is a point of reference between artists, whether or not they’re Italian, and between people who want to enjoy an art collection for free and, most of all, to discover more about arte povera.”

    The Hudson Valley has been involved in the art world for quite some time. In fact, in the 19th century, a “school” of American painters was born there. Only a few train stops away from Cold Spring it is possible to visit other art spaces and cultural centers dedicated to contemporary works: the Dia:Beacon in Beacon and the Storm King Art Center in Mountainville.

    Giorgio Spanu himself, also as Chairman of Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò, has repeatedly had the chance to show his earnest commitment to the arts and the educational sector.

    What is Magazzino’s next step? “We’re preparing a great retrospective, the first in the United States, on Sardinian art, Maria Lai, at the same time as the MAXXI Museum in Rome in 2019".

    See also i-Italy video interview with Nancy Olnick  and Giorgio Spanu by Letizia Airos  >>>

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    www.magazzino.art

    olnickspanu.com

    Admission is free by appointment only.

  • Lo studio di Marisa Merz a Torino. Foto di Renato Ghiazza
    Arte e Cultura

    Marisa Merz e la poetica del quotidiano

    Ad un anno dall’apertura nello storico edificio noto per mezzo secolo come il Whitney Museum, il MET Breuer, continua con le rassegne di arte moderna e contemporanea da ogni parte del mondo. Lo fa con grande stile accogliendo una delle più prestigiose retrospettive negli Stati Uniti sui lavori dell’artista torinese Marisa Merz (Torino, 1926), unica donna italiana accostata al panorama dell’arte povera italiana. 

    Marisa Merz. The Sky is a great Space esplora cronologicamente tutta la carriera dell'artista. Dalla metà degli anni ‘60 fino ad arrivare alle più recenti produzioni. Dai primi esperimenti, come le Living Sculptures, fogli incurvati di allumino che sinuosi si snodano dal soffitto, ai primi modellini in cera, le cosi dette Testine, fino ai lavori in graphite e ai grandi quadri con colori accesi rappresentanti figure di donne. Il fattore dello spazio, la dimensione illusoria e impalpabile delle opere presenti al MET Breuer è qualcosa di molto vivido e tangibile. Ci parlano di una esperienza personale intessuta da una influenza non solo scultorea e pittorica ma anche architettonica con cui Marisa Merz “gioca”. Il ruolo dello spazio, è fondamentale nelle sue opere. Come L’altalena – The Swing – o le Living Sculptures che aprono le porte della mostra al MET e che fanno parte della prima fase di produzione. Ci si addentra dunque in un percorso che ci proietta nelle prime installazioni, che morbide fluttuano nello spazio, per poi arrivare nelle stanze laterali e centrali con le produzione degli anni '80 e '90 fino ai giorni nostri.

    Un cosmo costellato di elementi non convenzionali - poveri - come l’alluminio, il legno, la cera, filamenti di nylon, rame e grafite sono i protagonisti assoluti dei lavori della Merz, che svelano una estetica curiosa, provocante e seducente. Le grandi stanze del MET Breuer invitano a percorso evolutivo dell’universo di Marisa Merz, che prima di essere artista era soprattutto donna, ma anche moglie e madre. Sposata con Mario Merz, pittore e scultore esponente della corrente dell’arte povera, vivranno insieme una vita in bilico tra arte e sperimentazioni. Beatrice, la loro figlia, sarà fonte di ispirazione nel quotidiano di tutti i giorni. Infatti, come ci spiegherà Ian Alteveer, nelle sue opere emerge una dimensione domestica, biografica e familiare. Le opere presenti danno restituiscono un respiro domestico, quotidiano, hanno un significato diverso quando entrano nel museo e richiamano assolutamente lo studio-atelier dove Marisa lavora ancora oggi a Torino.

    Marisa Merz e la dimensione artistica del quotidiano

    Incontriamo il curatore della mostra Ian Alteveer proprio davanti una delle Living Sculpture realizzate da Marisa nel 1966: fogli incurvati di allumino che pendono dal soffitto si attorcigliano snodandosi in maniera morbida e ondulata. Sono imponenti ma allo stesso tempo dolcemente invasivi. “Le installazioni che vediamo dietro di me rivelano leggerezza e forza, giocano nell’architettura dello spazio del MET in maniera determinante. In realtà organizzare questa mostra è stato come adattare qui a New York lo studio dove Marisa vive e lavora .”

    “Lei cuciva questi fogli metallici con il punto metallico per la figlia Beatrice e li ammassava nelle stanze di casa. Li potevi trovare anche dietro i fornelli di casa” continua Ian Alteveer.

    Il curatore ci spiega di aver passato molto tempo a Torino con l’artista e di conoscere l’Arte Povera, di essersi innamorato dell’Italia fin da giovane durante uno scambio universitario a Firenze dove “Prima ho conosciuto l’arte barocca e rinascimentale, poi quella contemporanea da cui sono sempre stato attratto. Per me conoscere Marisa Merz dal vivo, spenderci del tempo insieme è stato molto importante per capire realmente chi è l’artista, come vive”.

