15′ Talks #TheNowThroughArtLenses – .5 w/ Jessica Persson-Conway

– Below is the questions asked to Ms. Persson-Conway 

In the fifth episode of 15′ Talks, we had the pleasure to interview Jessica Persson-Conway.

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With a BSc in Business Administration & Economics and Diploma in Marketing, Jessica Persson Conway has gained extensive experience in the field of luxury marketing and brand management. Following several years in brand management, sponsorship and insight roles, Jessica decided to set up her own business, Origin Sweden, which was an online marketplace for Swedish artists and designers. She successfully launched brands that had never sold outside of Sweden and established them in the UK market. Since 2017, Jessica has been responsible for the Art Programme & Philanthropy at Rolls-Royce Motorcars, which has seen her launch a new vision under the new name Muse, the Rolls-Royce Art Programme.

  • In your opinion, why is it important for houses like Rolls Royce to support arts?

 

  • What do you think should be the role of luxury brands in this disruptive moment? Will we experience a shift towards a more responsible luxury?

 

  • You have recently launched Muse, the Rolls-Royce Art Programme. How is this new initiative supporting the art world and its artists?

 

  • What would you suggest to those who are aware of the crisis that is hitting the cultural sector and willing to help, though not knowing how?

15′ Talks #TheNowThroughArtLenses – .4 w/ Andras Szanto

– Below is the questions asked to Mr. Andras Szanto

In the fourth episode of 15′ Talks, we had the pleasure to interview Andras Szanto.

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We have the pleasure to introduce to you Andras Szanto, cultural strategy expert and consultant. He assists museums, cultural organizations, foundations, and educational institutions worldwide in all phases of the development and implementation of cultural initiatives: from conceptualization to execution to the creation of content.
He has worked with Art Basel, the Guggenheim, the MET, Audemars Piguet and Rolls-Royce Motor Cars.
  • You have written an article on ArtNet in which you say “People Need Art in Times of Crisis”. How are museums reacting to this moment of disruption?

 

  • I love the content you publish on Instagram and I wanted to reflect with you a second on the contrasts of this historic moment. You have written in a post that “no form of art can match the scale and majesty of history when it’s in full swing. It will takes years to make sense of it all”. So, what kind of arts should we expect from now on? How are artists responding to this situation?

 

  • Auction market sales have plummeted 97% since the beginning of the pandemic. Do you think the market will recover as fast as it happened in 2009?)

 

  • What would you suggest to those who are aware of the crisis that is hitting the cultural sector and willing to help, though not knowing how?

15′ Talks #TheNowThroughArtLenses – .3 w/ Silvia Adler

– Below is the English subtitles to the interview

Hi and welcome to 15’ Talks #TheNowThroughArtLenses.

Following a Degree in Cultural Heritage and Performance at Cattolica University in Milan, Silvia Adler moves to London. Extremely passionate about art, she works there for four years in the contemporary art world. After moving back to Milan, she starts collaborating – together with the Municipality of Milan – to a project named ‘MuseoCity’, aiming at a greater involvement of the inhabitants and visitors in the cultural activities of the city.

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  • As we mentioned ‘MuseoCity’, how did the project take shape in your mind and which are the future steps it will take?

First of all, thank you Giada and Federica for this invitation – which I welcomed with great enthusiasm.

Museo City is a non-profit association founded in 2016 with the aim to promote and value museums in the city of Milan and its surroundings. Together with the Municipality of Milan, in 2017 it gave rise to a three-day initiative which takes place every year during the first weekend of March. This initiative involves many museums and realities living in the city, such as artists’ atelier and archives, museums of arts and sciences, foundations and associations, among which figures also the museum dedicated to the typewriter.

The project of this ‘3days’ took shape in the mind of its founders, who are all people deeply involved in arts and culture. Among them, there’s the current President, Mariagrazia Marzocchi, who was also President of the Conservatory of Milan; Annalisa Zanni, current Director of Poldi Pezzoli; Paolo Viscontini, who was the Director of Palazzo Reale and – subsequently – of Museo Diocesano; and many others. There also are professors, art historians…we could say the alveo of our founders is made of many passionate people who wanted to do something for the city. It is from this aim, and from the ‘guidelines’ set by Piano City and Book City, that took shape the idea of Museo City, a network between these many realities. Within this project, this manifestation (ndr the ‘3days’ initiative) was ideated and every year we curate various sections of this great palinsesto and provide the whole edition with a typical fil rouge.

In 2020, this manifestation was suspended and re-scheduled – and I am glad to announce that the new dates are July 30 – August 1. The reason of this choice lies in our intention to gift the community and citizenship with an occasion to let themselves be curious and discover new realities and activities which could be a potential alternative to the typical summer activities. The choice also responds to an invitation of promoting proximity tourism, given the problems related to the health emergency – we indeed think this could be a way to re-launch the city as a touristic destination.

