The widely influential Italian art historian, critic, and curator Germano Celant, who coined the term Arte Povera to describe the radically economical art of Jannis Kounellis, Mario and Marisa Merz, and Giuseppe Penone, among others, has died at age 80 in Milan due to complications from the coronavirus.
His death, which was reported by various Italian news outlets, followed his hospitalization at San Raffaele hospital several weeks ago.
He began exhibiting symptoms after returning home from New York, where he had visited the Armory Show, according to the Italian publication Artibune.
The eminent curator launched his career in 1967, when he published his Arte Povera manifesto, “Notes for a Guerilla War,” in Flash Art magazine, where he championed the work of artists who made “poor art, committed to contingency, to events, to the non-historical, to the present.”
Arte Povera—largely a response to Italy’s post-war industrial culture and economy—contrasted with the bright colors and commercial sensibility of the American Pop Art movement. Celant cast his favored artists, who used unconventional materials such as plywood and rags in their work, in political terms. In the background, as Celant was writing his polemics, a recession in Italy hampered what was previously a period of sustained economic growth, and students influenced by Marx were protesting at universities.
As he helped to build the reputations of anti-establishment artists in the 1960s and ’70s, Celant climbed the ranks of the art world in an increasingly distinguished career.
In 1997, he curated the Venice Biennale, and also held roles as a curator at the Guggenheim, a contributing editor of Artforum and Interview magazines, and was the artistic director of the Prada Foundation in Milan at the time of his death. In October, he announced that he was planned a show dedicated to KAWS.
“I don’t feel like a man of power,” he once said. “I’ve always been interested in the power of art. Artists know that: that’s why they trust me.”
Celant was born in Genoa in 1940. He studied art history at the University of Genoa with the critic Eugenio Battisti, with whom he later worked at the art and design magazine Marcatrè, which was founded by a group of critics including Umberto Eco.
Celant’s exhibition, “Im Spazio,” which was mounted at Genoa’s Galleria La Bertesca in 1967, is often seen as the beginning of the Arte Povera movement. Among his many other significant exhibitions was a 1993 show at the Prada Foundation in which he reimagined “When Attitudes Become Form,” Harald Szeemann‘s influential 1969 show. Other significant exhibitions by Celant included “Italian Metamorphosis, 1943–1968,” which was staged at the Guggenheim in New York.
“The loss of Germano Celant is a catastrophe,” Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, director of the Castello di Rivoli museum in Turin, wrote in a Tweet. “One of the most serious people in the art world, of the most intelligent, profound.”
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Christo's place in art history is not without controversy – here's why – The Conversation UK
The history of art is written as if men of genius lead the rest of the world – us, the public – from an imagined position at the front of culture. Whenever another great man dies, his biography is fitted into the story of successive “great lives” and so the point is illustrated, furnished with examples of genius at the helm of progress. This is true of Christo.
Christo, who died aged 84 on May 31, is usually pictured as the quintessential genius. Most often he is pictured alone – the man with his monumental achievements. This has been the case throughout his career – as true of his most recent works as it was in the 1960s and 1970s: the solo man wrapping up nature and architecture (he also wrapped women in his earliest works).
But most of Christo’s oeuvre was created working with his wife, the artist Jeanne-Claude, who died in 2009, as well as teams of experts. In all the reporting of the highly ambitious, eye-catching and popular interventions into urban and rural landscapes, his artist-wife collaborator is subsumed under his name. It exemplifies the cliché: “Behind every great man there stands a woman.”
Christo and his wife produced a range of artistic experiments including piles of oil drums and miles of umbrellas in sculptural interventions. But their most famous artworks are impossibly large wrappers of urban monuments and rural environments. They wrapped a piece of Australian coast near Sydney in 1968-69, some islands in Miami in 1980-83, the Pont Neuf in Paris in 1985 and the Reichstag in Berlin in 1995, among other things.
Until plastic became justifiably unfashionable for environmental reasons, these artistic interventions were generally understood as aesthetically pleasing, a benign way of drawing attention to the adjacent and enveloped forms, namely the shoreline, the trees, the ancient bridge. The machismo of such large-scale work was fairly unexceptional in the context of “land art” staples at the time, such as Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty (1970).
Christo’s credentials as environmentalist lay in the fact that the work was temporary, and he and Jeanne-Claude went to lengths on their website to explain how the art is “clean”. In the 20th century, their work was interpreted as environmentally sound and ecologically engaged, but in the 21st century the continued use of vast quantities of mined and man-made resources was met with criticism.