    “Per la riuscita di questa mostra è stata indispensabile la collaborazione che ho avuto con la figlia, Beatrice, che gestisce la fondazione Merz, Mariano Boggia - studio assistant di Marisa e Mario Merz per molto tempo - e il co-curatore dell’Hammer Museum di LA dove la mostra poi si sposterà a giugno. New York e Los Angelese in particolare sono state molto importanti per l'artista in quanto città che hanno ospitato nel passato mostre sull'artista, come per esempio la Gladstone Gallery di New York.

    “Non è possibile collocare bene Marisa Merz in nessuna avanguardia artistica” ci spiega il curatore “C’è molta ambiguità su quanto lei si sentisse coinvolta nel panorama dell’arte povera, anche se naturalmente aveva partecipato a degli show con il marito Mario.”

    Per comprendere l’artista bisogna ricordare il contesto storico in cui lei viveva: siamo alla fine degli anni ‘60, in tutto il mondo compreso gli Stati Uniti, le donne che esprimevano i propri valori e le proprie idee attraverso l’arte dovettero aspettare la seconda ondata del femminismo per essere comprese, accettate e far parte del mondo artistico.

    “Allo stesso tempo” sottolianea Altveer “Lei non si riteneva parte del femminismo”. Marisa Merz era libera dagli schemi, dalle imposizioni, la si potrebbe definire una voce indipendente e forte del proprio tempo. Ciononostante non aveva paura di esprimere se stessa, di fare delle cose considerate stravaganti, soprattutti per quei tempi.

    The sky is a great space. Quando la scrittura è arte

    Un altro aspetto pratico di Marisa Merz è la scrittura e l’amore per la letteratura italiana classica. Queste hanno sempre fatto parte del processo creativo in tutte le sue sfumature. “Pensate al nome Beatrice - o meglio il diminutivo con cui la chiama Bea - ci fa capire il suo interesse per la letteratura classica di Dante Alighieri e La Divina Commedia”. Spiega Alteveer. “Bea è anche un lavoro inedito che vediamo qui appeso sul muro. Ci rivela la dimensione domestica e i tipi di lavori che faceva durante gli anni mentre la figlia cresceva. L’idea dell’eterno in Merz torna sempre maniera ciclica.”

    A Torino, nella casa-studio di Marisa Merz Ian Alteveer si è imbattuto nella sua grande libreria dove c’erano poesie scritte da lei e pubblicate sporadicamente, testi di cataloghi di mostre, collezioni di alcuni scrittori italiani degli anni '60 e '70.

    “Guardando e leggendo alcune pagine ci siamo imbattuti in alcuni esempi della scrittura di Marisa. Ma nulla di tutto questo è mai stato tradotto in inglese. Per il catalogo abbiamo deciso di pubblicare alcuni dei poemi di Marisa per la prima volta”. The Sky is a Great Space - ci rivela il curatore - è infatti uno dei versi di una sua poesia che per Alteveer è stato evocativo ed emblematico per racchiudere il concept della mostra negli States. “Questo poema ci rimanda anche a una performance che lei fece in un aereoporto a Roma nel 1970, città con cui ebbe un forte legame”.

    Una performance in volo: piccoli aneddoti di vita

    Durante la preparazione di una mostra vicino Roma presso la Galleria L’Attico di Fabio Sargentini, Marisa Merz chiese al gallerista di organizzare per lei un sorvolo di Roma che si svolse il 28 febbraio 1970. L’artista salì su un velivolo Cessna F172G del '65 e cominciò a comunciare via radio le quote della rotta ascoltate da Mario, rimasto a terra, e appuntate su un foglio da Sargentini. Il fotografo Claudio Abate documentò tutta l’azione e nella sequenza fotografica si vedranno Marisa, Mario Merz e Fabio Sargentini e il foglio sul quale il gallerista ha tracciato le quote della rotta che Marisa ha dettato dall’aereo. In quella stessa occasione Mario e Marisa si recano presso il Villaggio dei Pescatori a Fregene, vicino Roma, e Claudio Abate scatta una sequenza in cui Mario si muove sul bagnasciuga con le coperte di Marisa, che saranno poi esposte in mostra presso il garage di Sargentini.

    Il cielo, così caro a Marisa Merz, risulta una metafora costante nella vita di tutti giorni dove poter esprimere la propria vena artistica e poetica. Cè una linea divisoria tra arte e vita fatta di passione, energia e la mostra al MET breuer è riuscita a trasmettere questo universo.

  • “Living Sculpture,” in aluminum sheeting on view at The MET Breuer
    Art & Culture

    Marisa Merz: A Strong Voice of Our Time

    A year after its opening in the historic building that was known for half a century as the Whitney Museum, The MET Breuer continues presenting modern and contemporary art from all over the world. It does so in grand style by welcoming one of the largest retrospectives in the United States on Marisa Merz (Turin, 1926), a Turinese artist who was on the fringe of Italy’s Arte Povera movement.

    Marisa Merz.The Sky is a Great Space chronologically explores 50 years of Merz’s work: from the mid ‘60s to her most recent creations, from her first artwork like Untitled (Living Sculpture, 1966) – a series of large suspended sculptures – to her first wax models (her so called “testine”), from her works in graphite to her large pictures with bright colors representing women’s figures. All of these household objects have a different meaning; when they enter into the museum they harken back to the studio and the space where Marisa still works today. 