As for our next steps: the manifestation at the end of July, the involvement of many museums and different realities – in this regard, we actually have new subscriptions and this is something which initially surprised us though of course there’s the will to act, to restart and do something useful. Indeed, a museum should not be a place for conservation but, as I always say, rather a place for entertainment – there’s always this side which must be taken into consideration and for this reason we should always try to create a community going beyond the local and territorial boundaries. For instance, we will launch an app for the citizens which will allow them to discover not only museums, but also historical buildings from the XIX hundreds and contemporary murales made by street artists, which will also benefit from the techniques of augmented reality. It will really be a diffuse, open-air museum.

  • Do you think Italy and Milan are moving in the right direction with regard to the management of cultural institutions and, in your opinion, which important decisions should be taken in light of this Covid19 situation?

I think that everyone is working well and some first results have been seen since March and April. Of course I can’t help but looking at the situation of museums, with which I collaborate and work daily. The network was particularly strengthened and reinforced. There have been many collaborations and new initiatives have been launched as 2 minutes pills on Instagram or directs or distance learning activities with children by providing materials to be downloaded on computers and printed to give children something to play with. In this period I think we have seen institutions that have usually been defined as traditional and static move towards its public and modernize themselves in their approach. I consider very important local communities and not only international presences, brought by international tourism but it’s important to involve again the people that live in the urban pattern and that live close to the building in which an art collection is present. For this reason the idea is to focus on both the digital side and on the traditional visits, because obviously the relationship with the masterpiece is an uni un and cannot overlook from the physical contact and from this visual appreciation of the work of Art itself. We need to to be careful though in order to keep up with the times. For example we have decided to launch a podcast during the pandemic, so at the beginning of April and then for the whole month of May we have carried out the project “Pausa caffè- Museo City”, during which we had 21 interviews with city museums and not only, we listened many interesting stories, full of curiosities, anecdotes, some even personal, like the one about the difficulties found in moving the Napoleon’s cloak from the Renaissance Museum behind the fashion district or we discovered that feathers are kept inside fridges in Mudec storages. Also we talked about the obstacles found in organizing an exhibition of the first experience inside a museum of someone that then managed to become the director of an important cultural institution. We then had real life testimonials and we managed, in my opinion to make museums a bit closer to people in a funny way.

  • Thank you, really interesting! Asking quite a challenging and tricky question, what do you think, especially now, about an expression often referred to art – ‘you can’t eat with culture’?

Okay, now this is one complex and not so polite question but I can understand that it can be important to talk about this point. As you surely know, institutions like museums that can afford to survive thanks to their mere incomes and financings (like tickets and services offered by the museum itself) are extremely rare; it’s really just a few that have their accounts squared. There are some virtuous excellences, but the majority of these realities survives also with the support of public funds or private funds (such as memberships or patronages) – though I must admit that, in light of my English experience, this latter system is not really vastly used, it’s not really a trend here in Italy. I think there still is some difficulty in understanding why it is important to support the culture of our country. On the other hand, I would say that it is possible to eat with culture – actually, in terms of culture we do have some inesauribile and extremely rich sources with which so many things could be done…just to provide you with an example, with our Podcast we exceeded 5,000 views – and this without any sponsorships but my merely posting the episodes on Facebook and similar platforms.

– we had some trouble with the signal and we lost you at some point. You were saying you had that many views without any need for sponsorship

Exactly. And this means that the audience is interested, extremely interested. Above all during the pandemic, especially in the first months, how did we manage to survive to those interminable and long days locked up in our houses? Thanks to culture and art. Thanks to the cinema, literature. This being said, I must assert that we can eat with culture, and that this needs to be looked at from another perspective: we feed ourselves with culture, art, beauty. I think we should always remember Dostoyevsky’s words when he said: “Beaty will save the world”. However, I also think that a small help is needed, both from the outside and from the inside – by means of a good management of the resources available, a greater openness of the administrative and management bodies of the realities involved. In this view, I believe in the future it will be possible to eat with culture, as we can see by looking at the examples set by the great international museums.

  • What would you suggest to those who are aware of the crisis that is hitting the cultural sector and willing to help, though not knowing how?

First of all, a very trivial thing: the culturali sector needs funds, it has a true, terrible, tremendous need of support in order to breath and be able to realize and activate new projects. We also need new competences because for example a museum of a publishing house, since we still talk about cultural sector, cannot live only of thoughts or with art historians and curators. Inside the different institutions there is need of qualified personnel that can work in many disciplines. For example I take care not only of the program of Museo City but also of fundraising both in the private sector with individuals and companies, hence corporate fundraising and with bank foundations and similar. In this situation economic competences are necessary in order to create budgets, make forecasts etc

Secondly, we need ideas, we need people that want to do but that keep  their feet on the ground because we still need to make ends meet, as in everything, even in our small, home economy. I would say that we need to get involved, believe in our ideas and resist, resist, resist because resilience is always important. We live in a very complex world and every day we have to deal with public administration and many realities different for types, dimensions, histories etc it’s not always easy to deal with different necessities and we need to be empathetic, have the whole picture of system we work in, museums in this case and try to have a certain elastic mentality and openness towards the thoughts of others. With this regard, I would like to mention the case of Muse, which is Trento’s museum of science. We have interviews it’s director,  Michele Lanzinger, during our podcast and he is also member of ICOM, international council of museums, one of the most important body in our sector. During the years he managed to transform the museum in a really dynamic and international reality that works a lot with local communities and has a deep relationship with the space around: even the structure of the museum, projected and realized by Renzo Piano, dialogue with the surrounding mountains. But, the true work he managed to do was to make the personnel grow from about 25 people to 250, that is why I think we should never abandon our dream but I think we should believe in them firmly and that is what we are trying to do with Museo City, by trying to include more and more realities in the event and the idea is to bring our mission to other Italian cities and replicate the initiative.