Context is everything
I note this to exemplify just one of the changes in the art’s reception over time. Over Christo’s long career, there have been other changes in how the work has been received and framed. Artists always work in contexts – and contexts change over time. Context informs how an artwork is understood. Once, Christo and other land artists were appreciated for their embodied anti-consumerism, anti-capitalist art practices – land art must be funded but it cannot be sold.
Today, this once integral part of its raison d’etre and context is eclipsed by a contemporary art world that embraces the market and the neoliberal idea that the market provides all that society and individuals need. Christo’s anti-consumerism therefore is no longer part of his narrative. Changes in the accepted narrative are always worth pointing out.
“The past is a foreign country” is a cliché, but the idea that “they do things differently there” is often overlooked by art historians bent on furnishing a history with genius. For historians – and consequently for most members of the public – a great artwork is great because it is the embodiment of genius. This appears to be common sense, but it is worth noting that the idea of genius was defined at the birth of art history in the 18th century in reference to classical antiquity. Genius was the product of a particular location: Europe, and – notably – a particular gender: male.
Subsequently this narrow definition of genius was projected across the world and the rest of humanity was found lacking. The relationship between genius and progress is intertwined. Without genius we have no progress.
Art in a changing world
Achievements in art and science are driven by a notion of progress. Culture progresses, according to the narrative, from the primitive and unformed, the uninformed, towards enlightenment which, as this idea of progress is an Enlightenment one, is rather neat. Prior to the Modern period, there was a different understanding of progress. Progress was seen as being towards heaven and the value of human intellectual and artistic endeavour was to the glory of God.
The purpose of culture and art, its role and value in society, has changed over time. Cultures, attitudes – and even the very definition of words such as “art” – change. Yet, somehow today and since the invention of art history and the concept of aesthetics, our reception of an artwork is supposed not to change. We assume a great artwork is a great artwork forever and in all contexts, that it is universal and transcendent of time and space.
Christo’s death serves as an example of how a history of progress is written. The genius of the artist exemplifies a given notion of progress. Progress is built on bigger, better, more expensive sole-authored achievements, a notion of genius that suppresses the collaborative and the complex.
In death, the artist is polished and their achievement is made glossy by smoothing out changes over time in the reception of the art and in the reasons for making art in the first place.
An impression is formed by the traditional art historian that, always and universally, the artist’s contribution to cultural progress is fixed and unmistakable, a stable step forwards. In reality, it wasn’t like that. It never is.
Incoming Nanaimo Art Gallery executive director excited for new role – Nanaimo News Bulletin
The Nanaimo Art Gallery’s new executive director says she’s looking forward to the challenge and opportunity to come to a new place, get to know people and make an impact.
On May 29 the Nanaimo Art Gallery announced that this summer Carolyn Holmes, who spent the past four and a half years as executive director of the Two Rivers Gallery in Prince George, will be taking the helm of the NAG.
Holmes said she’s been following the NAG for years and that it has a reputation for being innovative and community-minded.
“I know that there’s a great exhibition program there and also there’s lots of ties to the local community and to the indigenous community as well, which is all important to me,” she said. “I think not every art gallery should be the same. Each art gallery needs to respond to their community and work with the community and grow with the community.”
Holmes was born in England but raised in Whitby, Ont. As a youth she made art “all the time,” leading her to pursue a degree in fine arts at Queen’s University and a masters in museum studies at the University of Toronto.
“I always knew I was going to do something with art,” she said.
When she moved to P.G. 20 years ago to serve as the gallery’s inaugural education programmer the building was still under construction. Holmes said she got to develop the gallery’s programming from scratch and build a team around her vision. She said it’s “bittersweet” to be leaving the TRG after two decades, but “it’ll be nice to have some new ideas come into the organization.”
“A lot has happened in that time, along with me having two children and growing a family, so it’s been a big part of my life, the gallery, and Prince George as well, so it will be hard to leave,” she said.
Before becoming executive director, Holmes served as the director of public programs. She said one of her proudest accomplishments is establishing the gallery’s MakerLab, an education and workshop space meant to “connect the community with creativity and not just art.”
“Sometimes people think, ‘I’m never going to be a painter or a drawer,’ or, ‘These exhibitions aren’t for me,’ and so it was a way to have everybody embrace what they might be doing creatively…” she said. “We were trying to teach skills and share ideas and also get people who were making things in their houses, kitchen tables, in their wood shops and bringing them together to share ideas and building a community.”
