Sei sulla pagina 1di 133

Painting 1 analysis and convergences

Paolo Chiasera





This publication has been made with the generous support of the University of Oslo

Dedicated to Zago and Omar. Berlin, 2010

Paolo Chiasera PAINTING I ANALYSIS AND CONVERGENCES Translated by Simon Turner


Introduction 1. Preface 2. Intuition 3. Reflection I Painting 1 Analysis and Convergence 1. Structure II Techniques 1. Technique, Subject, Expression 2. Subjectifying / Objectifying 3. Centralising / Vaporising 4. Ostentatious Mimicry / Cryptic Mimicry 5. Analytical / Synthetic 6. Solid / Fluid 7. Transparent / Opaque 8. High Control / Low Control 9. Strong / Weak 10. Natural / Chemical 11. Schemes / Tensions 12. Watercolour 13. Oil 14. Tempera 15. Mosaic 16. Fresco 17. Acrylic 18. Industrial Enamel 19. Spray

11 12 14


21 24 26 28 29 30 31 32 32 32 33 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 41

III Genres 1. Abstract / Abstraction 2. History 3. Narration 4. Landscape 5. Portraits 6. Still life IV Format 1. Standard / Derived V Model 1. Watson and Crick 2. Theory and Development 3. New Models VI Parameter 1. Transfer 2. F = M x A VII Exhibition 1. Some notes on exhibition design in painting 2. Institutional Responsibility VIII Normed Space, Analysis and Convergences 1. Connection, Compactness, Continuity 2. Normed Space Conclusion Bibliography

43 52 58 62 63 65


74 78 91

93 96

99 102

105 109 121 128

The actual infinite arises in three contexts: first when it is realized in its most complete form, in a fully independent otherworldly being, in Deo, where I call it the Absolute Infinite or simply the Absolute; second when it occurs in the contingent, created world; third when the mind grasps it in abstracto as a magnitude, a number or a type of mathematical order. Georg Cantor



1. Preface This essay offers a number of reflections on the conceptual structure of works of art, and of painting in particular. It is possible to refer to some of the fundamental stages in this critical interpretation, such as the artists original intuition of the work, the relationship between the artist and the work at the time of its creation, and the relationship between the work and the world. The work can be defined as a field of forces that, as a result of an initial misunderstanding, the artist introduces into the system of art and thus, by extension, into society as a whole. When constructing the work, the artist brings to bear a process of significations that are formulated by approximation on a theory that is of a conventional theoretical nature.1 The theory of the artist-auteur will thus provide a possible but not a total vision, since relating to historical culture has always been the result of past partiality, of a realisation, or of a critical relationship.2 Although the artist-auteur cannot have real awareness of the processes that have been brought about, there still remains the crucial importance of theoretical reflections on the artistic language developed by the work as the premise for the creation, production, and use of the work itself. From this point of view, form is a rounding down of the various types of content that the artist attempts to develop through a conventional relationship with history. This content is constrained by
indeed, every form of expression inherited by a society will generally rest on a collective custom or convention, which is indeed the same thing. F. de Saussure, course in general linguistics, Roma, Laterza, 2008, p. 86 (1st ed. Paris 1922) 2 cf. F. Nietzsche, Umzeitgemasse Betrachtungen, Zweites Stuck: Vom Nutzen und Nachteil der Historie fur das Leben, Milano, Adelphi, 2007, p.16 (s.a.)


the form which, over time, shapes its possible variants in a critical relationship between the subject and/or the public with present, past, and future history. Perception of the world is built up around general principles that are to be found in culture, which can be defined as the significance that man attributes to history, through his critical relationship with it. The work is built up around particular principles which are to be found in the system of art and in its applications to the history of art. Even so, despite the fact that a particular system like that of art is created as a one of reference, the work will inevitably go beyond it, in a controversy with the world that will affect its development and erosion in a slow form of subsidence, the outcome of which is the perception of the work as a ruin. 2. Intuition Intueri: schol., Lat Intueri to look (tueri) within (in) The work can be defined as the result of its creators desire. The artists desire is the outcome of a process that aims to recapture the intuition of the work. The artist filters his experience through a mnestic process which, like psychoanalysis, describes a traumatic move forwards between resistance and retrieval. The work thus appears as a visible trace of the mnestic process that generated it. While an intuition is being retrieved, there is also a resistance that fragments the entirety of the reappropriation brought about by the thinking being. Since it is compelled to repeat, the trace that remains becomes the trace of a trace. Each time, the mnestic process comes about as the trace of a previous mnestic experience. This means that the artist is left simply with an experience in fragments a trace that shows only part of the impression that gave rise to it. In this process of retrieval and resistance, the experience

can be said to be the result of a series of traces which have been impressed upon the artists subconscious. This means that the creative process comes about in two different moments: that of intuition, which is the primary moment, and that of reflection, which is the secondary one. Intuition is the moment when the sensation of the work becomes evident as an image in the artists mind, prior to the application of rationalisation. We can define intuition as perception by means of the sensation of an image, before this image actually takes shape in the mind. The image in the sensation appears as a pure entity, since the artist loses the conventionality of personal experience in the intuitive moment of the mnestic process, and thus strips the trace of its burden of conventional meanings. The power of the image emerges in the artists mi nd as an ahistorical spectre,3 removed from time, for it is in all time, and removed from history, for it is filled with all history. Intuition is thus unintentional, with no earthly reference, and it comes about by eluding thought. It is based on the persons ability to recapture without thinking of what-is, and it is the only possibility the artist has to perceive what-is in its entirety.4 The duration of the intuition is brief, since it opposes resistance in order to protect and blur our full and comprehensive perception of the trace that is removed and retrieved. This means
All the things that we perceive and talk about are no more than manifestations of an idea. 16 The idea is eternal and unique: that we also use the plural is not appropriate, 17 The idea is independent from space and time [...] in the idea the simultaneous is intimately linked to the next J.W. Goethe, transl.: La metamorfosi delle piante, ed. Stefano Zecchi. Orig.tit.: Die Schriften zu Naturwissenschaft, Parma, Guanda, 1983, p 146 (s.a.) 4 But, even if we leave aside the fundamental problems of the relationship between negation and nothing, how can we finite beings make the entirety of what-is, in all its universality, accessible in itself and, especially, to us? We can, at a pinch, think of the whole of what-is as an idea and then negate what we have thus imagined in our thoughts and think it negated. M. Heidegger, Che cos metafisica?, Was ist metaphysik?, Milano, Adelphi, 2006, p. 46 (1st ed. Germany 1929)


that, in its construction, the work loses something of the complexity that generated it, and of which only a trace remains. And this trace is the work itself. A number of different traces intervene in this process of construction, in a gradual distancing of the initial sensation, in an attempt to satisfy the desire. 3. Reflection Retrieval of the intuition by the artist has the aim of thinking of the image in the world, with the result that it is placed in the conventionality that is typical of the historic image.This retrieval involves a simplification and approximation, and the loss of the complexity of the intuited image, partly as a result of the formal adaptation that the artist brings about in order to give concrete shape to his idea. The process of creation takes place in the transition between intuition and retrieval, through a reflection of the image from idea to created object.While the signifier of the image in the intuition appears as an ahistorical element, the reflective action of retrieval is what gives meaning to the object of the reflection. While drawing up his project, the artist constructs a signification that, as Ferdinand De Saussure has established, is part of the realisation of the project but not the project itself, and this is because a number of means will intervene in the realisation which, as Luis Jorge Prieto has pointed out,5 are chosen on the basis of the class of means that can be used. The choice of means is of fundamental importance, for everything changes if the same project is made using different utensils: the utensil itself, the utility, and the operator. The

cf. conference by L. J. Prieto at the University of Bologna in 1988 http://www.


particular aspects of the medium will be examined in the first chapter on techniques. The act of reflection is necessary in order to transfer the retrieval of the intuition into a work that can be built, structured, and correlated to the world in its relationship between form and content. And yet in this process of retrieval and transformation of the intuition, the artist loses the intuitive ability to be in the image in all its purity, and thus also the truth of the image itself disappears.6 This impossibility of reliving the image ahistorically is the cause of melancholy in artists. In Mourning and Melancholia, Freud points out that an examination of reality has shown that the object of love is no longer there and begins to require all libido to be removed from all that is connected to that object.7 Melancholy is brought about by the artist himself through his desire for the immortality of the sensation.In the view of the artist, the death of the sensation corresponds to a loss of truth. It is a desire that, by revealing itself, leads to melancholy as the ultimate evolution of the act of desiring. Melancholy is a clouding of the ability to see, a distancing of the object from its mould, and the relationship of identification with the object created Madame Bovary cest moi, says Flaubert which in Lacans process is alienating. When the weapons have been laid down on the battlefield, all that is left are the relics and corpses on the ground, to paraphrase Italo Calvinos The Nonexistent Knights this passing of more and more dented objects from hand to hand. The truth is however contained within the image,

The truth does not enter into relationships, particularly intentional ones. The object of knowledge, determined as it is by the intention inherent in the concept, is not the truth. Truth is an intentionless state of being, made up of ideas. The proper approach to it is not therefore one of intention and knowledge, but rather a total immersion and absorption within it. W. Benjamin, German Baroque Drama, orig. tit.: Ursprung des deutschen Trauerspiels, Turin, Einaudi, 2004, p. 11 (1st ed. Frankfurt am Main 1974) 7 S. Freud, Mourning and Melancholia (1915), p. 103.


even though the viewer does not perceive it as it was in the original intuition. The truth exists independently from the person who thinks it. Recollection of the truth of the work in other words, its being perceived itself as truth requires it to be brought into the world.8 In 1962 Robert Morris built a card file in metal and plastic, mounted on wood, containing 44 index cards that describe the mental processes of the artist and the fortuitous events that led to the creation of his work. The arbitrary arrangement of the cards brought together different categories of both a practical and conceptual nature, as we can see from the sequence of the labels. The individual can initiate only intentional relationships which, as such, cannot reveal the truth of the object to us, since the truth is a concept that cannot appear in the form of an intention. Thus it is that, right from the outset, the artists artefact is the result of a misunderstanding between intuition, intentionality, and outcome. Noesis as intuitive, prediscursive knowledge was developed by Plato as an act of conception through thought, and by Aristotle as the actual act of conceptual understanding. Edmund Husserl worked on the

Giulio Paolini refers to this when he writes about the impossibility of the auteurartist to fully possess an image: I am increasingly attracted, possessed, by the question of the consistency (or inconsistency) of the image, of the vision before (or after) it is deposited in a thing, of the idea of a picture as autonomous entity, pure perspective or dimension....In a word, I believe that the reason why I found out that I was a painter (one day in September 1960) was that I saw before my eyes, and almost unawares, the still unresolved enigma of the picture as original version, a surface always the same that echoes or announces every possible projection of image. It is useless to insist, for there is no response. Borges quotes Whistlers Art happens, and goes on to say it takes place. Art is a little miracle...that somehow eludes the organised causality of history. Yes, art happens, or doesnt happen; this does not depend on the artist. All in all, the meaning (if we can speak of meaning) of an exhibition does not concern who or what, meaning who the artist is or what the exhibited works mean. In no case will a work grant anyone full possession of its personal particulars, and its creator will only be the first pre-chosen witness to carry out the delicate mission of guarding an unfathomable secret. G. Paolini, Giulio Paolini, Bologna, Damiani, 2008, p. 25


idea of noesis in perception, in the imagination, and in memory as an experience that is lived in its entirety from a subjective point of view in other words, the set of acts of comprehension applied to the object of the experience.