Thank you very much, thank you very much for accepting our invitation and, above all, for this extremely pleasant and inspirational time. Thank you also to all those following us. See you next time!

 

 

15′ Talks #TheNowThroughArtLenses – .2 w/ Wilson Hermanto

– Below is the questions asked to Mr. Hermanto

In the second episode of 15′ Talks, we had the pleasure to interview Wilson Hermanto.

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Principal Guest Conductor of Cameristi della Scala, Wilson Hermanto returns to collaborate with the Bocconi Students Arts Society after a first sit-down interview published in 2018, followed by his participation as the guest speaker at an event held in Autumn 2019. His work as an international orchestra conductor has brought him to places such as Mariinsky Theatre, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestre philharmonique de Radio France, Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra and many more. Born and raised in Indonesia, educated in the USA and Europe, Mr. Hermanto currently lives in Switzerland.

  • Since the very first time we met, the importance of the humanistic element in music and art was always part of our conversations. What would you say Covid19 has changed and is changing?

 

  • In these weeks, you participated in a video conference about being an International Artist. What really strikes us all is the building and the creation of barrers, physical barrers, between states. As of now, travelling is very difficult and it will for sure have some impact also in our conception of an open world and, subsequently, on our alleged international carrers. What’s your take on that?

 

  •  All of this having been said, what role music and concerts have played in these months and will have in our ‘re-birth’ from the ashes of this truly extraordinary period? 

 

  • What would you suggest to those who are aware of the crisis that is hitting the cultural sector and willing to help, though not knowing how?

15′ Talks #TheNowThroughArtLenses – .1 w/ Pasquale Leccese

– Below is the English subtitles to the interview

Today we have the pleasure to have with us Pasquale Leccese, gallerist, collector and internationally renowned journalist. Pasquale is back with us from Bocconi Students Arts Society after almost two years since the event hosted in Bocconi University in which the “Behind the scenes of the art market” was discussed. As an expert of the sector, Pasquale told us about his own art gallery “Le Case d’Arte”, founded in 1986 and about how the exhibition activity started betting on young international and conceptual artists, to then move to photography.

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  • For sure the situation we are experiencing because of Covid is different from what the great majority of us has ever experienced – in your opinion, what are the differences and/or analogies we can spot in comparison to other major events of the recent past?

For sure this experience surprised us for the speed at which it spread and hit indistinctly many aspects of the social and human life. I think you are referring to episodes which I firsthand experienced, having a disrupting effect like the one we are seeing now except not this strong. I remember I was in New York on 09/11, as the activities of art galleries there start in September while in Italy they usually start in October – so, as a lot of merchants, I used to go there in August/beginning of September to see what’s new on the scene. That is why I found myself there on 09/11, living what then became a very strong moment lived firsthand. Because of this, I can somehow give some contribution in the understanding of the emotional charge of this moment. Since 09/11, we all understood something was happening, both for the very strong impact on a society that seemed to be unvulnerable and for the number of deaths. New York was thought to be the symbol of a unique society and life-style – this act was not only a war act but also one with a very important mediatic impact, and many of us started questioning themselves about the future after this event. This is something we can see also now.

 

  • In your vision, how, when and to what extent the phenomenon we are currently experiencing will influence the art object and the art medium?

It’s too soon to say it because even if I have done this analogy with 09/11, and I remember that immediately after that many people as a series of characters, seers or intellectuals started to predict a future. If we read carefully the present and the history that preceded some moments such as the 9/11, we notice that art had predicted a similar phenomenon. So, there already are some assumptions on this pandemic too that bring us to understand that the point is not the propagation of the virus itself, nor the two planes thrown against the two twin towers, but something at a previous moment, when the signs of what could have happened were guessed by those that are – in my opinion – the true shaman of this society, that is the artists.

 

  • Talking about predictions, you actually had already started to explore the potential link between art and social medias with the project ‘My New Office’. What could you tell us about the new project you just started during this quarantine period, together with Giulia Carrà and Sascha Brosamer ‘Casa Chiusa’?