Holmes said moving to Nanaimo will bring her closer to her parents who live in Qualicum Beach. And while she said her familiarity with the Harbour City is limited to that of a summer tourist, Holmes is excited for her and her husband and teenage sons to “find our place” in Nanaimo.
Holmes expects the first few months of her directorship will be spent familiarizing herself with the gallery and getting a sense of what the NAG staff and board are working on, their priorities and their plans for the future.
“I know eventually the board would like to grow the gallery and that’s exciting, I think, for everyone, but I think there’s a lot of listening and learning that needs to take place,” she said. “For me, engaging with the community is my priority. I want people to recognize that Nanaimo Art Gallery is their art gallery and feel a connection to that.”
You may have seen focaccia edible art on instagram… now learn to make it at home – iNFOnews
Focaccia is a type of Italian flatbread and one of the easiest breads to make at home. This no-knead bread is made in a single bowl with a rubber spatula and requires only flour, salt, yeast, water and olive oil.
Dating back to ancient times, focaccia, which means “cooked on fire”, is considered to be the precursor to the modern day pizza. Focaccia can be made with just olive oil and salt or with hundreds of toppings ranging from sweet to savoury.
The ingredient combinations are endless – be creative.
Image Credit: Claire Sear
One of the biggest Instagram food trends of 2020 is beautiful focaccia bread art. Teri Culletto, a home baker from Martha’s Vineyard is credited with starting the focaccia art trend via her instagram account @vineyardbaker. Using raw vegetables and fresh herbs, Teri has created a series of Vincent van Gogh-inspired bread loaves she calls “Van Dough” and inspired thousands of home bakers around the world to create focaccia art.
Unleash your inner artist and enjoy creating your own delicious focaccia art at home. This is a great recipe to make with kids as they love decorating the focaccia.
The baked version of the beautiful focaccia edible art!
Image Credit: Claire Sear
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 Tbsp kosher salt
1 tsp active dry yeast
2 – 3 cups warm water
4 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing
1 ½ tsp Maldon Sea salt (Coarse sea salt can be substituted)
Suggested toppings: little sweet peppers, black olives, fresh chives, parsley, basil, capers, grape tomatoes, red onions, edible flowers, sesame seeds, and nuts. Tip: dipping herbs in lemon water can help keep them greener in the oven.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, kosher salt and yeast. Slowly add 1 1/2 cups of warm water to the flour mixture and stir. Add additional water as needed until all the flour is incorporated and a sticky dough forms. Dough should be wet.
Tip: Weather affects the amount of water and flour needed. Recipe measurements for water are general guidelines. You need to add as much water as needed to make a wet sticky dough. Do not be alarmed if you need more or less water than the recipe indicates.
Pour two tablespoons of olive oil into a medium bowl. Transfer the dough to the bowl and roll and turn the dough over so that it is coated with the olive oil. Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours or up to two days.
When you are ready to bake the focaccia, line a 9 x13 inch baking sheet with parchment paper. Brush the parchment paper with olive oil. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Tip: parchment paper just adds another level of guarantee that the focaccia won’t stick to the pan. If you don’t have parchment paper, brush the baking sheet generously with olive oil.
Using your hands, spread the dough out as much as possible to the edges of the baking sheet. If the dough is sticking you can add additional olive oil. Do not worry if dough doesn’t cover the full pan, it will once the dough has time to rise.
Place the dough in a warm place and let it rise until it has doubled in size. In the summer it may only take 30 minutes for the dough to rise. In the winter it can take over an hour. You want the dough to be room temperature and fluffy.
Preheat the oven to 410°F.
Using your palms, pat down the dough down to an even thickness of about 1 inch and then use your fingertips to dimple the entire dough. Drizzle with olive oil. Isn’t this is fun?
Unleash your inner artist and decorate your focaccia. Sprinkle with Maldon sea salt.
Place in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes and then rotate the pan back to front. If the bread is already starting to brown, turn the heat down to 375°F. Bake for an additional 10-15 minutes until the top is golden brown. Transfer the focaccia on the baking sheet to a wire rack to cool. Slide the focaccia out of the pan, cut into generous slices and serve.
Focaccia is best eaten the day it is made. If you do have leftovers, the focaccia can be frozen and then reheated. It is also excellent the next day served in soup.
Serve with a glass of B.C. rosé.
— Claire Sear is a Vancouver-based food, drink & lifestyle writer
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