    The imperceptible and delusive dimensions of the works being shown, highlighted by the space in which they are shown, is something that is very vivid and tangible. They tell us about a personal experience but also about the extraordinary architectural space that Marisa “plays” with. The swing, Altalena per Bea (Swing for Bea), which Marisa Merz made for her daughter and the Living Sculpture that opens the doors of the MET are two perfect examples. After entering, in the side and central areas, you’ll see works from the 80s, 90s, and up until the present day.

    Unconventional elements such as aluminium, wood, wax, nylon threads, copper, and graphite are the protagonists of the Turinese artist’s work. They present an intriguing aesthetic that is both provocative and seductive. The MET’s large rooms invite visitors to view the evolutionary path of Marisa Merz’s work. Before becoming an artist, Merz was a woman, a wife, and a mother. She married painter, sculptor, and exponent of Arte Povera, Mario Merz, and the two would go on to live a life between art and experimentation. Their daughter, Beatrice, was a source of inspiration in their everyday lives. In fact, as Ian Alteveer explained to us, a domestic and biographical aspect emerged in her works. 

    Marisa Merz and the Artistic Aspect of Daily Life

    We met the show’s curator, Ian Alteveer, right in front of one of Marisa’s Living Sculptures from 1966. It contains bended sheets of aluminum that hang from the ceiling and twist and turn in a smooth, undulating manner. They’re both impressive and captivating. “The installations that we see behind me reveal agility and strength, and they play upon the MET’s architecture in a decisive manner. In reality, organizing this show was like adapting to the studio-atelier where Marisa lives and works in Turin.”

     

    Mr. Alteveer continued, “She stitched these metallic sheets together with staples for her daughter Beatrice, and she put them all over the rooms of the house. You could also find them behind the stove.”

     

    The curator explained to us that he spent a great deal of time in Turin with the artist in order to acquaint himself with l’arte povera. He’s been in love with Italy since he was young when he participated in a university exchange program in Florence: “First, I learned about baroque and renaissance art, and then contemporary art, which always interested me. For me to know Marisa Merz personally and to have spent time with her has been very important in truly understanding who she is and how she lives.”

     

    “The collaboration that I had with her daughter Beatrice Merz (who runs the Merz Foundation), Mariano Boggia (Marisa and Mario’s long-time studio assistant), and Connie Butler, Chief Curator at Hammer Museum and co-curator of LA’s Hammer Museum (where the show will move in June), has been fundamental for the success of this show. New York and Los Angeles, especially, have been places that previously hosted Merz’s shows, such as New York’s Gladstone Gallery.

     

    “It’s not possible to associate Marisa Merz with any artistic avant garde,” Alteveer explains to us. “There’s a lot of ambiguity regarding how involved she felt in the sphere of Arte Povera, even though she participated in some shows with her husband Mario.”

     

    To understand the artist, it’s important to remember the historical context in which she lived; in the ‘60s, across the entire world, including in the United States, women who were expressing their concepts and their ideas through art needed to wait for the second wave of feminism to be included, accepted, and to become part of the art world.

     

    “At the same time,” Alteveer stresses, “she didn’t consider herself to be a part of feminism.” Marisa Merz was free from labels, from frameworks, from impositions, that could have defined her as a strong voice of her time. Nonetheless, she wasn’t afraid to express herself, to do things that were considered bizarre, especially for those times.

     

    The Sky is a Great Space. When Writing is Art.

     

    Another practical aspect of Marisa Merz is writing and her love for classic Italian literature. These have both been a part of the creative process in all aspects. “Think about the name of her daughter–Beatrice–or better yet, the diminutive Bea; it allows us to understand her interest in Dante’s classic literature and The Divine Comedy,” Alteveer explains. “Bea is an original work that we see hanging here on the wall. It shows us the domestic dimension and the types of work that she did during the time when her daughter was growing up. With Merz, the idea of eternity always returns in a cyclical manner.”

     

    In Merz’s studio-house in Turin, Ian Alteveer happened upon Merz’s large library where there were poems that she had written and sporadically published, show catalogs, and collections from other Italian writers from the 60s and 70s.

     

    “Upon looking at and reading some pages, we stumbled upon some examples of Marisa’s writing. In some cases they were poems that were sporadically published, show catalogs, and collections of Italian writers from the 60s and 70s. But none of these has ever been translated into English. For the catalog, we decided to publish some of Marisa’s poems for the first time. The Sky is a Great Space – the curator reveals to us – is, in fact, a line from one of her poems that, for Alteveer, was evocative and emblematic in retaining the show’s concept in the United States. “This poem sends us back to a performance in which she was in an airport in 1970 in Rome, a city with which she had a strong tie.

    A Performance in Flight: Small Life Anecdotes

    While preparing for a show near Rome at Fabio Sargentini’s Galleria L’Attico, Marisa Merz urged the gallery owner to organize a flyover of Rome for her that would take place on February 28, 1970. The artist boarded a 1965 Cessna F172G and communicated her altitude via radio. Mario remained on the ground and listened, and Sargentini jotted-down notes on paper. The photographer Claudio Abate documented everything in a series of photographs. Marisa Merz, Mario Merz, and Fabio Sargentini can be seen in the photos, and the paper where Sargentini recorded the flight altitudes can also be seen. Also while in Rome, Mario and Marisa went to the nearby Villaggio dei Pescatori in Fregene. Claudio Abate took a series of photos of Mario along the water's edge with Marisa’s beach blankets. The blankets would later be shown in Sargentini’s garage.