 This project originates from three friends who, because of the lockdown, found themselves to dialogue as we are doing now. The effect is due to the moment we are living, to the fact that – at a certain point – we all became forced to obey to a power that, in order to safeguard us, decided that we all had to stay in our houses for three months. This obligation lead on one side to our own protection, on the other side to an idea of reclusion. This reclusion, not voluntary, brought to a very particular consequence: we all discovered we had a house. Having a house was almost, especially for the Western and European world, given for granted. We sort of used it as a dormitory. We lived with our families until we could and then we left, using these houses in a certain way. These three months made us understand how important it is, also architectonically, to live the space. We started living them by cooking, reorganising the library or archive, but it was always something done in our domestic environment. The domestic environment is what lead these three characters to understand the importance of living a place. The movies we watched during quarantine were movies we didn’t get to watch at the cinema when they came out or movies we decided to watch again, and one of this movies is ‘Rear Window’ by Hitchcock, which is about the story of a character, portrayed by James Stewart, who is on his wheelchair, not able to move and he lives in a house having windows which, as it usually happens, look into other windows and houses. With his camera, with an attitude which is a mix between that of a spy and that of a voyeur, he watches at what happens in these other houses. Obviously, as in all the movies by Hitchcock, there is a tragic moment and he also witnesses a manslaughter. But the thing here is to watch through a window and spy what someone else does. ‘Casa Chiusa’ is about this. We gave our guests the opportunity, every Monday, to open a keyhole for us and let us watch through.

 

  • Thank you Pasquale. To sum up we wanted to ask you what would you suggest to those who are aware of the crisis that is hitting the cultural sector and willing to help, though not knowing how?

First of all, I would like that the use of the word “pandemic” and “virus” is not only confined to what is happening today or to the dramatic circumstances that see us as witnesses of what is happening. Because we work with art, artists and future I would like that our attention could move to another kind of pandemic which is the one Italo Calvino highlighted in ‘Six Memos for the Next Millennium’: the pandemic has already happened with the advent of media and advertising. We are permeated by virus which confuse us and block every kind of mental and psychological activity. We should start from this, not only from a viral, medical or pathological pandemic related to a flu or to a pneumonia but also from the fact that the viral is in our intellectual abilities which are increasingly losing their independence and potentiality.

Italo Calvino proposed as an antidote to take back literature, to read and to be able to understand through history and literature what we truly are. I think that art, together with literature, could give us a meaning. For example, I have recently received the last number of Art Forum, which is a really important magazine for the insiders that was marked by a difficult period and today managed to reset its own typical reader by creating an Art Forum less promotional and more culturally engaged with a more philosophical and artistic aim. We should finally gather all media in order to be able to eradicate the pandemic of the social media otherwise we will always be slave of a hidden power. This last Art Forum contains a beautiful article by Paul Preciado, a Spanish philosopher that highlights the risks and manipulations of power, from Foucault to the present days, enabled by these periods that are natural. We belong to nature, we can’t be excluded from diseases or from the relationships we have with nature.

We need to realise that we have tried to manipulate, for our arrogance, natural processes. We need to change our life habits and respect nature by going back to be part of it and not its ruler.

 

Thank you very much Pasquale for accepting our invitation, for staying with us, above all for the reflections you shared with us, and thanks also to all those following us. See you next time!

MEET THE ARTIST / ROBERTO MARIA LINO

Il lockdown continua, l’assenza prolungata di socialità comincia a sortire effetti negativi. Ci manca ritrovarci, vederci, scoprire assieme nuove forme di arte. Ci manca, soprattutto, passeggiare nelle gallerie, fra le foto, negli atri dei musei immensi e pieni di luce. Ci manca, insomma, fare nuove scoperte e godere del bello del superfluo.

Non smettiamo però mai di navigare e di esplorare. Vi proponiamo oggi un’intervista realizzata, ovviamente a distanza, a Roberto Maria Lino, giovane pittore partenopeo che, anche se in isolamento come tutti, è riuscito ugualmente a trasmetterci con forza il suo messaggio e la sua visione. Potete scoprire parte delle sue opere su robertomarialino.com e, nella speranza che ciò possa accadere presto, vedere le sue tele alle Ulisse Gallery – Contemporary Art di Roma. Buona lettura e buon…viaggio.

G: Ho già fatto le mie indagini su di te e ho visto il tuo sito. Complimenti, è fatto benissimo. Parlami un po’ di te a ruota libera. I tuoi studi, la tua arte.

R: Sono ancora uno studente. Studio all’Accademia delle Belle Arti di Roma e sto concludendo il secondo anno di biennio, l’ultimo. Gli studi precedenti all’Accademia non sono stati artistici, ma ho fatto il liceo classico e prima ancora il Grenoble a Napoli. Diciamo che cerco sempre di unire questi tre mondi: Napoli, Caserta e poi Roma. Questi cambi a volte sono stati un po’ traumatici e per questo capita che nelle tele appaia il Vesuvio o qualche scritta in francese. Tutto quello che faccio artisticamente parlando è fondere passato a presente. Cerco di mettere molto di me stesso, ma non troppo, in modo che lo spettatore possa sempre immedesimarsi e rispecchiarsi. O, almeno, mi augura che accada.

G: Ad oggi sei ancora contento di aver fatto il Classico?

R: Sì con il senno di poi devo dire di esserlo. Anche se all’epoca avevo un po’ rinfacciato i miei di non avermi supportato per una scelta più indirizzata al mondo dell’arte. Mi è servito per poi veramente poter esplodere in Accademia. La permanenza a Roma per me è stata fondamentale.

