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Articles by: Cesare Baccheschi

  • Art & Culture

    Diego Rivera is Back to MoMa

    MoMa Museum is hosting a small but extremely interesting monographic exposition on the work of Diego Rivera bringing to New York a considerable amount of pieces of the artists. It is quite of a challenge to bring murals in the exposition rooms of the MoMa Museum but those are pieces of a series of “Portable Murals” that Diego realized in 1931 with large blocks of frescoed plaster, slaked lime, and wood. Those works have been sponsored by the Museum of Modern Art in 1931 inviting Rivera and his assistants to New York, six weeks before the beginning of his solo exhibition, in order to realize them. The exposition will be on from November 13, 2011 till May 14, 2012.

    The exhibition is placed on the second floor of the museum and it occupies 4 medium size rooms  offering a perfect showcase for such an uncommon type of art: Frescos. Considering the exceptionality of the medium, the exhibition is not only focused on the actual pieces but it also displays a series of additional materials such as pictures, illustrations, and also the sketches 1:1 of the frescos on paper that Diego Rivera used in order to have a better idea of how the frescos were going to be in the final stage of their realization.

    The exposition offers a very interesting opportunity to see the creative process used by Diego Rivera in order to achieve its goals but also to have some hints on the painting techniques that he used; in fact on a wall of the exposition a full size x-ray of the fresco Agrarian Leader Zapata is displayed. It displays how Rivera modernized this technique making it portable, painting the frescos over a metal armature composed with horizontal and diagonal bars casted in a steel frame and over multiple layers of cement and fresco mortar. The structure is sturdy enough to make the fresco relatively portable. One limitation tough is the size, which is relatively small but the frescos are big enough to give an idea of the impressive Diego’s styles.

    The fresco’s technique has been developed in Italy during the renaissance period and even before. One of the main purposes of this technique is not only to decorate the interiors of buildings such as churches and to tell stories in a form that could be understood by a wide audience, which in that period was mainly illiterate. Diego Rivera, spent a long time in Italy studying the different frescos techniques but also looking at how they have been used in the transmission of culture and values and actualizing them to the themes and issues of his contemporaries.

    In fact Diego Rivera was renown for being a prominent member of the Mexican Communist part. His frescos, as it happened in the renaissance in Italy - mainly with religious themes - were able to tell the story of the struggle of the class fight in the context of mexican politics and to create and to strengthen class identity. His big popularity and the fame reached by his public persona tough, conflicted with his claimed beliefs in the communist ideals that costed him the expulsion from the party in 1929. Notwithstanding the lack of formal recognition by the communist party, his figure had always been considered a milestone of the mexican and global fight for a righteous society.

    In conclusion the MoMa exposition on Diego Rivera is an excellent occasion to get acquainted with his work, but this can only be the beginning of a long journey through the work of a great artist that unfortunately, but this is also his great strength, is strongly bound to the places where the frescos are installed.

    Links:

    Website of monographic exposition of Diego Rivera
    Interesting pubblication on Diego Rivera
    Video on portable frescos

  • Art & Culture

    A Perfect Cliché, Venezia

    The inauguration of The Beautiful Clichè – Venezia exhibition by Renato D’Agostin took place in The Chinese Porcelain Company on 475 Park Ave. The context of the exhibition was rather peculiar and the pictures of the young photographer were surrounded by other pieces of furniture that were creating an interesting contrast between the simplicity of the shots and the rich textures of the deep green wallpaper and furniture of the 18th century.

    The photos exposed, as the title suggests, are shots taken in Venice but, instead of offering the usual, well known, scenery of Venice with Gondolas and the romantic bridges with which the entire world identifies the city of Venice, D’Agostin explores other points of view but still is able to leave a trace in the pictures of the Venice that we all know very well.

    Subjects of his pictures are the water, which is very much present all over the city, birds, mainly sea gulls, boats and the historical magnificent buildings of which the city is mainly composed of.

    The view offered of the different subjects is always fuzzy and unclear. For example in 01 Venezia (2010), the boat that crosses the entire frame of the picture is completely surrounded by the bright white results of an over exposition of the film. The boat draws a horizontal line and the wavelet of the water in between two boas are the only visible elements. An other skillful example is 02 Venezia (2010) where a horizontal line of people standing next to what it is seems  to be a parapet is overtopped by a curved electric cord on which birds are resting. Lines are the main theme of the photographic exposition and the photographer shows how his subjects unconsciously draw lines that can be transformed in art pieces. All the pictures are in black and white on a silver gelatin print and selenium toned.

    D’Agostin is not interested in the perfection that digital photography can offer but instead he plays with the grain of the film and of the paper becoming part and parcel of his own style. A very good example is offered by 04 Venezia (2010) where drops of water on the lens of the camera are over imposed on what it seems to be a little island on the Venice’s lido casted by fog. On top of this, the grains of the very high asa of the film add a very interesting texture that increases the fuzziness of the vision.The art exhibition will be open from December 8th till December 15th, and it really deserves to be checked to pause from the confusing shopping Christmas atmosphere that is polluting the area.

  • Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan.
    Art & Culture

    All Cattelan @ the Guggenheim Museum

     The Guggenheim Museum is hosting, from November 4th to January 22nd, the exposition Maurizio Cattelan: All, curated by Nancy Spector, Deputy Director and Chief Curator at the Guggenheim Museum since 1989. 

    The retrospective is a collection of some of Cattelan’s most significant pieces, the pieces that marked the career of the Italian artist from 1989 to 2011 and that were developed and exposed in galleries all across the world. This explain the title All. It is a retrospective of 22 years of work, which is supposed to offer a panoramic of his activity in the art world not only as an artist, but as a figure that in some ways transcends the common definitions of “artist” and that actually presents him as an activist in the art world.

    The show, which is considered to be the current highlight in the contemporary art world scene in New York, collects the pieces that gave him fame not only in the art world but also with the general public. His works, when compared to other conceptual artists, stand out, because he is able to deliver pieces of art that can be interpreted and read in many points of view, capturing, most of the time, the viewer in his narrative without expelling it completely as in the case of other surrealist artists.

    Accessibility and simplicity, but with an unexpected depth, are the keys of the longevity of his message. In pieces as La Nona Ora (1999), Him (2001) or Daddy Daddy (2008) he played with some figures as – in order – Pope Vojtyla, Hitler, and Pinocchio. Those are all figures that have a place in the collective imaginary and that carry with them specific feelings and values. Cattelan plays with them, conscious of the effects that those figures have on the spectator without distorting the historical and cultural heritage embedded within each of these icons and without making the message underneath his artistic intervention too explicit.

    The mediums of his art range from stuffed animals, wax statues, to daily objects such as BAR signs, bikes, safes, foosball tables and many others. It has been noticed many times, that the closer you go to simplicity, the easier it is to create iconic objects because they are already embedded within the common sense of people. Cattelan works on this level reinterpreting elements of daily life and making them iconic figures that represent an era.

     
    The exposition at the Guggenheim, collects the most important pieces of his artistic career and it places them in the central hall of the museum, hanging from the central rotunda and going all the way down to the bottom. The pieces that needed a wall, or the ones that needed some kind of support, have been placed on white panels that simulate walls and floors. This allowed the people who designed the exposition, to create this humongous column of art pieces that is in itself a magnificent sculpture.

    Another element that needs to be mentioned is that the entire museum, except the central area, is completely empty and it allows the spectator to enjoy the contrasting unusual emptiness of the walkable spaces of the museum with the busy vision of the central cone in which all the pieces are hung.

    The strong side of this exposition is also its weakest point. In fact, while it is quite impressive to see such a big amount of works suspended in the middle of the museum, at the same time this way of exposing the pieces completely de-contextualizes Cattelan’s work. His art pieces are strongly connected with the environment for which they have been originally developed and exposed.

    Cattelan defines himself an artist without ideas. In many interviews he claims that he starts developing his work only when he has the exposition space in mind. His highly conceptual work - on a level that he doesn’t even touch the pieces that he is working on, but he lets other people work on them for him - are in this case completely de-contextualized and placed far from the observer in a way that doesn’t originally belong to the art piece itself.

    The pieces are far away from the observer and the way they have been placed makes the art hard to be observed in its complexity and in its beauty. Some of the pieces are placed behind other ones while others are very small and almost invisible as they get caught in the confusion of the chaotic complexity created by the sculptures and the ropes that support them.

    However, it is important to mention that this retrospective has been designed by Nancy Spector with the supervision of Cattelan who designed the structure that holds all his pieces to the ceiling of the museum himself. In the end, the whole jumble can also be seen as another art piece in the style of Cattelan.

    This is certainly a very interesting way to see the Guggenheim Museum and to experience an extraordinary exposition that collects the works of an Italian artist who managed to be internationally recognized and who has declared to retire after this retrospective. The Guggenheim has also published a very interesting book on the Cattelan’s, written by the curator of the exposition. This is not the ideal condition for those who really want to appreciate the work of Cattelan in its complexity and, most of all, on the impact that his work has on society.

  • Events: Reports

    In Support of Ai.Bi

    On the 20th of October at 6pm, in the Alessi store at 130 Greene Street, there will be an event in support of the activities of Ai.Bi, an Italian NGO which recently opened an office in New York City.

    Ai.Bi (http://www.aibi-us.org/) stands for “Amici dei Bambini” which can be translated as “Friends of Children.” This organization was founded in 1983 by Marco Griffini and Irene Bertuzzi, and since then it expanded all over the Italian territory but also outside the borders of Europe, opening 33 branches in 25 countries such as Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Congo, Kenya, Sri Lanka, Cambodia and many others.
     

    Alice Camparini, CEO of Ai.Bi. inc. was reached for an interview to better explain what are the goals of the organization and to give us some insights of the upcoming event. “Ai.Bi decided to open an office in the United States for three important reasons: first of all, one of our main goals is to monitor the system on national adoption and protection of children and adolescents at risk. In the USA there are 500.000 children and adolescents outside their families living in a condition of temporary foster care. Our organization decided to try to interact with the American adoption system and to offer new opportunities to those children, putting them in contact with Italian families. Another important goal is to start a consistent project of fund raising in order to support some of the most important projects of Ai.Bi on an international level such as Kenya, Peru, Cambodia and Italy.”
     