    In Marisa Merz’s sky there’s a dividing line between art and life, a line made by passion and energy. The show at the MET Breuer absolutely demonstrates this lifestyle.

     

    *The exhibition is organized by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles.

     

  • Art & Culture

    Stadio della Roma: A Glorious Mix of Past, Present, and Future

     If you’re interested in Italian soccer and love the eternal city, you now have yet another reason to pack your bags for Rome. A brand new architectural project, expertly fusing tradition and a futuristic vision, is ready for construction. The one and only Stadio della Roma will be built in Rome’s Tor di Valle district.

    In architect Dan Meis’ words, “I was surprised to learn that there was such a large available  site at Tor di Valle. While not in the center of Rome, it is almost halfway between the airport and the city on the main highway.”

    Sports,Entertainment, and Architecture Dan Meis is a renowned American architect with over 30 years of experience under his belt. He is known as one of the best architects in the world, specializing in sDpaonrtMs e&is entertainment. His works have been on display in Europe, the Middle East and, naturally, the United States. He owns studios in Los Angeles and New York that serve many locations around the world.  

    Raised in a small city in Colorado, Meis quickly became enthralled with the world of sports. He was also equally attracted to the physical look of stadiums, the symbolism attached to them and the way spectators get swept up in a game. “I was taken by how passionate people are about stadiums and the teams who occupy them. I love working around the world and having the opportunity to engage in the culture and passion of local fans.”  

    From the Colosseum to the Stadium When looking at designs for the stadium it is hard not to note its resemblance to the Colosseum, the most important Roman amphitheater and the symbol of Rome itself. As Meis puts it, “It would be impossible to design a stadium in Rome without thinking about the powerfully iconic presence of the Colosseum. We knew that a new stadium would draw comparison so we wanted to make a respectful reference to it but in a very contemporary way.

    Our solution was to ‘wrap’ a modern steel and glass stadium with a floating stone scrim of Travertine that would be loosely based on the rhythms and fenestration of the Colosseum. The travertine would be quarried from the very same mountains that provided the stone for the Colosseum. In the end we hope we have created something very contemporary but that fits comfortably with the iconic monuments of Rome.”

    Transformative Architecture

    “I have been traveling to Tuscany on vacations with my family every year for the last twenty,” says Meis. “So I know Italy and Rome very well.” But the cultural research he conducted while working out designs for Stadio della Roma is not simply the byproduct of his passion for all things Italian;

    he is also interested in Italian fans, whom he admits cannot be easily placed into a convenient socio-political box. “Football fans are far more passionate and knowledgeable about their sport than any other,” he says. “Americans do not completely understand this yet, but it is changing. I am quite sure this type of soccer will be as popular in the U.S. as the NFL someday.”

    Tor di Valle may feel peripheral now, but thanks to the Stadio, it should soon become both a sporting hub and an artistic and cultural center operational seven days a week. “The idea is to transform this area into an entirely new sports, entertainment, shopping, and business district,” says Meis. “A new attraction in a city with some of the world’s most famous attractions.

    The stadium is envisioned to set a new bar for what’s state-of-the-art, not just in Italy but globally.” Stadio della Roma should be ready for the 2018 season and we’re hopeful it will pay proper homage to “I Giallorossi” (The Yellow- Reds) and the city of Rome.

  • "The Brooklyn Barge", The New Yorker, Emiliano Ponzi
    Art & Culture

    The Creativity of the Pen

    Picture a magazine or book whose cover struck you. Pick it up and flip through it. How many times did you feel attached to the memory of that image and think about how much that book, or that story, allowed you to feel something? The smell, the font, and the graphics of a text are all necessary ingredients for the gluttonous bibliophile. But how important is the creative component, hidden behind the written word, in publishing and journalism? In the last few years, particularly in 2016, illustration and design have had significant resonance.

    New York has become a fertile land for cultivating Italian “pens” big and small as well as new and old. From exhibits of the work of Italian illustrators curated by Melania Gazzotti to the detailed studies at the Italian Cultural Institute, there has been a drive to recognize the field. And then there was the XVI edition of the "Italian Language Week in the World" (October 17-23) entitled “L’italiano e la creatività: moda e design,” which saw the participation of extremely talented artists.

    An editorial revival

    “All of the most important editorial offices, from the New York Times to the New Yorker, are very attentive to new illustrators like Emiliano Ponzi and Olimpia Zagnoli. Above all, I believe that this is a stylistic factor, an important avant-garde that speaks to the sensibility of the American publishing industry,” says Stefano Imbert. At the Society of Illustrators, continues Imbert, illustrators are chosen from a diverse pool from all over the world, but it is the names of the Italians that stand out. “The result is a unique style that is in line with the times. Recently one of the shows had Stefano Delli Veneri, Chiara Vercesi, and the Balbusso sisters as some of the biggest names.”

    For ten years, Stefano Salis has been writing a column called Cover Story in which he describes a book cover and explains its success and how it functions in terms of visible grammar.