G: Ho letto che ti sei laureato in “Pittura 1”. Ti sei concentrato anche su altre discipline in Accademia?

R: Diciamo che è stato un percorso a tutto tondo. Pittura 1 è stato il corso principale, ma ho seguito anche fotografia, performance, video art, che mi sono piaciuti moltissimo. L’anno scorso ho creato una performance intitolata Del Cuore. Ho ripreso alla lettera e in modo quasi ossessivo alcuni detti sul cuore. Ad esempio, per “cuore di pietra” ho preso un cuore di maiale e l’ho messo in un calco di gesso. La performance consisteva nello scalpellare il cuore fino a liberarlo completamente dal suo involucro. Gran parte della mia produzione artistica ha un carattere quasi familiare ed è molto legata al rapporto padre-figlio. Mio padre è un cardiochirurgo e tutto è iniziato quando a quattro anni mi trovavo con lui in sala operatoria.

 

G: Tuo padre avrebbe voluto che seguissi le sue orme?

R: Un po’ di aspettativa da parte della famiglia c’era e io spesso per ridere dico di essere un medico mancato. Anche se alla fine non lo sono diventato. Probabilmente per buona pace dei pazienti (ride). È uno dei motivi per cui la mia produzione è così legata al colore rosso, anche se ci tengo sempre a sottolineare come non sia esclusivamente il colore del sangue, ma uno dei colori con più dicotomie e dualità in assoluto. Nel Medioevo era sia il colore delle spose che quello delle prostitute. È il rosso delle pellicine che mi mangio ma anche quello della Sirenetta di cui sono un grande fan. Ora però devo dire che mio padre è il mio sostenitore numero uno, ha mille foto dei miei quadri sul telefono, le fa vedere a tutti e non lascia mai un po’ di mistero.

G: A proposito di quadri, ho visto due serie principali. R.ivolto e Registro operatorio, l’altra aRteria bistuRi ventRicolo atRio. Sempre quindi a tema rosso, padre, chirurgia. Bellissimi quelli con i diari operatori di tuo padre. Mi hanno incuriosito gli autoritratti: sul viso sembra esserci un cuore. È un cuore?

R: Cerco sempre di non caratterizzare troppo i miei ritratti, tranne a volte per un evidente ciuffo. Spesso li fondo con questi cuori, che hanno un significato fortemente simbolico. A volte il cuore è distante dalla figura, a volte sull’occhio, a volte collegato un filo. Ma nella mia testa è una storia tutta collegata che cerco di esprimere nel modo più naturale possibile. Cerco di rappresentare mondi diversi, vicini, lontani, fondere tutto assieme. L’Accademia mi ha anche dato solide basi di simbologia e questo mi permette di giocare con tanti archetipi diversi.

G: Ero curioso di chiederti, chi sono le donne che vengono rappresentate in aRteria bistuRi ventRicolo atRio?

R: Sei una delle prime persone che nota subito che sono donne. Lo scopo infatti è che non si comprenda in modo immediato, ma lasciare l’interpretazione libera. Comunque, è una mia cara amica che dal primo anno di Accademia posa per me. Per me sono un po’ degli androgini, è inutile definirne la sessualità. Quello che voglio raccontare non ha a che fare con uomo o donna. Molti pensavano che la presenza del rosso e di queste donne richiamasse al tema della violenza femminile. Sono contento quando gli spettatori intravedono dei significati ma sinceramente preferisco sempre lasciare la massima libertà.

G: Ho anche qualche domanda un po’ meno impegnativa. Sei giovane, pittore e italiano. Pensi a un futuro di crescita anche nel nostro Paese o stai guardando più all’estero?

R: Dico la verità, è una cosa che vivo molto giorno per giorno. Al momento anche loro sono in quarantena e con loro intendo le mie tele che sono in galleria a Roma. Mi ritengo fortunato perché, ancora studente, ho già esposto. Non escludo assolutamente l’estero perché non sarebbe intelligente farlo e anzi mi auguro di non doverlo mai escludere. La nostra generazione è cresciuta senza frontiere, in un’Europa libera, quindi voglio poter spaziare, anche se per il momento non mi lamento per nulla dell’Italia. Certo, l’Italia non è Londra o altre città molto forti per gli artisti più giovani, ma in qualche modo ci si può sempre fare strada.

 

G: Ultime domande. Ho visto il tuo profilo Instagram. Io da un po’ di tempo ho preso la difficile scelta di cancellare il mio. Instagram è ormai fondamentale per la comunicazione in qualsiasi settore. Hai un profilo fatto benissimo e vorrei chiederti come lo usi per comunicare la tua visione. Quanto è importante?

R: Mi diverto anche su Twitter (ride), ma è vero, quello più di impatto è Instagram. Tendo sempre a specificare che per me, pur essendo diventata una piattaforma molto utile in tutti gli ambiti lavorativi, è un gioco, non la vita vera. Sono il primo a mettermi in posa o a postare una mia tela, ma è un gioco. Uno si può stufare, riprenderlo, ritoglierlo. Non bisogna fondere vita reale e vita social, perché con i social si cerca sempre di creare postare una vita perfetta che in realtà non esiste. Diciamo che Instagram è la mia mood- board, mi diverto con i colori, con i miei quadri, a montare video.