    Alice added that representing Ai.Bi within the United Nations and to strengthen its presence within the ECOSOC (United Nations Economic and Social Council), of which it has been part for a long time, are other essential goals. The principal role of this organization is to discuss and formulate policies that are addressed in the United Nations system. In this context, Ai.Bi. advocates the rights of abandoned children.
     

    Ai.Bi.'s office in United State is quite new. It was founded approximately 3 years ago, and there is still a lot of work that needs to be done. Alice states that one of the plans for the near future of the organization is to “strengthen the executive council, but also to widen the support coming from volunteers and supporters giving the chance to those interested to collaborate with us and support the right of every children to grow in a normal family.”
     

     Ai.Bi. found a very supportive partner in Alessi, in many projects of the past and for the upcoming ones, in fact, as Alice says, “Alessi’s help has been fundamental for the realization of the event that will take place on October 20th.” Alessi offered the space and also donated some products for the Silent Auction in support of the activities of Ai.Bi. It also helped with the advertisement of the event and, one of the company's managers, Silvia Kramar, is a member of the board of Directors of the NGO.
     

    In conclusion, it is very important to support the upcoming event of the 20th. There will be the opportunity, for whoever is interested, to know something more about Ai.Bi's activities all around the world. Alice, in fact, will talk about her experience in Brazil with Ai.Bi. and will show some videos related with the activities of the Ngo. This is also a very interesting and stimulating example of partnership between an Italian Ngo and a major Italian company that work together not only for business but also to make this world a better place for everybody. Please RSVP by October 18th. For additional information: new.york@aibi.it.

  • Art & Culture

    A Precious Musical Treasure: The Red Diamond

    On February 1, at 7pm, the Red Diamond Stradivari violin played by Judith Ingolfsson entertained the audience from its first note of Schumann's Sonata N.2 in d minor for Violin and Piano, accompanied by pianist Vladimir Stoupel. The Liederkranz Foundation, located at 6 East 87th Street, hosted the first of a series of eight concerts organized by Paolo Alberghini, a well known violin dealer but also a violinist and connoisseur of the classical music venues in New York, organizer of the Stradivari Evenings, inaugurated by this event.

     
    The Stradivari Evenings, of which Alberghini is the founder and the artistic director, have three main goals which constitute the mission of the events: “The first”, he said, “is to celebrate the legacy of Stradivari here in New York and in the world; the second is to help the community with the power that the name Stradivari brings to a concert; and the third is to present a great concert with great artists in an intimate setting with an all new idea”.
     

    The “intimate setting” was a very beautiful recital hall that had the chance to host a public that almost filled the 100-seat room, made up of people of every age who contributed, buying the ticket, not only to the continuation of the series but also to the funding of some important musical institutions, such as the Children Orchestra Society. It benefited of a percentage of the ticket. “It is a foundation in Long Island”, said Alberghini, “that has been active for 40 years. It is a very well established institution and it needs funds”. This will be a constant of every event of the series.
     
    The musicians were extremely generous, entertaining the public with more than two hours of music. The program was Robert Schumann's Sonata No. 2 in D minor for Violin and Piano, Igor Stravinsky's  Divertimento for Violin and Piano, Tchaikovsky's The Fairy’s Kiss, and Dmitri Schostakovich's  Sonata for Violin and Piano Op. 134.
     
    Thanks to the small environment, it was extremely interesting for the audience to experience classical music so closely and to enjoy the exceptional sound that was coming out of the Red Diamond Stradivari played by the expert hands of Judith Ingolfsson with the masterful support of Vladimir Stoupel. It has not always been easy to master and perfectly control the sound of the 300-year-old violin and, as with every great instrument, it has a soul that needs to be pandered in order to obtain the perfect sounds. “I was having a lot of fun”, said Ingolfsson, “playing this violin. It was teaching me how to play itself”.

    Familiarly called the Strad, it turned out to be an extremely powerful instrument, not only able to give texture to all the different shapes of the masterpieces of classical music, but also an extremely important ambassador of a brilliant artisan who made the history of lutists without completely revealing the secret hidden in the “soul” of these magical instruments. There are approximately 600 Strads and each one preserves not only the story of their Italian maker, but also the history of classical music, because every musician that played them left an indelible trace in the instrument itself.
     
    The Red Diamond, at the moment, is in New York and Mr. Alberghini is taking good care of it. 
    He claims that “working with a Stradivari is also a way to get closer to my Italian heritage since my father is from Bologna and he came to America because he was a musician. He arrived on a cruise ship. He was a very good singer.  He decided to make his life in America in 1972.  Then he met my mother and decided to stay in America”.
     
    The next concert of this interesting series will take place on March 15, 2011, and the theme will be “Honoring Violin Maker Luiz Bellini” and will host Omar Chen Güey on the violin. For further information about this and other events of the series, one can visit the official web site of the Foundation.