'the story of (my) exhibitions': germano celant on his curatorial path and arte povera

'the story of (my) exhibitions': germano celant on his curatorial path and arte povera

one year after the passing of italian art historian, critic and curator germano celant, silvana editoriale in collaboration with studio celant has published one of his last works: ‘the story of (my) exhibitions’. the new book, which celant had been working on for years, is published posthumously and focuses on 34 exhibitions conceived and curated by him between 1967 and 2018. the 562-page volume traces the exhibiting logic characterizing celant’s work, starting with the exhibition ‘im spazio’ in 1967, when he first coined the term ‘arte povera’, and ending with ‘post zang tumb tuuum: art life politics. italia 1918-1943’, which took place at fondazione prada in 2018.

 

 

germano celant (september 11, 1940 – april 29, 2020) was an italian art historian, critic and curator who coined the term ‘arte povera’ in 1967. from 1993 on he served as artistic director of fondazione prada in milan, presenting shows of walter de maria, louise bourgeois, and anish kapoor among others, in milan and venice. designboom has published the following exhibitions curated by germano celant: ‘marc quinn’ (june 2013), ‘arts & foods: rituals since 1851’ (august 2015),‘christo & jeanne-claude: works in progress’ (february 2016), ‘jannis kounellis’ (may 2019).
'the story of (my) exhibitions': germano celant on his curatorial path and arte poveragermano celant all’interno della mostra / germano celant in the exhibition ‘post zang tumb tuuum. art life politics: italia 1918-1943’,
fondazione prada, milano, 2018

photo by ugo dalla porta

courtesy fondazione prada, milano

 

 

‘the story of (my) exhibitions’ is the outcome of an editorial project germano celant had been working for some time, which would illustrate the synthesis of his wide-ranging critical research. published by silvana editoriale in collaboration with studio celant, the book gathers a selection of the most important exhibitions he curated in chronological order, from those focusing on arte povera to the most recent ones. this overview captures the evolution of celant’s curatorial practice, from personal interpretation to attention to the historical document, with the gaze always turned to non-traditional media – such as books, records and photography – and to the overlaps between the languages of art, architecture, and design.

 

 

‘celant had worked extensively on an editorial project that would be the synthesis of his wide-ranging critical research,’ notes studio celant on the publication of ‘the story of (my) exhibitions’. ‘this book, of which he followed all the processing stages, is the outcome of this endeavor. in each of the exhibitions presented, one can recognize his curatorial method through which he created the ‘exhibition’ system, using different artistic languages and different media to assemble artworks and documentary material. studio celant worked together with the publisher silvana editoriale to make sure that this volume remains true to his original idea.’'the story of (my) exhibitions': germano celant on his curatorial path and arte povera‘when attitudes become form. bern 1969/venice 2013’, fondazione prada, ca’ corner della regina, venezia, 2013.

exhibition view con opere di alan saret, gary b. kuehn, walter de maria

photo by attilio maranzano, courtesy fondazione prada, courtesy gary kuehn and häusler contemporary

© estate of walter de maria 

 

 

below is an excerpt from the foreword of ‘the story of (my) exhibitions’, written by germano celant:
the practice of exhibiting works of art is a form of concrete and environmental writing that has developed over the course of the centuries, taking on a systematic character with the salons and becoming over the years a means of communication and information on the activity of the artist, the theorist and the historian. depending on the contexts of the exhibition and the method of its preparation, the artwork has been subjected to different kinds of display that have shaped its perception and interpretation. it has been immersed in an abstract and conceptual, geometric and monochrome space in order to cut it off from its historical setting, or it has spread out in its architectural container to the point where it has become part of it: a global extension, intended to maintain the unity of all the senses.