G: Progetti per il futuro?

R: Sono stati tutti un po’ bloccati dalla pandemia, ma vorrei rafforzare i rapporti con la galleria con cui lavoro. Al momento mi sto dedicando a una nuova serie, sutuRa. È nata da alcuni vecchi camici operatori di mio padre che ho trovato in un armadio; usando ago e filo di mia madre li cucio sulla tela assieme a mie vecchie magliette. Una serie intrisa di amore e dolore, tutta familiare. L’anno prossimo tesi e poi laurea. Questi sono i due grandi step, ma sto già cercando di creare una rete più fitta di contatti. Non ti svelo troppo per scaramanzia. Non si sa mai.

Giuseppe Bongiovanni

Bocconi Students Arts Society

H O P P E R / Modern Life’s Solitude

Absence of noise, isolation, solitude: no other American artist has more masterfully dissected the monotony and the alienating nature of modern life than Edward Hopper.

Although the critically acclaimed painter was modest and did not speak much about his work, it does not just reveal a master of great talent, but it also suggests a conscious and rather articulated social critique continually imposed by Hopper throughout his five-decades-long career.

His work demonstrates that realism is not merely a literal or photographic copying of what we see, but an interpretive rendering. When interviewed for the Reality Magazine in 1953, Hopper stated that “great art is the outward expression of an inner life in the artist, and this inner life will result in his personal vision of the world.“

Born in 1882, in New York, the renowned artist came to prominence in the 1920s as a student of Robert Henri, leader of the Ashcan School. Throughout the years to follow, he witnessed an increasing shift of the American society, from the Great Depression to the post-war affluence of the 1950s. By focusing on the everyday themes mostly found in the urban environment, Hopper focused on various psychological effects caused by the modernization process.

By portraying figures in a slightly blurred manner, juxtaposing them against stark geometric forms, and illuminating them in a specific way, the artist achieved emblematic, mysterious and rather cinematic atmosphere, so it is no wonder that majority of his paintings are perceived as Noir film snapshots in color. The predominant feelings of isolation and loneliness have opened a wide debate on Hopper’s enigmatic vision, whose authentic imagery undoubtedly changed the course of American painting and set the foundation for the upcoming generation of Pop art and New Realist painters of the 1960s and 1970s.

Nighthawks

This intimate and insightful approach is the most evident in his acclaimed Nighthawks painting, an iconic work which has helped define the Modernist movement.

Created in 1942, Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks is considered the incarnation of existential art, capturing the alienation and loneliness symptomatic of modern urban life. While Hopper did not intend to evoke a particular emotional state with his Nighthawks painting, the artist admitted that “Unconsciously, probably, I was painting the loneliness of a large city”. A part of the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago since only a few months after its completion, Nighthawks remains the most requested and sought after painting in their collection and one of the most recognizable paintings of the 20th-century American art.

The Origins

A stubborn realist throughout the development of a range of abstract movements, Edward Hopper‘s paintings are clean, smooth and almost too real. Consistently restrained and subtly suggestive, his paintings invite the viewer to contemplate the narrative. Depicting individuals who were usually isolated and disconnected from their environments, Hopper focused on the solitude of modern life. Suggesting much about his emotional experience as well as the psychological inner lives of his subjects, Edward Hopper led the way toward Abstract Expressionism.

According to the journal kept by Hopper’s wife Josephine, the Nighthawks painting was completed on January 21st, 1942 in New York, within weeks following the bombing of Pearl Harbour. For that reason, the work is often seen as an expression of wartime alienation. In this turbulent times in history when everyone was paranoid about another attack and New York held blackout drills on an ongoing basis as a way to practice hiding the city in darkness in case another aerial assault ever came, Hopper’s studio lights stayed on.

Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks painting depicts four characters sitting in a sparsely furnished diner at night – a woman and three men. A single light source illuminates the diner interior and spills outward toward the exterior of an empty street where the world seems to have shut down. Placed in ambiguous relationships, none of the four figures in this picture interact with one another. With characters appearing disconnected from each other and the viewer, the Nighthawks painting suggests a chilling revelation that each of us is completely alone in the world.

With its simple setting, dramatic lighting and ordinary stillness, the painting makes it easy for the viewer to place him or herself into the scene, on the city streets. The main character of the work seems to be the diner itself, with strong diagonal lines accentuated by the counter and the stools. However, with no doors to enter, the viewer is shut out from the scene by a seamless wedge of glass, allowing the viewer to invade the diner’s private world and his Nighthawks from the street by way of sight only.

As in a classic film noir manner, in Nighthawks Edward Hopper sets the scene for action that doesn’t seem to have taken place yet. Characterized by an open-ended narrative, this painting embodies the artist’s interest in the themes of alienation, melancholyvoyeurism and ambiguous relationships.