    “I believe that the sector of editorial graphics and illustration experienced a rise in price in Italy. This is one aspect of my positive outlook. In the early 2000s an important publishing house like Guanda decided to trust its graphic restyling effort to an important designer and illustrator, in this case Guido Scarabottolo, who was able to effectively use pencils and paint brushes as new technologies. The graphic impact had very simple illustrations on the cover, different from the vivid illustrations of Ferec Pinter, and it encouraged other editors to follow suit.”

    Technology and Creativity

    We are living in an era where creativity exists alongside technology, where a piece of paper can easily be substituted by a drawing tablet. “I believe that we are looking at the first generation of illustrators that can produce great work without ever touching a pencil or a paintbrush, says Salis. “Think of Emiliano Ponzi and Olimpia Zagnoli. I think of Franco Matticchio as an ‘old school’ artist who is removed from the new technologies.”

    Imbert finds the union of traditional and digital media, including Photoshop, very fascinating. However, paper is always the starting point. Understanding where the traditional intersects with technology has become a game of sorts for the artist, resulting unprecedented ways of working.

    “For example, the work of the Balbusso twins has a painterly base that permits texture to be electronically created and fused together.”

    Regarding the future of paper, Salis remains an optimist, reminding us that even in America eBooks haven’t caught on. Rather, we should use apps that, instead of goods, can be substituted with content from books. In the future publishing houses will need to keep in mind that it’s not a crisis of books, but a crisis of literature.

    “We are working toward a different way of thinking about images. They may be less detailed, as can be seen on Amazon or Google,” concludes Imbert. In the environment in which we are living now, illustration has been transformed into interior design, technology has become the new paintbrush and the cover of a book the new canvas. We’re still in the middle of an evolutionary period. 

  • Nicolo' De Giorgis "Contrasto Driade" per Fondazione Altagamma
    Facts & Stories

    Altagamma: Italianness and Excellence

    The Altagamma Foundation represents the best of the Italian lifestyle thanks to its over 100 partner companies, known all over the world for the quality
    of their products and services. “They are the ideal ambassadors of our country and are responsible for 4% of the Italian GDP,” says Stefania Lazzaroni, the Foundation’s director. “Our mission is to enhance the competitiveness in the high-end Italian industry while contributing to the economic growth of the country at the same time.” Over the course of more than two decades - in 2017 the Foundation will celebrate its 25th anniversary - Altagamma has supported its associates in a series of activities in the name of cooperation. “There is no better weapon than collaboration when competing in a complex and fluid global market,” says Lazzaroni.

    How does the Altagamma Foundation work? 

    It acts primarily as a Knowledge Center, and it collaborates with leading partners in research and international training such as Bain, BCG, McKinsey, Deloitte, BNP Paris Bas, and Bocconi. The Foundation produces studies on the high-end market every 8 years; its training activities are are supported by three master’s courses at the Bocconi University of Milan dealing with fashion, food, art, and design.

    Last but not least, the Foundation is an incubator of innovative projects intended to promote its own members and the Italian economy as a whole, both nationally and internationally. Two examples of Altagamma’s promotional events are Altagamma Contemporary Excellence  and Panorama.”

    The “Panorama” event was held this Summer in New York. Its main attraction was 360-degree virtual reality screen showing the beauty of “Made in Italy,” from music, to fashion, and to nature.

     How was this idea born and how did the project go in New York?

    “Panorama” was first presented at Expo Milano 2015, and it was a great success because it offered a unique showcase for this innovative visual representation of Italy’s beauty. Carlo Calenda, the Vice Minister of Economic Development who supported this project with courage and energy last year, wanted to take the installation to New York.

    On average, 600 people visited Panorama at the Grand Central Terminal every day for a total of around 20,000 visitors in less than a month. It was considered a great success by the partners of the project, including the Italian Trade Agency, Salone del Mobile, (Milan Forniture Fair), Camera della Moda, Simest, Camera di Commercio and the City of Milan.

    You promote the “Made in Italy” brand through Italian creativity. How are your ideas born? 

    It’s first of all our associate companies and their own needs that trigger Altagamma projects. Italian high-end products and services today are in a stage of regeneration that is both delicate and full of opportunities. This regeneration is a result of both the economic situation and of the ever-changing global society.
    Our most recent studies confirm that now more than ever consumers with high spending power, even if there is an abundance of personal luxury items, are always looking for new experiences, for instance in travel, well-being, and fine dining. Today the typical high- end consumer is more mature and pays more attention to the intrinsic values of the product, such as manufacturing quality and exclusivity, at the expense of the superficial values, such as the logo. People are also paying more attention to sustainability issues.

    What are the projects you are particularly proud of?

    One is the book and the exhibit “Italian Contemporary Excellence.” It was created to celebrate Altagamma’s 20th anniversary and tells the story of Altagamma companies through the eyes of 10 talented photographers who were called to interpret the soul and philosophy of our brands. Another is the concept restaurant called LARTE. It was created by the Altagamma Foundation and is located in the heart of Milan, next to famous opera theatre La Scala. It is a perfect example of the synergy between the creative industry and the worlds of art, culture, and food. LARTE will soon begin its own international expansion, starting in Dubai.

    What is the contribution of the high-end industry to the promotion of the image of Italy abroad?