 

over time, as a curator and historian of art I have created, in museums and in public and private institutions, situations and spaces in which visual research has been presented for attention. I have shared in its energy and force, trying to get in tune with the artists themselves, or I have constructed, together with architects and designers, a layout and a framework of data that would provide a historical background which corresponds to the practice of scientific research as well as to the highlighting, according to my own interpretation (“my” shows), of the aesthetic and linguistic developments that have left their mark on the modern and contemporary era.'the story of (my) exhibitions': germano celant on his curatorial path and arte poveraimage © designboom

 

 

(excerpt continues) the result has been a succession of exhibitions with different connotations that has led me to identify and, perhaps, outline today a personal approach to writing about exhibitions, intertwined with collateral disciplines, in which the specialized treatment appears to have given way to an all-round vision. the intention, often shared with the artists, has been to meditate on an extra-methodical attitude, in which the parameters of reference and inquiry, of purpose and definition, are constantly changing. so this volume sets out to present an open and still evolving exploration of the means I have adopted to show art from 1967 to the present day. it relies on illustrations that document “the mise-en-scène” in different situations and on different occasions in which I have succeeded in applying and condensing a vision, based on the desire to “tell” the story, outside traditional schemes and taking a scientific approach. a practical and layered form of writing that aspires to reopen and review, systematically, the concept of showing.'the story of (my) exhibitions': germano celant on his curatorial path and arte povera image © designboom

 

 

germano celant on ‘utopia’:  definitions of the term “utopia,” in addition to the meaning of “no place,” are innumerable and in the world of art have almost always assumed the value of a prophetic way of thinking and planning, the strength of which lies in futuristic and precursory proposals. at the same time this projection into the future on the part of painters, sculptors,  musicians, filmmakers, choreographers and architects has coincided with the search for an impossible and experimental prospect of a change in society, often imaginary and illusory, almost always unreal.

 

however, the process of moving toward this ideal condition has always attracted artists because of the continual change of linguistic and factual, behavioral and imaginative signs that utopia requires with twists and turns in history. its reasonable impulse toward a continuous freedom from limitations and boundaries is an urge to experiment that undermines old and traditional ways of thinking, seeing and feeling. a realm of dreams and visions that pushes developments in aesthetics and design toward a new linguistic reality, one that is almost always turned into the construction of a bridge over which pass the proposals for a  reorganization of the art system, from the viewpoint both of imaginary hypotheses and of sociocultural development. the historic avant-gardes of the 20th century were always committed to moving in this direction, seeking to overcome any restrictive regulation of the formal and aesthetic conditions of their time.'the story of (my) exhibitions': germano celant on his curatorial path and arte povera image © designboom

 

 

(excerpt continues) in relation naturally to the degree of exteriorization or interiorization of the questioning of current values and the attack on the stability of principles concerning the condition of society and the individual, as well as the practice of political culture, “utopia” assumed different dimensions and tones that took it to the level of the mass or the individual. in art the discourse was confined to a small elite, with the result  that the disarticulation of the extant and its fragmentation reached limited levels of expansion and diffusion.

 

‘the story of (my) exhibitions’ is now available in bookstores and online.

germano-celant-the-story-of-my-exhibitions-book-designboom-large

‘art or sound’, fondazione prada, ca’ corner della regina, venezia, 2014. exhibition view, photo by attilio maranzano, courtesy fondazione prada, milano

'the story of (my) exhibitions': germano celant on his curatorial path and arte povera image © designboom

'the story of (my) exhibitions': germano celant on his curatorial path and arte povera image © designboom

'the story of (my) exhibitions': germano celant on his curatorial path and arte poveraimage © designboom

'the story of (my) exhibitions': germano celant on his curatorial path and arte povera‘germano celant: the story of (my) exhibitions’ book cover

 

 

book info:

 

 

name: germano celant: the story of (my) exhibitions

general editor: germano celant

coordination and review: studio celant

publisher: silvana editoriale

format: 20 x 24 cm / 557 pages / 325 images / hardback /dual-language edition – italian/english

ISBN: 9788836647668

year: 2021

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