Compositions and Light

In the paintings by Edward Hopper, buildings are often situated at angles to suggest that his subjects are both in front and behind windows. Presenting a separation between the inside and the outside, glasses in the windows seem to be non-existent, inviting the voyeuristic look and suggesting that interiors can be penetrated by gaze. This device is also evident in the Nighthawks painting, where the large window creates an implicit barrier between the viewer and subjects. The angle at which the diner is set onto the corner allows Hopper to show the people in a mix of frontal and profile views.

Hopper was obsessed with light and the way it fell on houses and people through windows and the colors it made. Yellowish fluorescent light is a substitute for sun in the Nighthawks, emphasizing the artist’s understanding of the expressive possibilities of light playing on simplified shapes. The light flooding the diner, the only one illuminating the painting, spills into the night through both windows onto both sides of the street corners. The light causes some of the surfaces within the diner to be reflective, which would not be visible in daylight.

The sign above the cafe advertising cigars for $5 and the cash register seen in one of the windows outside suggest a kind of everyday American experience. The Nighthawks scene is silent and serene, further highlighting the intense feeling of isolation.

“fine as Homer”

A few short months after Hopper put on the final touches, Daniel Catton Rich, director of the Art Institute of Chicago, declared that the work was as “fine as Homer”, referencing the 19th-century American landscape painter. He purchased the Nighthawks painting for the Art Institute for $3000 (around $43,200 today), where it remains still.

Hopper said that the painting “was suggested by a restaurant on Greenwich Avenue where two streets meet,” additionally noting that he “simplified the scene a great deal and made the restaurant bigger.” The public has been trying to locate this particular diner in New York for decades, but after an extensive search, it is concluded that it was never a real place. Many people view it as an apt amalgamation of the ordinary and often overlooked sites that make up a modern city such as New York and so many others.

With its carefully constructed composition, lack of narrative and flat, abstracting planes of color, the canvas has a timeless, universal quality that transcends its particular local, making it an object onto which one can project one’s own reality. Indeed, Hopper’s Nighthawks could be seated anywhere. It is in this inherent universality, that the power of the painting resides.

An important piece of American Realism, the painting also has an ability to evoke a sense of nostalgia for an America of a time gone by. However, Nighthawks by Edward Hopper remains relevant even today as a subtle critique of the modern world, the world in which we all live, where an overwhelming sense of loneliness, and a deep desire, but ultimate inability, to connect with those around us prevails.

However much Hopper anguished over the displacement of nature, he never abandoned the city because, in addition to the compassion he felt for those who lived there, he reliably found in the city one remaning natural element – sunlight. With it, nothing was irredeemable.

By Katarina Mirkovic.

B O T T I C E L L I / “Primavera”

One of the most powerful painters of the lyric current was the Florentine Sandro (Alessandro) di Mariano Filipepi (1445-1510), called Botticelli, a nickname meaning “little barrel” that was first applied to his brother. 

Botticelli may have been trained by a goldsmith, but he transferred to the shop of Filippo Lippi, presumably when the latter was still at work on the choir of Prato Chatedral; possibly Botticelli went with Lippi to Spoleto. In the early seventies, he may also have been associated with the Verrocchio shop, as we have seen. Sandro was in Pisa in 1475 to make a fresco for the Cathedral (lost), and in 1478 he painted effigies of the Pazzi conspirators in Florence (destroyed), an assignment similar to one that Castagno had some years before. 

The sketch of Botticelli’s life gives very little direct evidence for a chronology of his work, and any pattern of stylistic evolution among his paintings must be largely based on secondary sources and guesswork. His two most famous paintings, among the most renowned of the entire Renaissance, are both undated and undatable on documentary grounds. We do know from contemporary sources that he was very highly regarded at the height of his activity and was patronised by Lorenzo de Medici and by the other important branch of the Medici family.

Botticelli exposes a contradiction between the spatial thrusts he devises, including a powerful wedge into depth relatively free of figures in the middle, and the silhouetting to individual images, which serves to accentuate the surface. This flattering of rims, only implicitly found in the “Adoration”, becomes a salient feature of the Primavera, which, with the “Birth of Venus”, is Botticelli’s most admired work.

The two pictures, both painted in tempera, do not belong to the same program and appear not to have been painted at the same time, despite certain common features.They are part of a small but significant group of pairings by Botticelli depicting classical mythological subjects. The “Primavera”, unanimously considered the earlier of the two, is composed freely, without a strict symmetrical balance.

The central figure is framed by an arch composed of trees and leaves with a bower of laurel that creates a dark tonality behind her. Above, a blindfolded cupid aims an arrow at one of the three thinly clad Graces. The figures seem to float gracefully on the surface without a formalised harmony. The painting is almost oppressively dominated by the presence of the actors, who are very close to the spectator’s space despite the wealth of spatially unintegrated landscape elements.

The ubiquitous flowers on the ground are emblems of the woman standing next to the draped Venus, who looks out of the picture almost arrogantly, her person overshadowed by the blossoms that she distributes from a vast supply. She is Flora or Primavera from whom the painting has obtained its name.