    Italian authenticity represents a priceless intangible asset; studies on consumers’ perception of Italian companies validate this assumption. The advantages of high-end products aren’t just that they are well made, but they also encapsulate values, dreams, quality, and lifestyle. Highlighting the best that Italy has to offer is crucial to promote both our industry and the country as a whole.

    Future projects?

    In 2017 we will launch an important project promoting luxury tourism called “Altagamma Italian Experiences.” It’s a tourist itinerary geared for an elite international clientele, and its objective is to offer exclusive and highly personalized excursions, which include not only nature and art but also special experiences
    held at high-end stores. It will be an authentic way to immerse oneself completely into the Italian lifestyle. The other big project we are working on has to do with the area of professional training. Altagamma is partnering with the Italian government, academic institutons and private entities to create an innovative training center. We named it Scuola del Saper Fare Italiano. It will deal with the schooling of young professionals needed in the industry by using special techniques and avantgarde teaching methods.

    How important is the United States for you?

    The United States will always be the best market in the world for high-end products, accounting for almost 80 billion Euros in 2015. In this period of economic change China’s consumers seem to waver, but the United States still remains a staple for the development of our companies’ strategies. US consumers are among the most demanding and sophisticated in the world. 

    To see the video i-Italy realized during the presentation of Panorama in Grand Central >>>

  • The author of the book Michela Muserra
    Art & Culture

    What Makes Us Happy?

    Michela, you are an Italian artist based in Brooklyn, NY. Can you tell us a little about yourself?

    I was born and raised in Italy. I am from the beautiful region of Puglia, in southern Italy. I moved to NYC thirteen years ago. Back in Italy, I studied at the Accademia di Belle Arti. Upon graduating, I have been working with a start-up company creating cartoons and games for both cell phones and the Internet. I consider illustration to be my main background. However when I came to the US, I, as many others find themselves, began exploring many different and new fields (from the food industry to babysitting sporadically and other various freelance gigs).I also tried a couple of corporate jobs... but personally that was not right for me. Although I made ends meet to adequately survive in this jungle, I truly never lost focus of my main goal, which is doing what I love to do.

    Why did you choose to write a children’s book? Is this your first publication with Caracò? 

    It was never actually my intention to write a children’s book. Even I was surprised by the development of this book! It was such a quick and spontaneous
    process that I was done with all the pages before even realizing that I had “written” a book. I was experiencing an internal urge to communicate certain thoughts,
    so I found myself drawing them and writing them down. I only understood right after that all the drawings were connected and had a common line. That’s
    when I looked at all of them as a “picture book.” I am very pleased that my first publication was with Caracò because it is a young and energetic publishing company that emphasizes education and social communities in bringing ethics to young learners.

    “If You Are Happy and You Know It, Clap Your Hands” is the title of the book but also a nursery rhyme... who doesn’t know it? We all grew up with that song. What is the meaning of the book? 

    Yes, it’s probably one of the most famous nursery songs and I think it has been translated in languages around the world. Its as easily understood as it is popular because of its simple but powerful message about what we care about in life. All of us, indistinctly, no matter what our walk of life is, we are all searching for happiness. 

    In the book there are 35 illustrations, English text, and Italian text... Would you consider this book to be bilingual? Is the audience for children or adults?

     

    Ot was initially conceived in English only, but obviously, after meeting with Caracò we decided to also target the Italian consumers. Instead of just translating the book, we thought it would have been interesting to have it in both languages so that the book itself could become a teaching and learning tool. At first glance, the book appears to be for kids only. It’s a picture book, the illustrations are very simple and the title is a nursery rhyme... so it would obviously appeal to a younger audience. But the concept of happiness does not target a specific age... so it actually speaks to adults as well. And we also like the idea of having a book that can be read and appreciated, regardless of the reader’s age.

    What do the illustrations mean?

    Each illustration is a visual representation of each aphorism. While the aphorisms might refer to a deeper concept, the illustrations make ironic and funny statements.

    The main character of these illustrations is a simple figure of a sweet stylized man with a red heart drawn on his t-shirt. Does he embark with the readers on this wonderland journey?

    If we consider exploring the concept of happiness as an abstract journey...then yes. They travel together!

    Are you working on anything new for the future?

    Yes, I am working on a new book. This work is slightly more articulate. It’s still a picture book, but it contains an actual story line and dynamics that bring the two main characters to understand the importance of friendship to defeat loneliness. Hopefully, I will be able to share more soon about this second work.  

     

  • Gianni Plazzi (Giulio Cesare) e Dalmazio Masini (Marcantonio)
    Arte e Cultura

    L'ars retorica di Giulio Cesare

    Il potere evocativo delle parole, a volte, é più tagliante di un coltello, un silenzio assordante può essere doloroso come una guerra. Il logos (λόγος dal greco -parola, discorso, ragione) é qualcosa che nel teatro di Romeo Castelucci assume la capacità di scavare dentro l’anima dell’essere umano. E questo in Giulio Cesare - Pezzi staccati lo si percepisce sin da subito. Classe 1960 Romeo Castellucci é un regista teatrale e scenografo che ha sviluppato sin dai suoi esordi un teatro di provocazione, un linguaggio poliedrico nella quale che si fonde con la musica, l'archiettura, la scultura.