Fig. 1 Robert Morris Card File, 1962

Within thought, the formulation of the concept which is opposite to sensation, is noema. In his Ideas: General Introduction to Pure Phenomenology, Husserl considers noematic content brought about by intentional consciousness (Erlebnis), which is a perception or desire of something in experience as a perceived or desired objective datum. Perception is noesis, or intuition, the subjective form of Erlebnis. Starting out from a relationship with reality, through the rigid laws of Euclidian space, on which the representation is built, art in its symbolic moment manages to curve space, evoking the perfection and wonder of the infinite, which is outside of the plane, in the transcendental, but also inside the plane, in language.
Berlin, 2008



The painter takes his body with him. Paul Valry 1- Structure Painting 1 offers an interpretation of the medium as a dialectic between objectivity and subjectivity within a vision that recalls Husserls egology in the way the specifics of the medium adhere to the objectifying propositions of the subject as a being for the existent.9 The experience of the subject as the trace of a thought that becomes sign-action. Whether aware or unaware of his legacy, the subject is dispersed in the painting and in its phenomenological cognitive experience which, as possibly in no other discipline, becomes a fundamental experience. Painting is to be considered as a conceptual project which aims to achieve a form that reflects the content within a linguistic reflection on the tradition of the painting medium. The painting surface holds within itself the reasons for its self-structuring. The internal reason is the artist-auteurs poetic vision, which transforms the initial intuition into formal concepts in other words, into images and surfaces. The pictorial event is built up by a series of relationships and epiphanies between different elements, which we shall analyse later, offering the reader one possible interpretation of the works, and the artist a possible instrument for reflecting on their own work. The

The artists will is secondary to the process he initiates from the idea to completion. His stubbornness can only be ego. S. LeWitt, Sentences on Conceptual Art, 0-9, New York 1969 and Art-Language, vol. 1, no. 1, England, May 1969


following chart has been drawn up on the basis of my own experience and, far from representing a limit, may help in the organisation of some aspects of modern painting.The construction of the work takes place through a chain consisting of a series of six points that can be considered either separately or in groups. The choice will depend on the direction adopted on each occasion by the artist-auteur and on the cultural options that are taken into consideration. P1 provides a model for the interpretation of the painting process as a language. The supporting framework of the painting discourse is established by six nerve centres, the development of which makes it possible to build up a complete system.
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Technique Format Genre Model Parameter Exhibition

Research into the specifics of the medium is introduced at the formal level, from classic techniques to subsequent cultural developments, from easel painting through to a more extended idea of the movable work, and to obsolete techniques for un-movable works like fresco and mosaic. All techniques watercolour, tempera, oil, acrylic, industrial enamel paints, spray paint, fresco, and mosaic have particular characteristics and use-values that will be indicated in the following chapters. The format concerns research into the space of the work with considerations about the various ways and means in which the subject is defined. Standard space and derived space are two macro-categories that will be analysed in

the case of the work of some artists who, in their most convincing expressions, have created a map of possible interactions between the work and its spatial relations. Historically, research into genres includes the portrait, landscape, history painting, and still life and, by extension, religious painting, capriccios, genre painting, and landscape painting. Abstract art comes in addition to these genres. Recent research into the potential for an extension of the painting genre to include curatorial practices when putting together an exhibition that takes shape in the form of painting representation is currently one of my areas of interest. In the following book, however, this potential will not be dealt with in an extensive manner. Research into the various models examines the production of knowledge through the iconic knowledge developed by Aby Warburg and recent studies by Georges Didi-Huberman, Gottfried Bhm, Hans Belting, Horst Bredekamp, and American exponents of criticism such as Rosalind Krauss and Yves Alain Bois. In the chapter on models, an example will be given of iconic development based on scientific research concerning the discovery of DNA. The conceptual reason is the search for parameters, which involves a formal transfer of the model through a series of decisions that go to form the artists vision. In the chapter devoted to exhibition, there will be an analysis of the relationship of the work with the institution, the public, and the artist-auteur who created it. A proposal for reassessing the roles played by the three participants, based on a perspective that is different from the one established by Institutional Critique, will also be put forward.



The technique of an art consists of a language and a logic. Paul Cezanne 1. Technique, Subject, Expression We have seen how intuition and its retrieval bring about a traumatic fusion,10 from unconscious to conscious image, from perceived to apperceived image. Reflection allows the person to intentionally realise his or her idea of the work by defining the utensils and their use. Conscious realisation is the highest possible degree of retrieval of intuition. It is through the use of materials that the artist establishes a programme of realisation that will come about within the context of use in other words in the realisation of the project. The material is chosen on the basis of possible classes, making the material adhere to the conscious idea, which is in turn based on the vision of the artist, who contextualises the use within a precise intention. The artist recognises a series of characteristics in the material, opting for those that are most suited to his or her programme. The material thus has intrinsic characteristics other than those chosen by the artist as important for the realisation of the project. The material has its own specificity, its own language, and its own grammar11 which
In Freud, an event is considered as traumatic only in the light of a subsequent event, which reinterprets it retroactively in a posthumous action. H. Foster, The Return of the Real, the Avant-Garde at the End of the Century, Milan, Postmedia, 2006, p.10 (1st ed. USA 1996) 11 When words such as painting and sculpture are used, they connote a whole tradition and imply a consequent acceptance of this tradition, thus placing limitations on the artist who would be reluctant to make art that goes beyond thelimitations. S. LeWitt (Sentences on Conceptual Art, 0-9, New York 1969 and Art-Language, vol. 1 no. 1, England, May 1969)


refer to the artist who uses it. The use of the medium by the artist introduces a degree of subjectivity of use into the construction of the work. There is thus a distance between the intention of the work and its effective capacity. This distance is defined by the signifier-components of the language of the medium.12 These signifier-components are the bases of the autonomy of the work with regard to the artist-auteur.13 The medium will be interpreted through the critical use that the artist makes of it with regard to the faculty of knowing, pleasing, and displeasing, referred to by Kant in his Copernican turning point. The analysis of the medium looks at its semantic dimension as an immediate sign of appropriation of the subject and its representation14 as a subjective correlative. To sum up, we can say that the entire semiotic system of the language precipitates into the semantics of enunciation, so brilliantly described by Louis Marin as the analysis by the present of the presence to itself of the speaking ego.15 Ferdinand de Saussure maintains that the sign consists of the signified and the signifier: one is the prerequisite of the other. The signified is not a thing but a psychic representation of the thing, in which the signifier is the material mediacf. note 9 The signifier plays an active role in determining the effects in which the signifiable shows that it is subjected to its sign, thus becoming the signified. H. Foster op cit. p.42 14 Just as the object generally exists solely for the subject, as its representation, so too does each individual class of representation refer to a function determined by the subject, which is referred to as the cognitive faculty. This subjective correlative of time and space, in themselves pure forms, is termed pure sensibility by Kant and this designation can still be preserved, paying tribute to the man who opened up this new approach to the gnosiological problem: pure is not absolutely exact, since sensibility already presupposes matter. The subjective correlative of matter or of causation, for these two are the same, is understanding, which is nothing more than this. To know causation... to such an (intellectual) perception, would be impossible for us if we had no knowledge of an immediate action as a starting-point. This is the effect on the animated body: it is the immediate object of the subject A. Schopenhauer The World As Will and Representation. It. ed., Mursia, 1991, p. 48. 15 L. Marin, On Representation. Rome, Meltemi, 2001, p. 41
12 13


tor of the signified. The signified is as though behind the signifier, and can only be reached through it. Through his particular action, the artist as a body declares and objectifies his presence in a subjectifying manner through the signified.16 Through the artist-auteurs programme, the signifiers are arranged into signifieds through mimetic relationships and the particular characteristics of the medium in terms of objectivisation.17 The construction of a creative vision makes it possible to implement a practice that declares itself within the work through the normed space that governs it (we shall return to this in the chapter on connectivity and normed space). The arrangement of signifieds and signifiers is given order through language. The artists language is his adherence to the terms of a discourse, such as the language of painting, and his attempt to extend it.18 The language of painting is structured around the dialectic between work and auteur, object and subject, and its phenomenological development through the artists critical consciousness and project strategy or, as Heidegger puts it, through his thrownness as a being for death through a life project. Within the terms of the language, painting could be interpreted as the phenomenology of its manifestation in the form of a dialectic between subject and object, signifier and signified. Dasein is a thrownness-project in the historical world, but the way the being appears depends precisely on the historical age. The element of symbolic comparison is the subject that introduces into the work/world/time relationship its auIf the thesis describes the being (Sein) of the real, then the antithesis describes its action (Tun). Also the consciousness it has of itself, which is none other than the splitting of the real into a real that is denied in its pre-givenness (being which thus becomes an abstract notion or a signified)... A. Kojve La dialettica e lidea della morte in Hegel, Giulio Einaudi Editore, 1948, p. 80 17 Certain aspects or elements of the material datum are preserved as they are in the work, in other words without transformation... A. Kojve op. cit. p. 81 18 Successful art changes our understanding of the conventions by altering our perceptions. S. LeWitt op. cit. 2


teurial intentionality. It does so through a series of decisions that contextualise the work in its relationships of reciprocity with the language, which is the expression of its being in the world.19 In intuition, we initially have the pure image as a pure signified, as a dream or, taking from Freud, symbolic order. Through a series of removals and retrievals, the artist establishes the image through language. This contextualisation implies a loss of signifiers, which remain latent in the signified. Through his creation, the artist imposes a series of subsequent decisions and displacements, depending on the characteristics of the medium used. The medium in turn has its own historical past and its own understanding in the tradition of its use, and it is the signifying bearer of signifieds. Through the medium, the artist translates his intention into a signification which, as it takes shape, will imply the creation of a new entity which is different from the intention behind the conscious image in other words, the image retrieved by thought. The new entity, which is the work, is created out of the expectations of the artist-auteur, but it is shaped as an impression.20 What follows is an analysis of the particular characteristics of classical techniques. 2. Objectifying / Subjectifying We have identified technique as the instrument the artist uses in order to establish a relationship with the world, as the external object that he indicates as a point of reference for his process of appropriation through the urge to desire. This relationship, which comes from within the artist, allows us to view the relationship between technique