Beside her is Zephyr and perhaps Flora in another guise, Mercury on the extreme left completes the cast of characters. But if the identifications are clearly established, the meaning of the “Primavera” has been the subject of countless, often conflicting, interpretations and remain something of a riddle.

The overall effect of the painting, with its flat collars and silhouetted forms, is that of a tapestry of exceptional decorative power. The figure style falls decisively within a lyric approach. Flora, a tall, elongated image in a non-gravitational stance, is close to the picture plane, and her richly embroidered dress challenges the implication of her physical presence. 

Modeling as a means to create volumetric form is kept to a minimum. Instead, the fires are created mainly by the edges of the form and by color. The “Primavera” was presumably painted in the late 1470s or in the early 1480d, immediately before Botticelli went to Rome, but a date following his return is also possible. Renaissance artists like Botticelli often had several stylistic modes that they used at the same time, depending upon the category of subject matter, the destination of the work, or the requirements of the patron. 

The allegorical meaning of the painting is better understood only when taking the scene as a whole.  The allusions to Spring and the month of May, the scene of a suitor’s pursuit, the Three Graces – all of these point to the idea of a springtime marriage.  The setting in an orange grove is also noteworthy, since the Medici had adopted the orange tree as its family symbol.  The painting would have been placed in Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco’s bedroom and his wife would have seen it for the first time after their wedding, so the idea of Cupid targeting the pure Three Graces with his arrow takes on a particular meaning in light of conjugal love.

In any case, the painting is a testament to humanist interests in classical subject in the Renaissance, as well as the courtly desire for lavish themes and graceful figures.

 

By Katarina Mirkovic.

R A P H A E L / ” The School of Athens”

With Raffaello Sanzio (1483-1520), known in English simply as Raphael, we are dealing with the model third generation monumental painter. 

Despite his short life of only thirty-seven years, he left a large body of works from almost every year of his career, so that his total contribution and far-reaching influence can be efficiently gauged.

Born in Urbino, where his father had been painter and head butler for the court, Raphael was an orphan at age eleven but must have had training as a painter already before that age, since he was commissioned in 1500 for an altar-piece dedicated to St. Nicholas of Tolentino for the church in Città Castello. Only fragments of the work, which was finished in 1501, survive (Capodimonte Museum, Naples), but drawings have also come down giving us unshift into his earliest efforts as a draftsman.

After spending several years in Florence fulfilling his stylistic implications, Raphael arrived in Rome in year 1508. Here he was commissioned by Pope Julius II to redecorate his suit of apartments. The Stanza della segnatura (“Room of the Signatura”) was the first to be decorated by Raphael’s frescoes: it was the study housing the library of Julius II, in which the Signatura of Grace tribunal was originally located. In addition to the ceiling with biblical and classical subjects and personifications, the side walls contain the famous frescos, the Disputa, the School of Athens, Parnassus, and the less well known “Gregory IX Approves the Decretals” as well as grisaille decoration all’antica.
Raphael has united three basic ingredients of his early maturity: (1) the native Umbrian qualities derived from Perugino especially but also from Signorelli and Pinturicchio and that recall the more distant Piero della Francesca; (2) the impact of what he saw and absorbed in Florence; and (3) the massive injection of impulses for his figural vocabulary that he found in Rome, ancient and modern. 

The “School of Athens”, done in 1510 and 1511, marks the high point in Raphael’s development and in the evolution of narrative painting in the Renaissance. The clarity of the expression, the rigorous composition, the satisfying architectural spaces, the descriptive, dignified color, and particularly the integrity of the individual figures as they relate to each other and to the space they occupy belong to the tradition first stated by Masaccio in the Brancacci Chapel.

The main action is concentrated in a zone atop four high marble steps, where the figures are arranged horizontally with a gradually increasing stress given to Plato and Aristotele, isolated by a distant arch on the central axis, much as Christ is separated from the Apostles in Leonardo’s Last Supper. Below, individual personalities and groups are carefully orchestrated to add excitement, interest, and diversity to the overall composition. A classical structure is archaeologically reconstructed with coffered marble vaults, a great open dome, and marble reliefs and statues.

The figures are conceived in various poses: running, standing, bending, sitting, and reclining; their expressions are restrained as they concentrate on activities of teaching or explicating, studying or meditating. As part of the carefully conceived program (though apparently not Raphael’s invention), the School of Athens stands for Philosophy and is placed in conjunction with three others that represent Theology, Poetry and Law. 

The cool crisp color, the clear sharp air, and the earthbound emphasis of the composition are elements consistent with the theme of the fresco. 

Raphael as effectively as any painter of the Renaissance, was able to integrate meaning and form. And if Raphael’s mode, like Michelangelo’s, was basically figural, he located his actors more specifically within an environment, which he manipulated with facility. 

Of all the painters of the third generation, Raphael is perhaps the most satisfying because of the rationality of his compositions and the inevitability of his figures. He was a consumate draftsman on paper and in his painting, giving a surety of form. His art became the backbone of academic instruction for centuries; nord did his reputation ever suffer the ups and downs of Michelangelo’s.

 

By Katarina Mirkovic.

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