Pier Luigi Tazzi


    ARE WE SO CERTAIN THAT what the world, what “reality,” consists of is defined by its representations?

    And are we then so sure that those representations—linked to each other in systems that form in their turn a global supersystem into which all the smaller systems are integrated, and to which they all refer—are we sure that those representations are so determining that to omit them from one’s account of the world is to step outside “reality” into a void without substance or direction?

    Every organization of culture seems to have leaned toward an absolute system within which the world is inscribed,


    Sculpture is not science but extremely mechanical art, for it generates sweat and bodily fatigue for its maker; and simple measurements suffice for this artist. . . and thus in itself it ends up demonstrating to the eye that which it is, and on its own doesn't provide a sense of amazement to the contemplator.

    —Leonardo da Vinci, Quaderni (Notebooks)

    I BELIEVE THAT, from a historical distance, one of the legacies of the artists of the 1970s might be defined as education: education primarily in living and feeling, but also education in the practice of language and of expression. The 1960s saw

  • Louise Bourgeois

    Louise Bourgeois is one of those artists for whom art is not the central concern of their endeavor. Many such artists have little to do with the history of art, with those rhythms by which we define movements and period styles, for they have already stepped outside history, and yet they endure it in various ways. It can touch them, wound them, or pass them by at a distance. They remain subjects, whose objects are bound to their subjectivity. Their efforts do not enjoy that autonomy from their author, which would allow their passage into history, as impersonal, absolute signs, as symbols of a

  • Reinhard Mucha

    I have often seen Reinhard Mucha’s work as a built place to which one sometimes returns, over intervals of time. Just as one goes back to the same city, each time finding one’s experience of the place changed because of alterations that have taken place there, different itineraries chosen, or imponderable factors that have come into play—so, too, I have ventured through the streets of the “places” Mucha has created. For this reason, each time I document my reactions to the work, it is more a question of where I have been than what I have seen.

    The same is true now, two years after Mucha’s glorious


    There is no roar as mighty, unless it be that of the tempest-tossed sea, when with redoubled blows the north wind comes beating the waters’ foam between Scylla and Charybdis; or that of Stromboli, or Montgibel, when the sulfur flames enclosed within the earth burst forth and rip open the great mountain, blasting rock and earth into the air in a melee of vomited flames; or when the burning grottos of Montgibel give forth that element which in pain they held, and which wildly gives chase to every obstacle that defies its impetuous furor.

    Thus is my desire, and drawn by the force of it, eager to


    THE LANDSCAPE, THE TERRITORY, the earth, like a plane always extending beyond view, offer up to us an infinite and variegated expanse: a universe studded with infinite dispersed points. Or something like one of those great ancient narratives, in which each individual tale is a small precious stone mounted in a large piece of jewelry; or a vast library composed of many, many volumes, some of which contain secret knowledge and others exquisite delights—in the end, the book of the world, in which everything is written and in which no word is ever the last word. Therefore, it will always be a question

  • Alfredo Pirri

    The installation of Alfredo Pirri’s Gli Effeminati Intellettuali (The effeminate intellectuals, 1988) at the Scuola di Guerra Aerea (School of aerial warfare) consisted of two monitors showing a videotape of an inventory of materials, while actor Sandro Lombardi read a passage written by Yukio Mishima. The whole thing lasted for only 20 minutes. The piece was decidedly minimal, not so much in terms of its compositional simplicity, but in terms of its carefully calibrated effect.

    First of all there was the site, which was excellent. The Scuola di Guerra Aerea, which occupies a vast area of the

  • Marie-Jo Lafontaine

    Uprooted from their original supporting structures, Marie-Jo Lafontaine’s video sculptures showed a certain weakness here, to use the artist’s own terminology. Yet in a distinctive way, these works again touched a sensitive cord of emotions even though they were reduced to fragments and multiple filmic units. Certain pieces, especially Le rêve d’Héphaistos (Hephaistos’ dream, 1982) and Le métronome de Babel (Metronome of Babel, 1984–85), suffered from their missing environments, and A las cinco de la tarde (At five in the afternoon, 1984) was less persuasive here than in its original form, which

  • Gino de Domicicis

    Italy is the land of saints, poets, and navigators. The saint is a model of salvation. The poet celebrates the beauty of the world through art. The navigator discovers terrae incognitae. Gino De Dominicis plays all these roles at the same time.

    In this display of the artist’s work, a single spotlight, placed in the middle of a supporting structure, provided the only illumination. The light was turned toward the spectators, who entered near a wall upon which a huge drawing had been rendered. The drawing is a variation on one from 1980, Urvasi e Ghilgamesh: two profiles facing each other, one

  • Ettore Spalletti

    The light of Rennes has the hardness and the transparency of a diamond. Nearly every day, sudden, brief showers of rain cleanse the atmospheric impurities that appear as white zones, alternately polished or padded. People move about in this light like small, utterly discrete bodies, without auras, dry with the fragile and rigid essence of insects encased in boxes. The substantial sentimentality of this picture—à ce cadre—possesses the quality that is attributed to kitsch. The province of Europe is kitsch, and kitsch is one face of a medal, a medal which is used as money; art is the other,

  • DEAR HARRY . . .