The conventions of art are altered by works of art. S. LeWitt, op. cit. Once the idea of the piece is established in the artists mind and the final form is decided, the process is carried out blindly. There are many side effects that the artist cannot imagine. These may be used as ideas for new works. S. LeWitt, op. cit.
19 20


and artist as part of a potential dynamic and a mobile tension between subjectifying and objectifying aspirations. The objectifying aspirations can be traced back to the pulsations of life, which tends to create increasingly complex and well-organised structures of reality through analytical particularities. By means of considerable control, these make it possible to establish a close relationship with reality. This is based on a high mimetic value, in which virtually nothing remains of the subject in the extremes brought about by trompe loeil. The artists desire for appropriation is outside of him while from within him the vision becomes part of an exiting from him, in an erotic loss that brings about surprise but not awe. Awe remains for as long as something remains of the artist at least his point of view.21 What is subjectifying is death, which is the relationship of the artist with himself. The object of the desire for appropriation is within the subject and appears through its reinforcement. The initial misunderstanding, which is that of the unfulfilled translation of the intuition and the acceptance of the art object as an unfulfilled object, leads back to a desire for a return to the origin, which is yearned for in the possibility of turning the living form into a form of organic existence. Thus it is that the characteristics of subjectivity can be referred to this scatology of the inorganic and of the corporeal, with its fluidity, weakness, succinctness, crypticism, and residue. While Eros is objectifying, Thanatos is subjectifying in his pornographic relationship of abandonment, in his reconciliation of desire, and in his desire of himself as an object within a subject. In his letter to Franz Kafka, Carmelo Bene introduces the concept of pornographer in order to work out a critical vision of
To use the language of classical seventeenth-century theory, representation arouses wonderment in the spectator, while trompe-loeil causes surprise. L. Marin, op. cit. p. 149


transformation through the cogito of the writer into an insect. His mindless life, never eroticised towards others, is pornographic, for it is always imploded within itself and weighed down in its own residuality. 3. Vaporising / Centralising In his Intimate Journals, Charles Baudelaire proclaims that the vaporization and the centralization of the ego, all lies in this.22 In the relationship between subject and object, through the medium and its specificity, the work constitutes an account of the artist-auteurs inner movement of centralising and vaporising actions. Uncontrolled objectivisation of the subject through a subjectifying scatological dimension that leads to dejection is centralising. And objectivisation controlled by the object, in a de-subjectifying relationship to the auteur, is vaporising. In this context it is interesting to point out how the etymon of the word scatology is excrement and material, but also reasoning. In this sense, if we take a close look at Mondrian, we can see the residuality of his brushstroke closed within powerful, objectifying compositional guidelines or grids, which are decided in advance. Dejection is what remains of the subject a precious residue of its weakness and uniqueness. It is the objectifying urge of the subject that pushes to emerge in a vital impulse that immediately recalls its opposite the inorganic death of its residuality, and an attempt to objectify itself as a residual subjectifying and centralising presence. This residuality recalls death, a call to return to the origins, and a crypticism which is that of the insect which, in order not to be captured, cryptically blends into nature, and compresses itself into the limits imposed


C. Baudelaire, Intimate Journals. Milan, Adelphi, 1952, p.49


Fig. 2 A locust camouflaged among foliage

Fig. 3 Piet Mondrian Composition with Red and Black, 1936

upon it by its background. The same crypticism can also be found in Mondrians black which, even though it remains in the objectivity of the grid, shows itself in its dejection. As we have seen, the controlled objectivation of the object is vaporising. Mondrians black line is objectivised as a measurable, repeatable line which is evident in its representation.The subject identifies with the represented object in an analytical manner, denying itself as

evidence of the other.An example of this is the butterfly which, with its particular colours, mimics the leaf in order to hide from its predators. This coming out of oneself to support the other is an expression of erotic seduction for, unlike the locust which hides cryptically, the butterfly shows itself for what it is not in other words, a leaf. In this case, the subject does not amplify itself but rather negates itself in active mimicry, in the object represented and, in the case of Mondrian, in the composition. The use of the technique and of its internal qualities in subjectifying terms is centralising, while the use of the technique and its qualities in desubjectifying terms is vaporising. 4. Ostentatious Mimicry / Cryptic Mimicry Louis Marin points out how to represent means to present oneself representing something, and every representation, every representational sign or process includes two dimensions a reflexive dimension: presenting oneself; and a transitive dimension: representing something with a twofold effect: the effect of the subject and that of the object.23 According to the principle of resemblance, the mimetic act of representation acts in two different ways. The principle presupposes the replacement of the present element with the model of an absent element. In nature, mimicry is the ability to deceive in order to gain an evolutionary advantage. In ostentatious Batesian mimicry, one species attempts to imitate another in order to dissuade predators. The animal conforms to the absent model by taking on its form. Here there is a desubjectifying vaporisation in which forms are adopted that are not their own but similar through chromatic aposematism. The loss of oneself in the other, and in nature, takes place through


L. Marin, On Representation. 2001 Meltemi, Rome, p. 123


self-denial. We can call this type of relationship ostentatious mimicry Fig. 4. The act of hiding from a predator by confusing oneself chromatically against ones background is referred to by biologists as cryptic mimicry. The locust in Fig. 2 does not deny itself, but confuses itself with the nature around it. What takes place is a subjectifying centralisation that entails the assumption of forms, colours and behaviours that make the individual similar to its environment or to some parts of it. Confusing oneself in nature without negating oneself through deception is a form of crypticism. Unlike the lepidopteron that shows itself as a leaf, the cicada remains what it is. In cryptic mimicry, the mimicry is indirect, and there is a form in which one can be cryptic by hiding, so there is a narrator who adjusts the composition. We can talk of cryptic or diegetic mimicry. To sum up, we can say that ostentatious mimicry is desubjectifying and direct, while cryptic mimicry is subjectifying and indirect. 5 Analytical / Synthetic Analysis is based on apprehension mediated by the object through reflection. Synthesis, on the other hand, is based on an immediate understanding of the object through intuition. Coming back to the question of mimesis, it is legitimate to maintain that cryptic mimicry requires a level of synthesis, which is that of the cicada in its environment. This allows the cicada to confuse itself immediately with the leaf, while the butterfly, which shows itself until it disappears, analytically reconstructs the leaf by using its aposematic qualities.


Fig. 4 The form and colour of Gonepteryx rhamni (Lepidoptera Pieridae) imitate a green leaf

6. Solid / Fluid A fluid allows the formation of free surfaces, while a solid has a shape of its own. Solid and fluid bodies react differently to transformation: in the case of a fluid body, the effort is proportional to the speed of deformation, while in the case of a solid body subject to transformation, there is a coincidence between the deformation and the deforming pressure.

7. Transparent / Opaque Transparency is dispersed by absorbing light, whereas opacity appears with objective clarity by repelling light. Opacity is linked to cryptic mimicry, and thus to an affirmation rather than a negation of the subject. The quality of transparency is that of representing the object through transitive extension. In ostentatious mimicry there is nevertheless the perception of showing oneself in disguise in other words, by becoming transparent to oneself and opaque in ones representation of the other.Through gradual opacification, transparency makes possible the mimicry of the object in representation, but total opacification leads back to a subjectivisation of the material residuality. transparent opaque object objectivity subjectivity object

Mimicry is played out within a scale of opacification in which we can see the two extremes of transparent/opaque as a constant dialectic which is required for representation. One evokes the other, like Baudelaires two lovers, and their action falls within the terms of substitution.24 In semantics, transparency indicates the potential for substitution, like the lepidopteron/leaf, which is objectified into a leaf through deceptive replacement. Opacity, on the other hand, is seen as a necessary presence, though in the field of representation it will evoke its counterpart which is the lack of transparency by acting in a deceitful manner: the cicada which, because of its excessive subjec-


Louis Marin, op. cit. p. 124


tivity, denies itself in transparency by harmonising with its background. 8. High Control / Low Control High control is analytical and objectifying, while low control is synthetic and subjectifying. 9. Strong / Weak Strong media react to gravity by making it possible to construct a verticality, which is an erection obtained by strong interaction. Weak media allow for weak interaction, in which the deformation depends on the gravity to which they are subject. 10. Natural / Chemical Watercolour, tempera, oil, fresco and mosaic are natural media. With the exception of mosaic, which consists of a variety of materials with different characteristics, all of them have different degrees of opacification through a principle of transparency. Tempera, the most opaque of natural media, can be transformed into gouache by adding a thinner. By making it possible to obtain different values of transparency, this quality gives natural media a greater degree of mimicry, both ostentatious and cryptic/diegetic. Natural media have internal tensions, as we shall see in the next paragraph, which makes them subjectifying. Synthetic media such as acrylic, and industrial enamels and sprays, do not have transparency, so their tendency is towards objectivisation, since they assert themselves without negating or confusing themselves, thus revealing a low level of mimicry.

11. Neutrality / Tensions

unmonumental monumental uid solid low control high control coated transparent weak strong diegesis mimesis synthetic analytic subjectifying desubjectifying

watercolour gouache oil fresco mosaic acrylic enamel spray D S D S D S D S D A S A S A S A M DM DM S W S

uid solid

Fig. 5



D = desubjectifying S = subjectifying A = analytical S = synthetic M = mimetic D = diegetic S = strong W = weak

In the above chart, each medium is considered according to its particular qualities with regard to the artist who uses them. Cross-checking has made it possible to make some considerations about the substantial differences between natural media and those of chemical origin. Natural media reveal internal dialectic tensions that make it possible for the artist to make an impression on them. These tensions characterise each medium in the way in which they appear and in the state they can reach. Oil, for example, appears almost solid but linseed oil leads to transparency.

It is inside the tensions of the medium that the artist centralises and vaporises his subjectivity. Chemical media, which are more stable, do not present internal dialectics, which means they are more objectifying and neutral: in other words, neutralising and tautological in the way they make reference to themselves. This is why they are referred to as desubjectifying with regard to the subject that uses them, which is sublimated without any real or relevant possibility of making its own personal impression. Within the terms of a work on subjectivity like that of Jackson Pollock, this dialectic necessity makes it possible, for example, within the context of a semantics of painting, to understand the painters decision not to abandon oil while using industrial paints. Industrial enamel paint is a fluid, opaque medium, but it would have no subjectifying capacity without the counterpart of oil, the characteristics of which reintroduce the possibility of subjectivisation through industrial enamel paint.25

Fig. 6 Jackson Pollock One: Number 31, 1950

Painting is a state of being. Painting is the discovery of self. Every good artist paints what he is [...], interview with Pollock, in S. Rodman, Conversation with Artists, New York 1957, in Lettere, riflessioni, testimonianze, SE, Milan 1991


12. Watercolour Watercolour is a subjectifying medium, and its synthetic value makes it possible to establish a relationship of immediate apprehension through intuition. The cryptic/diegetic characteristics of watercolour make it particularly effective for technical drawings, as it has an indirect, relatively unassertive quality.

