Critics’ Picks

Franco Guerzoni, Frescoes, 1973, chalk, photographic fragment, 27 x 20".

Franco Guerzoni, Frescoes, 1973, chalk, photographic fragment, 27 x 20".


Franco Guerzoni

Viale Alemagna 6
October 10–November 9, 2014

In the early 1970s, Franco Guerzoni began using photographic prints as supports, to which he applied fragments of painted or silk-screened plaster, saltpeter crystals, charcoal fragments, and other photographs. The result was a body of refined and unclassifiable works that exist at an intermediary point between painting, conceptual photography, sculpture, and collage. He had commissioned a “rookie” photographer and close friend—Luigi Ghirri—to take the photographs that served as the starting point for these pieces.

The exhibition “Franco Guerzoni. Nessun luogo. Da nessuna parte. ‘Viaggi randagi con Luigi Ghirri’” (“Franco Guerzoni. No Place. Nowhere. ‘Stray Wanderings with Luigi Ghirri’”), curated by Davide Ferri, brings together a selection of Guerzoni’s works from the 1970s that began with Ghirri’s prints, as well as a handful of non-altered prints of negatives by Ghirri from the ’70s, and, finally, recent works by Guerzoni that employ prints on plaster of Ghirri’s original negatives. One cannot help but wonder if the interaction between Guerzoni and Ghirri was a purely technical collaboration or if it had more creative implications. All of the works are signed solely by Guerzoni, and in his essay for book accompanying this show, Arturo Carlo Quintavalle maintains that Ghirri’s contribution was limited to putting his camera at the service of his friend and that the images he created for Guerzoni are quite different from the photographer’s signature style. This is a good point but not exactly precise. Take, for instance, Guerzoni’s series “Dentro l’immagine” (“Inside the Image”) and “Antropologie” (“Anthropologies”), where the photograph—as in many of Ghirri’s works from ’70s—is used to reproduce sign systems, be they images or verbal language. Thus, the overall impression here is not of a monologue but rather of a dialogue, an exchange of ideas and intuitions that the two artists cultivated over the course of their “stray wanderings”: ramblings they loved, in the countryside outside Modena, the city where they both lived.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.