    I visited the Hamburger Bahnhof in West Berlin on a clear April morning, accompanied by Harald Szeemann and by Jan Vercruysse, who was there to take a look at the space he had been assigned in this ghost of a train station. The building was empty, except one area where some workers were preparing an installation for I don’t know what event. The evening before, Szeemann had gone over the plan of the building with me in great detail, walking me through his vision of the richly varied show; it was a sumptuous story, but at the same time crossed by veins of nostalgia. Nostalgia for what, I wasn’t


    WE'RE GLIDING, AIRBORNE, OVER a nomadic encampment in the desert: now the tents are royal, now barbaric, now small and elegant, now vast and multipartite. Or are we above a valley of temples dedicated to alien divinities? Or are we gazing down at the flowering of plants on the mirroring surface of a still pool? Or maybe some subterranean fire has provoked eruptions through the earth, thrusting matter upward into chance formations, now cooled by the air into marvelous crystals. Or are these objects strange machines of war left scattered behind by a mysterious army marching toward another victory,

  • Rivka Rinn

    In our century, the connection between new art and the traditions that have preceded it implies the Picasso model, by which an artist appropriates the most varied techniques, incorporates the most disparate objects and elements, cultivates stylistic discontinuity, and pursues a nomadism of the imagination and experience. Yet, despite such a heterogeneous approach, a characteristic “something” persisted in the work of each artist who followed that model. It may be a particular kind of motif that, for most post-Picasso artists, has signified “form,” in the noblest sense attributed to this word by

  • Marco Bagnoli

    From the beginning, Marco Bagnoli’s work has been based on the idea of inquiry. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Bagnoli has not sought to create an art of mere objects—that is, things that are observed and are thus the “objects” of our sight. He is more interested in the connections between subject and object, observer and observed. Bagnoli repeatedly distinguishes “sight” from “vision,” in written texts that are integral parts of his work, contrasting “the cone of sight” to the “sphere of vision,” while knowing that the former contains the latter. He has always followed paths that lead him

  • Salvo

    Salvo’s work finds its most receptive audience in refined observers of things artistic; and certain refined discourses have sought in his work anticipations of developments in the late ’70s, especially the ephemeral triumph of painting as our primary art form. Yet for me, Salvo remains—and this is confirmed by this recent retrospective of his work—the symptom of a crisis. His work’s success or failure—i.e., whether its flowering and continued growth should be seen as healthy exuberance or as a sickly problem—is not, to my mind, the question that should be posed or addressed.

    But if it is a question

  • Pizzi Cannella

    Contemporary artists have been drawn to Rome by the thread of an ancient tradition that began at the end of the cinquecento with Caravaggio, a Lombard, and continues into our own times with Cy Twombly, a Virginian, and Jannis Kounellis, a Greek from Piraeus, and many others, each working in his own stylistic vein. What has attracted them if not the city's tolerance of decay, and the glimpse of the future, of the ultimate order of things, that that decay affords?

    Pizzi Cannella, however, is a native, and he therefore expresses himself directly, without recourse to simulacra of that dense, shadowy

  • C. O. Paeffgen

    Like the work of Joseph Beuys, Sigmar Polke, and Michael Buthe, C. O. Paeffgen's art is a primal art, an art of fantasy, memory, desire, and emotional, seasonal expression. But for their respective primal energies Beuys, Polke, and Buthe have all found outlets (in ideology, alchemy, and a fascination with non-European cultures respectively) that have expansively directed them out into the world. Paeffgen, on the other hand, has undertaken a modest, intimate voyage, a voyage “autour de sa chambre.” Recently, he has used photographic images from newspapers and periodicals in his work; through

  • Bill Viola

    In the dead of the night, the nonstop screening of Bill Viola’s video work stretched through the Mediterranean gardens of the municipal villa of Taormina. Viola’s technological eye is slow, sly, like those of an ensnared or frightened animal, yearning to take in the movements and the minimal transformations of everything around it, since there is meaning in every change, since even at its clearest, the image maintains unknown concatenations, mysterious ties, the mystery never entirely giving up its secrets. Just as architecture has done from the beginning of modern history, the technology of


    WHAT ARE JAN VERCRUYSSE'S works if not doors to nowhere, empty frames, blocked exits, views “through the looking glass”? As objects they hinge between the space we know (which includes what we know of art) and everything outside it, that unknown toward which art tends and on which life floats. When the works cover parts of walls (when they are panels, framed photographs, or mirrors, for example), they are not unlike the camouflage covers spread over the mouths of pits as traps. The cover makes what lies beyond seem full instead of empty; as a mirror reflection makes right into left, Vercruysse’s

  • Guillaume Bijl

    In light of the conspicuous number of art exhibitions these days that involve artificial displays and ready-mades, one cannot help but be happily surprised by the honest correctness of the Belgian artist Guillaume Bijl. He creates installations, which he calls “pièces composées” (“compositions”); to date, he has made 26 of them, from the “driving school” installation of the Ruimte Z in Antwerp in 1979 to this recent installation of terra-cottas in Rome. These are dramatic constructions that present no theory, idea, concept, image, or vision of the world—that is, no logical or formal discourse—but