Fig. 7 Paul Czanne Le Mont Sainte-Victoire, 1902-1906

In this regard, we can consider the use of watercolour in Czanne and Canaletto, who were both so mindful of the structure of drawing which, thanks to the transparency of the medium, is not covered. Watercolour is a fluid, corporeal, and pornographic medium in its scatology, which is also linked to an abandonment that comes from a low level of control, and from the weakness of its deforming interaction, due to gravity. The pornographic drift is linked to the abandonment of the pornographer, who closes up in himself in an ejaculation: this is the interpretation of the medium put forward by Luigi Ontani, who emphasises the decorative arabesque and rampant quotationism which is twisted, narcissus-style, in a language that tells us of dreams and pleasures. Another example can be seen

in Rodins watercolour sketches, where the bodies of the lovers are fused together in copulation. The ethereality of abandonment in a country watercolour, and amusement for the mischievous middle classes, who developed the eroticising aspect of desire through the speed of execution, once again takes us back to Narcissus in a constant reverberation between representation and reference to subjectivity.

Fig. 8 Auguste Rodin Bilitis, 1895

13. Oil Oil is the most versatile medium for it has particularly pronounced internal tensions that allow for a considerable degree of freedom of expression. It appears to be a solid, but tends towards fluidity. It appears to be opaque, but tends towards transparency. These characteristics make it a unique medium, sophisticated in its variants. Its transparency and diverse fluidity allow for complete ostentatious mimicry, thanks to the high degree of control provided by its density and long drying times, and to the analytical qualities that this entails.

Oil is an objectifying medium, but at the same time also subjectifying as a result of its high dejection and residual qualities. Even so, its objectifying characteristics are never linked to a form of syntheticity that does not belong to oil. This explains the use of oil in analytical Cubism, and its abandonment in synthetic Cubism, which uses cryptic mimicry to legitimise papier coll as a form of painting. Oil is a strong medium and well-suited to monumentality. 14. Tempera Tempera is a subjectifying, synthetic, covering medium and this makes possible a form of cryptic mimicry accentuated by a fluidity that tends towards solidity. It was an excellent medium for icons, which inevitably required an intuition of the Imago Christi by the artist, who had an immediate and, since it was intuitive, all-encompassing experience of it. Its great stability and almost absolute flatness make it ideal for both a mental and a monumental dimension.

Fig. 9 Christus Pantokrator, 1363


15. Mosaic Mosaic is an objectifying medium that also has objectifying characteristics, including syntheticity. As a medium, mosaic allows for diegetic mimicry through the solidity of its tesserae. The highly level of control, power, and monumentality of mosaic make it a medium well suited to allegory. The variety of materials used for the tesserae allow it to convey forceful symbolic content, as we see in the case of gold in S. Apollinare in Classe in Ravenna, where the mosaic in the apse is divided into two zones. At the top there is a Transfiguration scene: in a gold sky studded with stylised clouds, from which the hand of God emerges, we see a large bejewelled disc containing a cross set with precious stones, standing out from the background sky, which is spangled with 99 gold and silver stars. The attire of the patron saint, Apollinaris, is speckled with golden bees, a symbol of eloquence, and prays to God for the salvation of his faithful, who are represented by twelve lambs. Like frescoes, mosaics are immovable, forming part of the architecture they are on. In his Broken Plates series, Julian Schnabel reintroduces mosaic as a movable asset, transferring the symbolic weight of the tesserae into the everyday world of a broken plate, and introducing oil painting as a visual binder. Today, pixels have replaced the idea of mosaic for building up an image through a juxtaposition of tesserae. Within the terms of a paradoxical reintroduction of the synthetic content of mosaic, one possible form of hyper-real representation is suggested by Chuck Close, who uses oil painting to reconstruct the synthetic nature of the mosaic tessera, underscoring the specific characteristics of the medium.


Fig. 10 Julian Schnabel The Patients and the Doctors, 1978

Fig. 11 Comparison of a detail from S. Apollinare in Classe with a painting by Chuck Close

16. Fresco Fresco is created by painting with pigments of mineral origin mixed in water on fresh plaster. Through a process of carbonation within the plaster, the colour will be incorporated into it, and it will resist the effects of both water and time. The colour is rapidly absorbed by the plaster and the process of carbonation takes place within about three hours from the application. The giornata (the days work) is introduced in the development of the fresco because of these characteristics. Any corrections are applied

using the a secco technique, in which temperas are applied directly onto the dry plaster, though the result is degradable and does not ensure the same duration. Fresco is a subjectifying, synthetic, diegetic technique with mimetic tendencies, and it is strong and covering, with an absorbent quality close to transparency, with a low level of control and a certain fluidity. It is a stationary medium and in the contemporary world it has been replaced by temporary site-specific works, which are not made to last. These normally take the form of wall paintings with other techniques such as writing, in the case of Sol LeWitt, whose innovation in wall painting is examined in the Abstract sub-chapter of the Genre chapter, or chemical media such as acrylic or spray paint. 17. Acrylic Acrylic is an objectifying, covering medium, with a high level of control, and it is thus strong and monumental. Even so, it has synthetic characteristics that introduce a diegetic mimesis ensured by its subjectifying fluidity that nevertheless remains controlled. Like other chemical media, acrylic too is neutral and cold. Despite the synthetic characteristics brought about by its fluidity, its coating value makes it suitable for creative forms that intend to exclude all criticise subjectivity, since acrylic is ontologically and thus necessarily linked to the world of industry and advertising, which bring about an idea of a stereotyped collective subject

Fig. 12 Jean-Marie Basquiat The Dutch Settlers,1982


It is in this contradictory mechanism that Basquiat replaces oil with it in his artistic practice. He introduces street culture as a model of his research based on subjectifying gestural expressiveness and a contrary stereotyped adhesion of the contemporary Afro-American individual like himself, deep in the counterculture of New York which has arisen from criticism of mass society and inevitable participation in it. 18. Industrial Enamel Paint Industrial enamel paint is a desubjectifying, synthetic, diegetic, weak, low-control, covering, fluid medium. Its oily density never changes and it never changes state, which means that the ability of the artist to leave his own impression in subjectifying terms is considerably limited. Jackson Pollocks use of industrial enamel is based on this objectivity, which is reassessed in subjectifying terms by the presence of oil as its base and by the dripping technique, in which the paint is poured onto the canvas from above. The oil thus dilutes the objectivity of the enamel in the composition, which once again acquires subjectifying characteristics. 19. Spray Paint Spray paint is a desubjectifying, synthetic, diegetic, weak, covering, low-control, fluid medium. Graffiti writing is the technique that, because of its immediacy and stability, has most influenced the introduction of spray paint in contemporary art. Street culture brings about social criticism based on the conflict between the speed of action as the assertion of an individuality and of a society of the spectacle that does not take the individual and his or her needs into consideration. In graffiti writing, the artist develops the idea of inter-subjectivity by being part of a crew, of which they consider themselves as a member,

producing mural images capable of competing with advertising posters in terms of size and impact, and illustrating the hardships of the suburbs compared with the city centre. It is a protest that authorises vandalism as a form of rebellion, in which the tag is a sign of a passage with aesthetic and political overtones. In contemporary art, these references, which are linked to an aesthetic of vandalism, are developed through the use of spray paint as a connection to underground movements.



1. Abstract / Abstraction Edmund Husserl states that every intentional experience is to be considered as an objectifying act, since the basis of the act is acknowledged in itself. All non-objectifying acts are based on objectifying acts, without which they would be blind in a constant intertwining.26 Objectifying reason has the task of providing the eyes of intellect (das Auge des Intellekt geben).27 The categories of abstract and abstraction form part of Edmond Husserls definition of act in the terms in which they develop a different relationship of the subject with itself. Abstract, from abstractus, the past participle of ab-trahere, which means to detach, is an attribute that indicates the quality of an intellectual act of reduced emotiveness. The abstract is desubjectifying, introducing a detachment from the subject in favour of objectivity. Abstraction derives from abstrahere, in the sense of drawn off, a mental process by which a set of objects is drawn off and exchanged, with a concept that constitutes its essence through processes shared with the objects of what is replaced. Abstraction is a shifting in other words, the proposition of the subject through a category-based generalisation that is subjectifying on emotional bases. What is objectifying is an act given as an act that targets an object, which in the case of abstract art is an ideal object. Edmund Husserl talks of representative content as



E. Husserl, Vorlesungen ber Ethik und Wertlehre 1908-1914, Kluwer Academic, Dordrecht 1990 pp. 35-49 I. A. Bianchi, Fenomenologia della volont, Desiderio, volont, istinto nei manoscritti inediti di Edmund Husserl, Milan, Franco Angeli Editore, 2003, p. 28


regards the objectifying act correlated with an intention. Abstract art questions itself about the weakening of the auteur through a series of models adopted as standards, on which objectivity can be built up. Martin Heidegger maintains that, as subjectum, man can determine and realise the essence of subjectivity according to the way he understands and wants himself .28 For Kazimir Malevich and Wassily Kandinsky, the detachment comes through language. Sol LeWitt, on the other hand, delegates the execution of the project to a group of chosen people, while Wade Guyton delegates the execution, which was previously the subject, to machines. For Gerard Richter, detachment takes place through the conceptual implications of the photographic medium and its paradoxical translation into painting. Jacob Kassay shifts his attention to the technical-applicational characteristics of photography by transferring them to painting as formal consequentialities. For Robert Ryman, detachment is based on the minimalist implications of a reduction of material to pure objectivity. A non-objectifying act is an emotive, psychological act. Abstract Expressionism can be seen in the works of Willem de Kooning, Barnett Newman, Jackson Pollock, and in the spiritual space of Mark Rothko. Abstract art needs the presence of a language that makes it objective, quite apart from the subject that thinks it, in order to base upon this new objectivity a correlation of intentional acts that may become the elements of a universal language. Point, Line and Surface (1928) illustrates the grammar that Wassily Kandinsky developed in order to achieve an intentional form of depersonification within the work. This is a necessary loss of the subjective in order to create a greater degree of sharing. Perceiving the objectify28

M. Heidegger, Holzwege. Off the Beaten Track, Ital. title: Holzwege Sentieri interotti, Milan, Bompiani, 2002 (1st ed. Frankfurt am Main 1950), p. 134


ing scope of the abstract art he was going to bring about, Wassily Kandinsky introduced the subjective through the collective experience of the spiritual, as a subjectively objective dimension. In 1911 he wrote Concerning the Spiritual in Art, as a proposal in favour of the social value of artistic practice as a means to define a reference grammar for a mystical experience. Pure, eternal aesthetic experience is objective and can be understood thanks to the subjective element.29 This brings to mind the Neo-Platonic philosophy that sees in theosophy, so loved by Kandinsky, the divine sapience (from the Latin root sapientem, which knows the reason for things) to which man may gain access. Through empathy in the Spiritual in Art, he drafts a grammar based on the premise that colour and form bear with them an inner sonority which, through the picture, is conveyed beyond the subject portrayed to the viewer.