    Come ha riportato lo stesso Castellucci per il New York Times “Quello che é chiaro in Giulio Cesare é che la guerra é conseguenza di un discorso - il discorso é un arma”. 

    “Ri-immaginre il mondo attorno a noi” è il concetto che Il Crossing The Line Festival vuole portare tramite le differenti compagnie teatrali da tutto il mondo. Dal Bronx, a Midtown, passando per il Lower East Side fino al Financial District il sipario dell’arte e del teatro si e’ aperto a notevoli performances.

    Location iconica quella dove é stata fatta la prima teatrale. Il Federal hall, luogo natio della repubblica americana, situato nel cuore di Wall Street é uno spazio  dall’aspetto neo-classico eretto da colonne romane. Gli spettatori sono stati invitati ad assistere allo spettacolo seduti per terra, sul marmo, a mo' di anfiteatro, aspettando che il vuoto di uno spazio cosi solenne si riempia di qualcosa. Si diventa in un qualche modo cittadini romani temporanei. Tutto riporta all’agorà, la piazza, che nell’antica Grecia aveva la funzione di essere il luogo delle decisioni, il punto di incontro e scontro.

    La mente creativa di Castellucci in occasione del Crossing the Line Festival ha proposto all’audience americana una rivisitazione della tragedia shakespereana portando in scena delle parti emblematiche del Giulio Cesare (Spared Parts). In principio, nel 1997 la Socìetas Raffaello Sanzio, fondata dai fratelli Castellucci, portava in scena Giulio Cesare - Tratto da Shakespeare e dagli storici latini che ha segnato in ambito internazionale un solco profondo nel teatro contemporaneo.

    Due decenni dopo Romeo Castellucci ha presentato una versione frammentata, dei pezzi staccati per un intervento drammatico su Shakespeare come dice il sottotitolo stesso. La particolarità in questo caso é data dal modo in cui Castellucci fonde la parola con la tecnologia. Il potere dell' ars retorica diventa metafora stessa e protagonista dell'intero spettacolo. La parola non parlata, il gesto come discorso, l'apparato comunicativo del nostro stesso corpo. Le scene, basate su tre monologhi, vengono caricate da un pathos violento che si espande per tutta durata dello spettacolo.

    Nel primo caso attraverso una sonda ottica Castellucci compone la metafora stessa della parola che appare nuda e cruda per quello che é. L'attore Sergio Scarlatella che interpreta …vskij (probabile riferimento a uno dei padri fondatori del teatro moderno Konstantin Stanislavskij) si infila un sondino endoscopico fino alla glottide proiettando sulla parete del Federal Hall le proprie corde vocali. A seconda dell’intensità del discorso le corde vocali vibravano. Il logos, la parola, diviene semplice e pura emissione del suono.

    La seconda parte vede un Giulio Cesare solenne (Gianni Plazzi) il cui unico suono non é dato dalla parola ma dal movimento del camminare e del gesticolare. I suoi passi sono come rimbombi di un gigante che cammina. Il rosso della toga che indossa espressione del sangue di cui si macchierà. La stessa toga su cui Cesare sarà ricoperto dalla testa ai piedi e trascinato via in mezzo al pubblico che perplesso si sposta per creare spazio. Cesare indica, si impone solenne, gesticola e assume le sue decisione con il puro gesticolare.

    Il terzo monologo è quello che forse colpisce di più: Marcantonio è interpretato da Dalmazio Masini, attore e poeta laringectomizzato. Masini entra con la ferita bene in vista, è un Marco Antonio vittorioso quello che interpreta e recita la nota orazione funebre di Marco Antonio. La voce è “esofagea” e trasmette al pubblico tutta l’angoscia e l’enfasi del celebre discorso che lo porterà alla vittoria. 

    Come all’inizio un suono attira il pubblico cosi ciclicamente la scena termina con tante lampadine che scoppiano in maniera lenta e decisa.

    In una società come quella dei XXI dove i conflitti umani ed esistenziali, le guerre e il patriottismo sono ancora molto feroci il Giulio Cesare di Romeo Castellucci si inserisce definitivamente in quello che lui stesso definisce teatro antropologico.

  • Artist Serena Scapagnini
    Art & Culture

    Between Myth and Memory

    Serena Scapagnini's latest show, Synapses, has been on show at the Studio Vendome Art Gallery in New York from July through September 2016. The project will soon return to Italy with a major exhibition scheduled for 2017. We sat down with Serena for a chat about her life and art. 
     
    Your studies allowed you to become the eclectic artist you are today. How would you describe your intelelctual and professional journey?
    In both my literary and artistic training, there was always a strong influence based on a type of comparative approach to the language of art, which was later deepened by the approach of Mircea Eliade, an anthropologist and historian of religion who studies rituals, symbols, and mythology.
    At the University of Siena, I continued my studies of Art History, focusing particularly on the High Middle Ages. I studied visual structures in theophanic representations of the fifth century, which demonstrate the concept of a stratified universe with different layers of dense matter. I found this period to be very stimulating for my research in contemporary art because it was an expression of profound cultural syncretism that was practiced long ago, and, in some ways, revives itself in the present day. 
     
