The Sixties and Seventies: The Body as Language

Curated by Roberta Valtorta

In the ‘60s and ‘70s the body was a central theme in society and in the arts. These were the years of hippie culture, sexual liberation, feminism and utopian visions of a free society in which line between public and private is erased. It is the time of the concerts at Woodstock, the Isle of Wight and Monterey, of the Living Theatre, Grotowski and the Odin Teatret, of the miniskirt and bare breasts, when the body was starting to become an object of consumption and the ideal body was that of models like Twiggy, Jane Shrimpton and Verushka. In art, it was the season of Fluxus, Body Art, performances, happenings. Also in photography, enquiry into the body intensified, and the awareness of the body often coincided with a new awareness of the potential of the medium itself as something open and unconventional. The exhibition presents the works of 12 artists chosen from 3 photography collection: Gabriele Basilico, David Bailey, Günter Brus, Maurizio Buscarino, Eugenio Carmi, Carla Cerati, Paolo Gioli, Guido Guidi, Les Krims, Paola Mattioli, Floris Neusüss and Christian Vogt. It is a universe rich with languages, often focusing on the sequential narrative, the dreamlike mise-en-scene and the presentation of the body in a theatrical, psychological and social dimension.

Museo di Fotografia Contemporanea 26 March – 11 September 2011

David Bailey (London, UK, 1938) is an important fashion photographer, well-known as the portraitist of the ‘Swinging London’ of the ‘60s, immortalizing famous actors, bands and pop stars. In addition to photography, he also works as a director of television ads and documentaries.

Gabriele Basilico (Milan, 1944-2013), an architect by training, is one of the greatest contemporary Italian photographers and one of the best known internationally. Since the mid-‘70s he has devoted his tireless and methodical research to the city as a complex organism and to the transformations of the post-industrial landscape.

Günter Brus (Ardning, Austria, 1938), considered a pioneer of Body Art, is also one of the founders of Viennese Actionism. His work, based on extreme and unsettling performances often accompanied by photography, addresses the issues of human instinct, death and sexuality.

Maurizio Buscarino (Bergamo, 1944), since the early ‘70s he has devoted himself to analyzing the world of theater, from Europe to American to Asia. His work is an impressive and intense study of the human figure, the portrait, identity in fiction and our relationship with death.

Eugenio Carmi (Genoa, 1920 – Lugano, 2016) was one of the leading exponents of Italian abstract art. He also worked in graphic design and industrial communication, kinetic and audiovisual art, occasionally creating photographic abstractions.

Carla Cerati (Bergamo, 1926 - Milan, 2016) has been a writer and photographer since the early ‘60s. An important exponent of the Italian school of reportage, after having devoted herself to the theater, she turned her critical eye to fundamental issues of society, politics, customs and culture.

Paolo Gioli (Sarzano-Rovigo, 1942), among the most original and profound painters, filmmakers and photographers at the international level, has been working for years on issues of the body, the face and human identity, experimenting incessantly with the materials of photography and film, always inventing new visual codes.

Guido Guidi (Cesena, 1941), who worked for years at the IAUV – Architecture Institute of Venice – is respected internationally as a master landscape photographer. Researcher, professor and subtle investigator of pictorial space, he has been active since the late ‘60s.

Les Krims (New York, 1942), photographer and professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology and Buffalo State College, is an artist known for his installations and scenic inventions charged with irony, historically one of the first exponents of ‘staged photography’.

Paola Mattioli (Milan, 1948), philosopher by training, she began doing photography during university and became an assistant to Ugo Mulas. Mainly a portraitist but also a social photographer, she is interested in the image of women and, in parallel, in the languages of photography itself.

Floris Neusüss (Lennep, Germany, 1937) has dedicated his entire career to the practice, study and teaching of the photogram in all its most varied aspects of technique, expression and format, and in the contrasts of light/shadow and movement/stasis. In addition to being an internationally renowned artist, he is also an important writer and teacher.

Christian Vogt (Switzerland, 1946) is one of Europe’s most important photographers. He has worked for years on the relationship between visible reality and imagination, studying the codes of photography in an anti-documentary way, using curious sequences of enigmatic images as well as texts.


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