Fig. 13 Wassily Kandinsky Punkt und Linie zu Flche. Beitrag zur Analyse der malerischen Elemente. 2nd edition, 1928

W. Kandinsky, Concerning the Spiritual in Art. Orig. title: ber das Geistige in der Kunst. Insbesondere in der Malerei, Milan, SE, 1989 p. 46 (1st ed. Germany 1912)


Fig. 14 Wassily Kandinsky ber das Geistige in der Kunst: Insbesondere in der Malerei, 1911

In a letter of 1914, Piet Mondrian writes to Hans-Peter Bremmer: I create a combination of lines and colours on a flat surface, so as to express a general form of beauty with supreme consciousness. Nature (and what I do not see) inspires me and, as in every other painter, puts me in an emotional state that prompts within me an urge to do something, but I want to get as close as possible to the truth and abstract everything from it, until I reach the foundations (even if only the exterior foundations) of things [...] I believe it is possible that through horizontal and vertical lines diligently constructed [...] and brought to harmony and rhythm, these basic forms of beauty [...] can become a work of art. Mondrian investigates abstraction as an abstract transferral that starts from perceived reality. The perceived datum emerges as a model to be developed on a theosophical plane, through a level of syntheticity that permits only pure colours, so as to negate the ego by reducing it. In de Stijl, the negotiation of the ego takes place through a purely visual equilibrium, which is capable of exercising a positive influence on social life.

Fig. 15 De Stijl Journal, 1921

Introducing a project strategy that can refer solely to itself, Kazimir Malevich sees in Suprematism his objective for formulating an abstract art that is thus not directed at nature at the visible, one might say but at absolute purity. From 1913 to 1915 Kazimir Malevich formulated a practical mechanism in painting that defined his painting practice. It culminated in the publication of the 1915 manifesto in the form of mechanical Suprematism.

Fig. 16 Kazimir Malevich Black Cross, 1915

As Filiberto Menna points out when reflecting on the definition of transcendence as the foundation of art, Ad Reinhardt takes up Malevich in a reductive operation of shifting painting from the sensible to the ab47

stract, and to what belongs to the domain of concept30 and, as Giulio Carlo Argan notes, he interacts with Marcel Duchamp who posed the problem of overcoming the sensorial, retinal limit of painting31 in a new approach by the subject to the conceptual categories on which the definition of the work is carried out.

Fig. 17 Ad Reinhardt Abstract Painting, 1963

Shunning the subjective in favour of an objective surface, the need for a code to turn to in order to define a depersonalisation of the auteur-artist, is developed by Wade Guyton through printing techniques which, with their objectivity, endorse a vaporisation of the ego. Guyton belongs to the generation of American artists who came after Neo-Geo and its arbitrary ways. A generation that grew up having to tackle the consequences of a post-modernity that was weak and alluring, reproducible and manipulable by printing techniques and re-appropriation.

F. Menna, La linea analitica dell arte moderna. Le figure e le icone, Turin, Einaudi, 2001. p. 68 (1st ed. Turin 1975) G. C. Argan. Reinhardt: la percezione non percepita, in Data no. 10, 1973, pp. 28-33.
30 31


Fig. 18 Wade Guyton Untitled, 2007

Guyton creates abstract images with inkjet printers, using the machine to achieve the total negation of the subject and its dialectic. This reintroduces the concept of the original through the impossibility of reproducing mechanical errors that leave their signs and scratches on the texture of the canvas. Machine error is the depersonification of the subjective act in Mondrian, who scattered residuality within his controlled grids. Theosophical value is replaced by an allegorical vision that is an expression of convention. Through the duration of convention, in this sense the use of stereotyped techniques, such as printers, shows the loss of identity of the individual and the obsolescence of mass-production techniques in popular society, revealing the political background of communication mechanisms. Gerhard Richter revives abstraction through the cold separation of photography, by working on a form of subjectivity that attempts to exclude emotional involvement. On this subject, it is worth noting the relationship between the satellite photograph of the border between Saudi Arabia and Yemen, and Richters painting. Here it can be seen how the photographic model of the painting applies what we might call a pictorial scan, which is flat and cold in its analytical precision. Richters paintings never celebrate the artist-auteur, but if anything attempt to ensure he is forgotten by playing on the paradox of painting as objectivity.

Fig. 19 Gerhard Richter Abstract Painting, 1999

Fig. 20 Empy Quarte, border with Arabia Saudita and Yemen

The objectivity of the sensible datum is one of the key aspects of minimalism that Robert Ryman adopts as a parameter for reflection on the material. He brings this about in a process where the melting away of the auteur is brought about through the objectivity of the material. Ryman uses different techniques on different supports, building up a nomenclature as objectification through variants of the pure visibility of the material. To overcome minimalism we need to await Sol LeWitt and his reflections on conceptual art, which in his work are expressed through the introduction of life not his own, but that of others in the process of building up the work. If it is thought that legitimises a form, then this form must

necessarily be repeatable and, by extension, produced by others. In Sol LeWitt, the weakening of the auteur is characterised by the objectivity of abstract art that the artist perceives as linguistic cohesion, introducing the experience of a broadened meaning that the historical avantgardes considered as a social value. With his wall drawing, Sol LeWitt revived the technique of fresco by reinventing it as an objective, replicable process controlled by a precise grid. Even at its highest level of subjectivity, in the form of graphite the technique that expresses intentionality most immediately and is used as a medium capable of recording a host of subjectivising signs the repeatable format of the project undergoes a shift from Mondrians subjectivity to collective hyper-subjectivity.

Fig. 21 Sol LeWitt Preparation of a wall drawing


2. History Painting The Greek etymon of history is historia which means investigation, research, from stor, a witness, he who has seen. History may be both an objective experience, as in the case of Gerhard Richter, who analyses it through historiography and its parameters, and a subjective experience, linked to memory, as in the case of Luc Tuymans. Recognising the importance of myth, history may also be a cultural experience, as in the work of Anselm Kiefer, or even a social experience that adopts propaganda as a conceptual reason on which to base a painting action, as in Neo Rauch or Juan Manuel Blanes. Lastly, it is important to note the value of history as documentation in the approach of Joseph Beuys, whose event-actions are the premise on which an acceptance of biographical elements is based in art as a tool of expression. Through the figure of the shaman-artist, the subjectivity of biography is developed within the event, celebrating its supercession in a mythical world. Beuys legitimises the condemnation of the figure of Mensch in historical terms, perceiving more the ethical than the aesthetic implications of this condemnation even in an artistic discourse, theorising in an attempt to reconcile history as art which Beuys, the fisher of souls, sees as the ethical reason for art. Here, in no uncertain terms, Beuys appears to recall Nietzsche in Untimely Meditations, with a definition of critical history as one that needs man in as much as he suffers and needs to be free in other words, the type of history that emerges from an act of freedom with regard to the past: Here it becomes clear how a third method of analysing the past is quite often necessary for human beings, alongside the monumental and the antiquarian: the critical method [...] A person must have the power and from time to time use it to break a past and to dissolve it, in order to be able to live. He manages to do this by

dragging the past before the court of justice, investigating it meticulously, and finally condemning it.32

Fig. 22 Joseph Beuyss Action Piece, 1972

Gerhard Richter revises history painting by working on the recent past of Germany and applying historiographical categories to it. Richters painting practice is also fortified by the Atlas, on which the artist works in parallel with his painting discourse as a work in progress. The Atlas is a historical memory which is objective, since it is in all, but it is also subjective since it is in each. It is thus a research designed to objectivise an experience, as is the case in painting, which attempts to objectivise reality by starting out from the paradox of its fiction. The historiographical reference is conveyed through a dialogue with photography, in which painting attempts to deny and translate itself. Richter adopts photographic rendering as a parameter through the historiographical model required for objectivity.Historiographical objectivity created through photographic rendering is conferred upon Richters painting as the crisis of painting itself.


F. Nietzsche, op. cit.


The clear, objective exposure of Richters paintings takes place in canonical ways that highlight the public dimension of history. We could say that Richters research revolves around the translatability of the subject as objectivity. The problem of objectivisation is partly tackled by Richter through his many interviews, which reveal the importance of the sharing of knowledge and the presumption of its objectivity. The problem of the narrator and of his transparency is of prime importance in considerations about history painting. Reflecting on the studies carried out by the French structuralist linguist mile Benveniste, Louis Marin states that: for history painting to achieve perfect transparency of representation of what was represented, it was necessary not only for the linear perspective to reduce the viewers (and the painters) body to a theoretical point, but also that this point, from which the painting itself was seen, should place the viewer (and the painter) in a position similar to that of the narrator with regard to the story told: that of a witness of the objectivity of the story of which the painting is a representation. And it is precisely in this that we find the historical (or narrative) mode of enunciation as opposed to that of discourse [...] the narrator does not intervene in the historical narrative.33 The framing of the painting is thus the semiotic condition of its visibility.34

33 34

L. Marin, op. cit. p.229 L. Marin, op. cit. p. 158


Fig. 23 Gerhard Richter Beerdigung Funeral, 1988

While Gerhard Richter is recent history, Anselm Kiefer is the distant past. Anselm Kiefers reflections on Nazism came through a study of materials that focus on ruin, decadence, and a weight that is symbolic and not just physical. Expressionism and Romanticism are adopted as benchmarks for reflections on German history, for they see in legend an anchor for objectivising historical trauma through the experience of the individual.

Fig. 24 Anselm Kiefer, Jai vu le pays du brouillard, jai mang le coeur du brouillard, 1997

As an aspect of our interpretation of history, memory, the model adopted by the Belgian painter Luc Tuymans, who uses formal elements such as the small format, which best

reflects the mental side of historical reconstruction, brings about a subjectivisation of the archived document. The archive and research precede painting, which vividly appears played out on fragments, with a degree of mimesis that gives priority to a sense of obsolescence and removal. As a model on which to build a historical analysis that has direct impact on society, propaganda finds one of its most powerful expressions in the work of the Uruguayan painter Juan Manuel Blanes, who was born in 1830 and died in 1901. In his El Juramento de los Treinta y Tres Orientales, Blanes painted a picture that was to be of fundamental importance for national sentiment in Uruguay, and a version of events that was actually idealised, but eventually became official. He shifts the time of the landing from night to a more romantic dawn, and quite probably even the name of the beach has been changed to make it more evocative: some historians maintain that the beach where the landing took place was originally called Graseada, for it was here that fat was extracted from livestock, while it is now known as Agraciada (graceful). The aim was to obtain a more effective portrayal of the oath made by the so-called thirty-three orientals libertadores who left Argentina to liberate Uruguay, which had fallen under the dominion of Brazil so as to reflect on propaganda as tangible reality and not just as an ideal representation. Also the choice of the number 33 is a partial mystification of reality, and indeed the sources differ as to the exact number and debate became so fierce that, in 1946, the historian Jacinto Carranza published a research paper entitled Cuntos eran los Treinta y Tres?, in which he demonstrated the existence of at least seventeen different lists with the names of the libertadores. It is quite probable that the number 33 was chosen because it was the highest level of the Los Caballeros Orientales Freemasonry lodge to which all the libertadores belonged. Every word of the title of this painting contains some form of mystification,

for those who made the oath were not even oriental (in other words, inhabitants of the eastern provinces of Argentina), for there were also some Argentineans from the island of Paran on the expedition, together with some Paraguayans. The letter to argue the case, written as an official, political request to bend reality in terms of representation, shows how Blaness painting was an incredible conceptual experience that did indeed change the official history of Uruguay.