    You then studied at SVA, the School of Visual Arts in New York. What’s the role this city played in your artistic research?
    At the School of Visual Arts I pursued strictly artistic training; my master’s degree was in painting and mixed media. This stems undoubtedly from the influence of my maternal grandmother, who was an artist - Laura Caravita di Sirignano - and from my uncle, Fabio Mauri, who strongly encouraged my research from the beginning. As for the role that SVA and the city have played in my journey, the most important aspect would be putting me in direct contact with the people from the art world: the lectures, the meetings with curators and young critics, and the system of galleries. That is vital.
     
    Continuing with New York, what relationship do you have with the city, artistically speaking?
    New York is a privileged place for art, not only for its natural inter-cultural identity, but also because it’s a place where the interaction among people happens spontaneously. I adore the United States’ ability to give life to projects, to dreams, and its ability to put creative thought into effect. In New York I was also able to meet different artists; I formed friendships and artistic partnerships with some of them that have lasted for years. Take Indian visual artist Remen Chopra, for instance. Our common vision has allowed us to work together in several international exhibitions.
     
    On September 9, the Synapses exhibition ended with great success at the Vendome Art Gallery in New York. Curated by Nicollette Ramirez, Synapses is a project dedicated to the mind and was developed in collaboration with the Highley Lab - Program in Cellular Neuroscience of the Yale School of Medicine. Would you tell us a little more about it?
    The research on synapses started four year ago as a natural continuation of a study of wave frequencies. Brainwaves and the dendritic forms of neurons that allow the brain to function have been a great source of inspiration, for which I must thank my scientific partner, Professor Michael Higley from the Yale School of Medicine. This exhibition is dedicated to the mind and to its boundless possibilities, a good part of which still needs to be explored. In observing thought, I devote space to its absence and, in the more esoteric areas of my work, to an instant of inner silence. Synapses is part of an international exhibition that started in 2015  at the India Art Fair of New Delhi, then was presented at the Contemporary Art pavilion at the Expo Milano 2015,  and finally made its way to the United States in December 2015, with a personal show for Art Basel Miami held at the Miami Cultural Arts Center. After the US tour, the project will return to Italy with a major exhibition scheduled for 2017.
     
    The exhibition also presented a yet unpublished work, NOW. What is it? 
    NOW includes an unpublished video produced in vivo on synaptic processes in motion. In other words, light that passes through a transparent support, activating at regular interval, which corresponds to the scanning of the dynamcs of some synapses, performed by fluorescence. Their running towards each other allows for the flow of thought.
     
    Your works have been shown in many parts of the world. How would you describe the original value that you bring with your works?
    My artwork is like a stratification of levels that overlap in the construction of an image suggesting different levels of density. It’s a recurring element in my work which I always bring with me in different exhibition contexts: Asia, the United States, and Europe.
     
    You work with different materials. Which do you love to experiment with the most?
    They all have a role to play. Ink drawings and thick paint treated with pure pigment create more elegant forms, which tend to thin out until they seem to disappear into the white surface of the paper. The paper itself is specifically prepared with acidic solutions, so the image itself can be rarefied. In some areas of my work, homage is paid to the memory, to those familiar places of our mental circuits that are inhabited by figures and memories; in others areas these forms are furiously broken down.
     
    What is art to you?
    I believe that when a work of art is able to express its conceptual content, relying heavily on a poetic instance, then its language can be considered universal. The measure of a piece of artwork’s value, I believe, depends, after all, on its intuitive eloquence, based on its visual rhythm
  • Dining in & out: Articles & Reviews

    Grana Padang PDO: Not Only Tasty, But Healthy

    The saying goes that ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’. But what if we said that the same applies for the dietary supplementation of 1 ounce of Grana Padano cheese? These findings are confirmed by Dr. Giuseppe Crippa, who recently came to New York to present his study to the scientific community during a conference held by the American Society of Hypertension and at Eataly “for non-experts”.
     

    “In most Italian regions, Grana Padano cheese is part of an habitual diet and is widely
    available throughout the country. 

    We applied the scientific methods that are used to evaluate the effects of antihypertensive drugs to this trial, supplementing 1 ounce of Grana Padano or a placebo to the diet of patients with arterial hypertension each day for 2 months”.
     

    In other words, Grana Padano cheese contains some ‘tripeptides’—protein fragments that form during the aging of the cheese—that act with the same mechanism of action as some antihypertensive drugs, such as ramipril, lisinopril and captopril, for example.
     

    The study began in 2013 in Piacenza, in the Unit of Hypertension at the Guglielmo da Saliceto Hospital. The research was carried out after another pilot study that produced the same results as those that Dr. Crippa’s team has obtained today.  The only difference is that the placebo wasn’t used.
     

    According to his results—obtained under strict investigational measures—the supplement significantly reduces blood pressure in hypertensive patients whose blood pressure is slightly higher than normal. Paradoxically, the study is more significant in the United States than in Italy. “Americans are very attentive to this type of research” Dr. Crippa tells us, “I received a lot of offers to present my work in the United States and I will present it again in Seoul, Korea. We also expect to publish it in the biggest magazine on hypertension in the world.”

    Naturally the feedback has also been (and still is) extremely good in Italy. If you take a look on the Internet you can see that nearly 900 quotes appeared in the first few days after the publication of the results.” 

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