Fig. 25 Juan Manuel Blanes El Juramento de los Treinta y Tres Orientales, 1877


3. Narration Narration comes from the word narrer which means to make known from gnarus, expert. Gnarigare means to purge, and contains the word igare which is action, to do. Narration takes place within the dialectic of the subjectiveobjective dyad. Before 1400, narration took the form of a horizontal sequence in which horizontality was the objectivity of time in its sequence of events.With the introduction of perspective, there was a shift towards a subjectivity which is that of the symbolic plane, in which Panofsky sees the form of perspective art.Perspective makes it possible to objectivise subjectivity. The narration of the Nativity as a succession of events, for example, was introduced by placing the preceding scenes in perspective and showing the various characters on the different stages of their journey, thus constructing a narrative based on a symbolic representation, whereas the narrative prior to the fifteenth century had been developed horizontally.35

Fig. 26 Gentile da Fabriano The Adoration of the Magi, 1423

Cf. Meyer Schapiro, Tra Einstein e Picasso, spazio-tempo, Cubismo, Futurismo, Milan, Christian Marinotti Edizioni, 2003. p.111 ff. (1st ed. New York 2000)


A similar horizontal sequence can be said to be objective. Here it is useful to think of the horizontal sequence as a succession of photo stills. In photography, the focus is on a single plane and this requires the elements to be brought onto the same horizontal plane selected for the photograph. The limitation of cinema is precisely in the horizontal nature of the shot, which means that it always needs to convey the narrative on a symbolic plane. One interesting attempt at this is that of Andrei Tarkovsky, who attempts to reintroduce into the cinematographic shot the characteristics of narration by means of a perspective representation, as we can see in this picture taken from Sacrifice (1986).

Fig. 27 Andrei Tarkovsky Sacrifice, film still, 1986

In the last episode of The Decameron, Pier Paolo Pasolini too reintroduces symbolic narration, by reconstructing Giottos intuitive perspective. The vertical narration that is brought about through perspective has been developed by verbal art forms such as performance. Through the flexibility of speech, performance introduces a typically prospective-style symbolic

Fig. 28 Pier Paolo Pasolini The Decameron, film still, 1971

dimension bringing a number of particular points of view of the image and sound narrative into the action.

Fig. 29 Tris Vonna Mitchell Tall Tales and Short Stories, 2007

Michael Kirbys definition of happening is particularly fitting: a form of reality in which various a-logical elements, including scenic action devoid of origin, are deliberately assembled and arranged into a compartmentlike structure. It is interesting to note in contemporary art how some artists work on narration as a combinatory process. In Peter Doig the narration is subjective, while in Gerhard Richters 4900 Colors, it is objective. The work is structured as follows: 196 panels, each of

which consists of 25 squares. Each individual spray-painted enamel square measures 9.7 x 9.7 cm and each panel of 25 squares is supported by Alu-Dibond. The panels can be arranged in 11 core configurations (each using all 196 panels), ranging from multiple smaller grid combinations of various sizes to just one large-scale work. The order of the coloured squares is based on chance, having been generated randomly by a computer programme. The 11 configurations were selected by Richter and there is no hierarchy among them.36 The narration refers to a potential development within the institution, bringing itself into close relationship with it through the exhibition event. By introducing the institution as its guarantor, Richter shifts the attention towards the process of construction. The idea of institutional responsibility will be examined in the chapter on exhibitions and I am personally involved in it, with a number of projects that extend the work out as a succession of events within the institutional space. Peter Doigs narration is however subjective, for it works on the combinatory process behind the creation of science fiction, which mixes up fantastical and real elements with the freedom of an invented tale.Doig starts out from individual scenes that, all together, create the overall view of a fantastical landscape.Peter Doigs conceptual rationale his model is the fairytale. Given structure by its narrator, the story is of a hero who leaves his village and finds himself in a fantastical landscape where Peter Doig is the narrator. In this case, it is a homodiegetic structure in which the narrator is present in the story as a character who observes and is observed.




4. Landscape Landscapes have been approached in two different ways, depending on the inclinations of the subject. A subjective relationship of the auteur-artist with nature refers to a psychological dimension in which the landscape is experienced with immediacy, since the model it takes from is based on emotion or uses emotivity as a formalising parameter. The objectifying relationship is based on a cold model with desubjectifying characteristics that attempt to filter out, and thus detach, the subject from the motif represented. For Canaletto, it is the magic lantern in other words, a machine while for Czanne it is geometry (this would certainly be worth closer examination but the filter of the cone, the cylinder, and the sphere are a powerful form of dogma, even though filtered through optical perception, which makes close reference to the psychological relationship), for Georges Seurat it is science, for Gerhard Richter and Neo Rauch it is history seen as objectivity (of historiography in the former, of propaganda in the latter), for Giorgio de Chirico it is initially metaphysics and later quotation, and for Roy Lichtenstein it is comics. On the subject of trompe loeil, see the considerations of Louis Marin in his essay on representation.37 The psychological aspect has adopted a number of models: myth for Anselm Kiefer, fairytales for Peter Doig, religion for Vincent Van Gogh, memory for Luc Tuymans, the fantastical and marvellous for the Surrealists (one need only think of the enigmas of language in Ren Magritte), and emotions for the Fauves. For Chaim Soutine and Edward Munch it is the existential aspect, for Claude Monet and Camille Pissarro it is the impression, for William Turner light, for David Hockney decoration, for the Futurists speed, and for An-


L. Marin, op. cit.


dreas Erikson electricity and landscapes on aluminium. 5. Portraits The portrait is subjectifying when the model refers to the object of observation, establishing a special, direct relationship between the observer and the observed, based on psychological preconditions which are linked to the particular nature of the empathetic encounter. Memory, sexuality, the present existential time, the symbolic, and observation lead the subject to transcend the object of observation in itself as a psychological act.This involves subjectifying characteristics in the use of matter, which often appears as a scatological, residual event. What is the relationship between the portrait and time? With the use of photography as the mediation of experience, it is a recent past in Gerhard Richter, the distant past in Luc Tuymans, and a present, existential time in Francis Bacon. The direct relationship with the sitter is experienced through the sacred in Van Gogh, space in Picasso, sexuality in Egon Schiele, the symbolic in Gustav Klimt, and geometry in Paul Czanne.The flatness of the painting surface appears as objectivity in Gerhard Richter, who makes historiography the model for his work, in Roy Lichtenstein, who refers to printed matter, in Andy Warhol and Elizabeth Peyton, who use the tabloid as their model, and in Glenn Brown, who is actually a separate case in view of his reference to the history of art, but who basically flattens everything in his pictorial scanning. John Currin refers to the tabloid and avoids flatness, even though he remains in the sphere of the desubjectifying, since pictorial residuality has mimetic characteristics in representing the make-up of the American upper class. Elizabeth Peyton reintroduces the subjectivity that appears as an at times uncontrolled fluidity within the objectivity of the flat surface of the painting/tabloid. It takes

the form of little drippings and a pictorial rendering of a pop icon or a Western monarch shown in small formats in oils, which refer back to the spatial characteristics of magazines.

Fig. 30 Gerard Richter Confrontation 3, 1988

Fig. 31 Elizabeth Peyton Alizarin Kurt, 1995

Willem De Kooning works on the portrayed in psychological terms, just as Georg Baselitz uses the upturning of the painting to show how everything in his work must be interpreted in terms of the independence of the painting from what it portrays. A recent atlas of images by David Hockney offers a stunning juxtaposition of a portrait by Vincent van Gogh and a Byzantine mosaic of Christ Pantocrator.38 The affinities are clear. One possible interpretation can be found in the biography of Vincent van Gogh, who grew up in a very religious family. His father was a preacher and he too beD. Hockney. Secret Knowledge. Rediscovering the Lost Technique of the Old Masters, Singapore, Penguin, 2001


came a preacher before being sent away for his excessive vehemence. Van Gogh developed his faith through painting, and the art of mosaic acts as a symbolic bridge between God and man. By making the sacred the model of representation in his portraits and landscapes, van Gogh thus sought his own pathway to faith. 6. Still Life Still life is a modern, post-Baroque term. The ancients called it xenia the gift of hospitality referring to inanimate objects such as the produce of the land that the good landlord used to give raw to his guests. Giorgio Morandi works on a frozen time, a life stopped in the present continuous tense and structured on the repetitive compulsion of a few chosen objects. Repetition is performed as a search for synthesis, not only of the object but also of the composition of which the object is an element, creating a vision through representation, and building up its premises on an immediate relationship with the object. A relationship based on the present tense, which is not filtered by significant alternative means. The introduction of mass-circulation techniques introduced by Warhol through Pop Art puts an end to this immediacy in favour of a filter that, through its particular coordinates, makes the motif abstract. It restores it as a reproducible version, altering the subjectifying relationship of the auteur-artist in the objectification of his model. An example of this is Warhols silk screen printing. Morandi used repetition to achieve synthesis through time, with the subjectivity of the author consisting of a soft residuality based on an infinite and thus motionless present. In Warhol, on the other hand, it acts as the objectification of a popular mass practice which requires only an anti-subjective, and thus collective and Pop, repetition to express itself. The filter is communication, whereas for Morandi it was a (perma65

nently present) historicity which appeared through the dust of the object. The direct and indirect, subjectifying and desubjectifying relationship established by the conceptual model through particular standards filters our perception by leading towards one of the two dialectic fronts. Jeff Koons, on the other hand, realises that it is not he who should make his still lifes, because in a mass culture with its aesthetic bases resting on the potential captivation of the public, the relationship with still lifes must be cold and planned in order to be communicative. All that is needed to transport the desire of a product into painting is a pretty photo taken from the world of advertising and painted in a large format by his assistants.

Fig. 32 Jeff Koons Jungle, 2005

Fig. 33 Giorgio Morandi Still Life, 1959



1. Standard / Derived A standard format is indicated as the size (length by height) of a support. The A4 and its derivations are the international standard, together with North American formats. The standard format refers to a cold, desubjectivising dimension. With regard to the capacity of the observer, and thus also of the auteur-artist, when reference is made to the work as a material space outside of himself which he dominates by means of sight, or by which he may himself be dominated we can distinguish different formats, which correspond to different spatial relationships with which the artist and observer need to deal. Below the size of a metre, we can talk of a mental space. If we consider the work of Giorgio Morandi, rather than considering the use of Minkovski space in Cubism, we can see how, in the history of painting, this type of spatial relationship has produced works with a conceptual reference that could not be related to the physicality of the artist but rather to his ability to formulate mental content. Above the metre, we have a neutral space or a physical space, depending on the magnitude. In the case of Wade Guyton or Gerhard Richter, two artists who worked on the depersonalisation of the subject, it is referred to as neutral, while in the case of Jackson Pollock and of abstract expressionism in general, we talk of physical space. Physical space is strong and, even though it may refer to the body of the artist and to his own subjectivity, it is perceived in monumental terms. Monumentality includes the physical space occupied by the public. In subjective terms, it can refer to a desire for power, as in the works

of Jackson Pollock, and in those of Katharina Grosse, who intervenes directly on the architecture of the institutions, thereby bringing about a large-scale development of the hypothesis of going outside the painting, as formulated by Lucio Fontana. In inter-subjective terms, it was to be Sol LeWitt who would introduce renewal with his wall drawings, brought about by a multiplicity of subjects on an established format. The experiences of breaking out of the standard format introduced questions about a space linked to the conceptual nature of the work, which we shall refer to as derived space. A derived space is an absorbing and culturally receptive entity that depends directly on the relationships that are brought about in order to define it. One example might be that of the relationship with the exterior, as we see in Katharina Grosses approach, in which art invades the space of life and painting thus becomes a second skin that envelops the environment, with the experience of the auteur acquiring the significance of a necessary creative presence.

Fig. 34 Katharina Grosse at work


Frank Stella, on the other hand, emphasises the independence of form from the auteur-artist. Through his lines the auteur-artist delineates space as a geometrical tension in which it is the composition that proclaims its spatial extension by going beyond the limits of representation that are to be found in the standard format. The format is brought about by the new spatial nature of the work, which proclaims itself to be autonomous from the subjectivity of the auteur.

Fig. 35 Frank Stella Madinat as - Salam I, 1970

Relations with gravity introduced a new relationship into painting by using dripping, allowing industrialgrade colour to drip as the expression of a form of subjectivity built up on psychological bases.

Fig. 36 Jackson Pollock at work


Robert Morris too used gravity, but as the expression of a form of objectivity. He did so in order to enter into a relationship with the environment and thus also with the form of the work, which would both become fundamental for the viewers experience.

Fig. 37 Robert Morris Untitled, 1967-8

Through her fallen paintings, Lynda Benglis takes to its extreme the premise of minimalist sculpture as objectivity on the one hand and as psychological gestural expressiveness on the other, with later developments focusing on themes of the body. The artist herself says: I never thought of myself as a feminist. Im a woman, and I act upon that premise, but it was more that I was interested in my approach to materials as a woman. Perhaps only a woman could have thought of the idea of pouring latex, for instance, in the sense of painting as something pouring from the body. By means of gesture, Lynda Benglis transforms painting into an abstract pattern of a psychological nature, located like a sculpture in space.

Fig. 38 Lynda Benglis, Blatt, 1969

In my practice, this direct relationship with space has worked towards an overcoming of the confines of the support. In Gravity Painting (2010), gravity gives the painting form through its relationship with the space that takes it in. The format is independent from the subjectivity of the auteur as it is a consequence of gravity unfiltered by subject, but rather defined in objective terms by the machine that pours the colour. Through the lesson imparted by Pollock, it reinvents dripping as a possible new way of overcoming the subjective. 39 Later on, painting returns to the paradigms of representation through the image which moves away from the minimalist tradition of painting. The spatial nature of Gravity Painting is later shaped by the institution that shows the work, thus reintroducing time and experience into the absoluteness of the image. The signs of the previous installations remain as deforming scars that record the life of the work and its direct relationship with the space.
Cf. G. Iovane, A. Pace, Broken Fall, ascesa e caduta nell arte, Milan, Silvana Editoriale, 2010, p.115


Fig. 39 Paolo Chiasera Gravity Painting 2, 2010

When it is the result of a number of actions, a work can include a number of formats and thus different relationships with space, and consequently with the viewer. The processuality comes about through a dynamic form of internal structural relationship, by activating a circuit that defines the various moments in the narration. The shift from a previous to a successive stage is structured on precise premises, which can be found in a correspondence between the elements that make up the various passages. Processuality has been developed by artists like Simon Starling and Joseph Beuys, and I too tackle it in my own painting process. The correspondence between the various types of spatial relations in the work can be clarified by going back to the logicalmathematical experience and to its possible translation into art. The space formed by the work can be considered as vector space. In 1909 the German mathematician David Hilbert introduced a new model of space, known as Hilbert space, which revolutionised the potential of investigation into the concept of harmony and harmonic analysis. In its most literal sense, Hilbert space is a vector space. A norm, transformed into a distance, is set upon a linear structure, with an orthogonality referred to as an internal or scalar product, or sesquilinear product, such that, in the process of transition to the limit, contiguity is ensured in terms of positiveness, and direction, establishing the develop72

ment of function. In informal terms, we could say that is a function any way of associating one, and only one, object to each element in a given set, assigning values of reciprocity to the elements of different sets.40

Fig. 40

in applications, the elements of a Hilbert space (vectors) often consist of a succession of functions associated by type or classes of equivalence. It is necessary to identify possible forms of reciprocity between the parts within the genre, the technique, or the model and, upon these associations, to build up a grammar that legitimises the change and its formalisation. If we think of the process of the work, of how the various stages come about, and thus also of the possible formats, we can see how the revelation of art leads to studies involving harmonious analysis as a premise on which to construct the continuity of the work, which is formalised in accordance with an internal logic. One example of a shift towards the limit is offered in the chapter concerning parameters.

P. Casalegno, M. Mariani, Teoria degli insiemi. Unintroduzione, Rome, Carrocci, 2004, p. 54




I am about to have principles and a method for my vocation. Paul Czanne 1. Watson and Crick Watson and Cricks Double Helix On 25 April 1953, James Watson and Francis Cricks discovery of the structure of DNA led to the dawn of the genomic era. In their article in Nature, they presented a model of the double-helix structure of the DNA model which they had discovered at the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge. We wish to suggest a structure for the salt of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) were the first words of this historic article. Francis Harry Compton Crick was a particle physicist who had been put to work on the construction of radar and naval mines during the war. In October 1951, Crick started working at the Cavendish Laboratory, the famous physics department of the University of Cambridge, where he met James Dewey Watson. The two embarked upon an intense intellectual adventure that, in less than a year and a half, led to them working out the structure of DNA. James Dewey Watson was a keen ornithologist who had graduated in zoology. During a conference in 1951 at the Stazione Zoologico in Naples, Watson met a New Zealander called Maurice Wilkins, one of the worlds greatest experts on x-ray crystallography. On that occasion he showed a faded photograph of the deoxyribonucleic acid molecule. The best pictures of DNA in the world

come from his laboratory even though it was not he who took them, but a researcher of great talent, Rosalind Elsie Franklin. At the age of twenty-six, Franklin had already published five articles and completed her PhD course. She started working on x-ray diffraction and immediately demonstrated her genius and skill, and indeed she was one of the first scientists to use x-rays not for crystals that to study complex materials such as biological molecules. Franklin entered Kings College in London under the supervision of Wilkins and, even though the hierarchy of their relationship was to lead to some misunderstandings, Franklin considered herself to be an independent researcher and considered the study of DNA as her own research project as did Wilkins, who considered the young woman as his assistant. In the early 1950s much was already known about DNA, including the exclusive role it plays in genetic material: it is the only substance capable of conveying all the information required for creating life. In the late 1940s, DNA was known to consist of a series of bases, molecules in the form of a ring that belong to two different families: the pyrimidine thymine (T) and cytosine (C), with a single ring, and the purine adenine (A) and guanine (G) formed of two rings. It was known that the molecule also contains a sugar (deoxyribose) and groups of phosphoric acid. And that the nucleus of DNA is associated with protein. What was not known was what it looks like and how it brings about its amazing hereditary function. Let us have a look at some of the discoveries made prior to Watson and Crick, which were fundamental steps on the way to the discovery of the structure of DNA. As early as 1944, Astbury had suggested that the bases were piled up one on top of the other, like a pack of cards, adhering to each other with flat surfaces. The period of 0.34 nm had been interpreted as the thickness of each base, and thus the

distance between two adjacent bases. In 1949 the Austrian biochemist Erwin Chargaff had demonstrated that the composition in DNA bases could vary widely from species to species, but that it always obeyed a fundamental rule: in every DNA molecule the (gigantic) number of molecules of adenine was exactly the same as the number of thymine molecules, and the same was true for the molecules of cytosine and guanine. In 1951 the American chemist Linus Pauling discovered that one of the basic scaffoldings of proteins was helical in shape, and sensed that DNA might contain something similar. By using x-ray scattering techniques, he proposed a model of the structure of a protein, collagen. He had correctly interpreted a particular arrangement of marks on the diffractogram as the sign of a helical structure (the alpha-helix). A similar arrangement of marks on the diffractogram created by Rosalind Franklin (the helical cross) had convinced Crick that also DNA must be a helical molecule. In 1952 Watson and Crick were told to stop working on molecular models of the structure of DNA. But of course the two continued their work on the quiet. Watson played a key role in the discovery of the pairing of nucleobases, which is the basis for the very structure and function of DNA. Crick solved the mathematical equations that govern the structure of the double helix. Together they had some brilliant insights, understanding for example that the DNA molecule consists of two helical chains, as Franklin had intuited, but that they went in opposite directions. They sensed that each of the two filaments was a cast of the other: each thymine base linked up to one of adenine, and each cytosine base to a guanine base, which elegantly explained Chargaffs discovery. They showed that the complementarity of the two filaments allows DNA to copy itself during the reproduction of cells, thus ensuring their heredi76

tary transmission. In 1953, Crick and Wilkins used a simple assembly of cardboard, wire, and balls to create a model of the structure of DNA, based on a sketch by Cricks wife, the painter Odile Speed. This model had a clear grounding in theory: two filaments of a skeleton consisting of sugar molecules (deoxyribose) are joined together by molecules of phosphoric acid and wrap around a central axis to form a (double) helix. The bases project from this, each one binding to the opposite one with a high degree of specificity (A only to T, and G only to C), thus keeping the two filaments together. Once the model was created, even though it still contains some theoretical guesswork (which later proved correct), they soon realised that it was too pretty not to be true. In 1962 Watson, Crick and Wilkins received the Nobel Prize for Medicine, for having created the first precise model of the structure of DNA.


2 . Theory and Development The model is a form of translation or transfer of noesis, which is the intuitive, pre-discursive knowledge that Edmund Husserl refers to as a set of acts of understanding addressed to the object of experience, such as perception, imagination and memory. The model is a noematic construction of the Aristotelian meaning of the perceived thing. Thought as opposed to sensation. The model draws its considerations on a mnemonic level, once again linking noesis to experience through the development of concept. The concept may be simple if it translates in one direction only, as may be the case in language, or complex, if simple concepts are united or disunited through the unity of thought in a unitary, affirmative assertion.41

Fig. 41

Aristotle, Interpretation I; Metaphysics IX 10, On the Soul III6


If we examine the steps that led to the construction of the model of DNA, it is interesting to note how observation and the visual model were fundamental in the formal establishment of the structure. Connections, compactness and continuity are built up in a series of steps based on the verification of analogies as relationships of equivalents, as we can sum up in the following chart. For example, we can replace the DNA with A and collagen with B. If we take two topological spaces, A and B, we can see that under certain conditions element A has some affinities with B.


Collagen Astbury Chargaff

DNA Fig. 42

If the A elements correspond entirely or partly with the B elements, it will be possible for A to go through B and reconstitute itself as A. The decision about the conditions is given by the perceptive grid we adopt, which means it depends on a cultural position. I recognise A if it responds to the same laws with which I perceive B as B. I, subject, perceive you as A if I can identify you as such through the categories of B. To perceive A, I must include B, invalidating the identity of A, only to recover it as A. B is a threshold.

In the modern age,42 the threshold is language, in other words, the set that I use to recognise the elements. By means of its structure, I identify A with its representation. The representation segments the identity of A into a series of analogies built up through B, in such a way that B remains B. If everything refers to B, I must necessarily guarantee its structuring in A, for otherwise I lose the references I need for the representation of A. Remaining on an abstract level and continuing to talk of A and B and of the relationships which mean that A can identify itself in B in order to return to being A once more, two possibilities emerge, depending on the deforming body. B may remain static or become deformed. If B stays the same, it means that through my own cultural constitution I can identify enough analogies between A and B so that they remain the same in the mutual relationships given by the historical principles of present and past culture that, through progress, have sufficiently fractalised language to bring about reciprocity.

Fig. 43

The next chart shows the possibility that I cannot identify A with B, unless a change C is brought about in B so that A will be A and B always B.

According to Michel Foucault there are three epistemological ages: Renaissance, classic, and modern. The modern age has its roots in the Kantian watershed, but the episteme is addressed to the subject as the object of perception. Cf. Michel Foucault, Le mots e les choses, Paris, 1966.


Fig. 44

A = A (A + C = B + C) in other words, A is different from B except for the presence of C, on condition that C acts in such a way as to make A = A (A+C = B+C) C must act differently on A and B in order to balance them at a point of encounter. Who decides the values of C? A and B C is C if A+C = B + C such that A = B C is the interpretant through time, which is to say the future cultural support. The introduction of time means that we can continue to recognise A and B in a relationship of mutual representation of sustainability.43 Now let us replace A and B with two images. The analogies between the images are based on the restructuring of the relationships of sustainability within a principle of reciprocity. The language self-generates in time as the relationship of reciprocity between A and B which, through their categories, recognise it as such. In the image we can thus see a series of shifts and thresholds on which to base observations that are themselves based on the construction of these images and language, and as fragments of a lost identity that is constantly being restored in the flow of time.Observation brings to light the poten-

Time, which ensures the immobility of language, has another effect, apparently contradictory to the rst: that of changing linguistic signs more or less rapidly and, in a sense, one can speak of both the immutability and mutability of the sign.(Ferdinand de Saussure, op. cit.)


tial resemblance of things, and their action as fractals. The reflection on A comes from the verifiability of the qualities of B in A, making it possible to understand the form of A with regard to its transfer into B as an underlying skin that shows the relationship of continuity between the two topological spaces that are the cup and the torus. An image can contain three levels of interpretation that correspond to what it is when it appears, what it becomes through our culture, and what it will be in time.Through iconology we can determine the significance of an image through a signifier, which is a sign-based system that corresponds to it in a form of reciprocity given by the context of encounter. This is established by the linguistic bases on which the relationships of reciprocity that guarantee the signification are revealed. Studying this relationship of equivalency means analysing the form and its apparitions through time on a semantic form of base that guarantees the continuous relationship between the parts in that passage at the limit on which topological spaces are built.

Fig. 45


Coming back to the question of DNA, in their research Watson and Crick dealt with various levels of interpretation, interaction and understanding of the problem. On each occasion they did so by creating analogies based on continuous transfers of A the DNA in relation to a variable B, which gradually modified the form and substance of A. Observing the buried relationships of things introduces a morphology of the image that, over time, enters into a relationship with language in a constant modification of its connectivities. It is the conception of the Internet as a generator of versions in Oliver Laric and Aleksandra Domanovics www.vvork. com project, or Seth Prices idea of work as a version of itself, or as pure intentionality to be archived in Robert Morriss Card File (1965). Like Derridas Argonaut, the image takes flight, as in the lifecycle of a butterfly: a hybridisation and metamorphosis in which one is transformed into nothing other than oneself. An observation that leads back to Goethes Metamorphosis of Plants: I must admit and suppose myself, without even knowing how I am made, I study myself all the time without ever grasping myself and others, and yet we cheerfully go on, ever on.44 A visual model based on a critical Kantian relationship, in which the subject is at the centre and the world is at its service: with its categories and pure forms of intuition, it is the subject that organises the entire set of knowledge. With the Copernican watershed introduced by Immanuel Kant, the relationship between man, in the Foucaultian sense in the radical changes of the episteme and nature changes radically. Critical philosophy introduces a new perspective: we no longer ask how things are in themselves, but how they must be made in order to be known by me, sub-


J.W. Goethe, op. cit.


ject. This takes place through the subjects faculties of knowing and applying categories, of being able to distinguish truth from falsehood, of desiring not what is there but what we would like there to be, intentionalising our practical actions and the faculty of pleasing and displeasing. Heidegger pointed out how the fundamental event of the modern age is the conquest of the world as picture. The word picture now means the structured image that is the creature of mans producing which represents and sets before.45 Time thus becomes, together with space, an a priori form of sensibility. If human beings were not able to perceive the passing of time, they would also not be able to perceive the sensible world and its objects which, even though unknowable in themselves, are nevertheless located in space. The existence of the physical world is perceived and ordered by the subject through the Kantian a priori, and what is located in space is then ordered in time. As Alexandre Kojve pointed out in his The Idea of Death in the Philosophy of Hegel, Knowledge is the the adequate and complete understanding of itself i.e., of the progressive revelation of the Real and of Being by Speech of the Real and Being which engender, in and by their dialectical movement, the Speech that reveals them [...] which was initially only a natural World formed of separate and disparate entities, an incoherent richness, in which there was no reflection, no discursive knowledge, no articulate self-consciousness.46 Hegel defines philosophy as his own era understood through concept. It will be history, as an understanding of the significance of his own age, that will express the truth. The problem shifts from nature to culture.
M. Heidegger, Off the Beaten Track, orig. title: Holzwege. Ital. ed.: Milan, Bompiani, 2002 (1st ed. Frankfurt am Main 1950) p. 114 46 A. Kojve, op. cit.


The difficulty that, in the modern era, is encountered by a conception of historical culture as a systematic and progressive experience, in which the death of an ultimate truth has been lost with the death of Nietzsches God, and which has also decreed the death of man, encourages a reflection on our assimilation of this historical culture as the tragedy of its memory, as a conflictual Apollonian and Dionysian polarity, as a tragic, nonredeeming circular experience is what Aby Warburg later illustrated with his Mnemosyne Atlas. He did so through a reflection on Nachleben, on the survival that represents the tragic in memory, including the study of the Florentine milieu as a substantial element and as a prerequisite for understanding Renaissance art and for understanding the latency of their images, and of their phantasmatic tensions through which the Atlas becomes a means of research. This discovery led Aby Warburg to understand how it is necessary to pass from the history of art (Kunstgeschichte) to the science of culture (Kulturwissenschaft).47 Here the interpretation of Florentine Renaissance portraits using Warburgs Kulturwissenschaft method is enlightening: an interweaving through time an over-determination of ancient pagan magic (a survival of Roman imago), of mediaeval and Christian liturgy (the use of the ex-voto as a form of effigy), and the artistic and intellectual data peculiar to the fifteenth century.48 The unnamed science formulated by Aby Warburg was later defined as iconology by his successors, who attempted to lead the phantom back into a logos. Kulturwissenschaft, developed by Gottfried Boehm, who introduced multidisci-

G. Didi-Huberman, L immagine insepolta, Aby Warburg, la memoria dei fantasmi e la storia dell arte, orig. title: L image survivante. Histoire de lart et temps des fantomes selon Aby Warburg, Turin, Bollati Boringhieri, 2006, p. 49 (1st ed. Paris 2002) G. Didi-Huberman, op. cit. p. 49 48


plinary research characterised by its iconic shift, moved in the opposite direction, abandoning the paralysing dimension of knowing certainty.49 This aimed to move out of the logos in favour of an all-encompassing opening up of visual power. Studying the image means studying language and its phenomenology as the relationship between form and its content in a traumatic progress that, over time, reveals its phantoms in an eel soup with no fixed form, as evasive and infinite as Warburgs Atlas. The cultural support we referred to as C (Fig. 46) establishes that things are made through human labour, that work is knowledge and that it is structured as a transcendent support (here I refer to Carlo Sinis interpretation of Derridas grammatology) which produces the progress of itself through new combinations of supports. These demand that they themselves be supported by unnatural things on which a new figure of truth can be built. This figure will never be conclusive of itself, but will always refer to the complex of practices that produced it. Practices that become visible only later, through further practices. And here we come back to the example of the Florentine portrait which, as Kulturwissenschaft, reveals itself to be in a state of reciprocity with the wax ex-voti and with the pagan practices in Warburgs Atlas of knowledge. The model is what establishes the dynamics of diffrance,50 a term coined by Jacques Derrida in his criticism to Edmund Husserl, to emphasise how deconstruction is the condition of every structure or code that is historically developed as an intermingling of differences, tarnishing the
G. Boehm, La svolta iconica, Rome, Meltemi, 2009 A term introduced into philosophical debate by J. Derrida in a conference in 1968. It was published in The Margins of Philosophy to indicate the differential play that is at the origin of every signification. Enciclopedia di filosofia, Milan, Garzanti, 2007; for further reading on twentieth century art, cf. B. Buchlo, H. Foster, Y. Alain Bois, R. Krauss Art Since 1900 Thames & Hudson 2004, p. 44 ff.
49 50


purity in the originary complication of the origin, of an initial contamination of the simple, of an inaugural divergence that no analysis could present, or make present in its phenomenon.51 Jacques Derrida points to the movement through diffrance within a relationship between signified and signifier, but the quality of this movement, the quality of the interpretant, still needs to be defined, for it remains excessively anchored in the structural linguistics of Ferdinand de Saussure. In a recent conference, in 2009, Carlo Sini recalled how writing emerged as a debt,52 in Neolithic times. A peasant owns no land but manages it and, through the temple, honours his debt with the land by returning his harvest in the form of a sacrifice. This peasant needs to remember the amount of the debt and does so by inserting some objects, which acquire numerical value inside the amphorae. To distinguish the content of the various terracotta amphorae, he engraves some signs on the outside. The support is not just terracotta for it is a social, cultural, and religious practice.

A = signified B = signifier C = interpretant of the dynamic relationship between A and B through cultural time

Fig. 46
J. Derrida, Le probleme de la genese dans la philosophie de Husserl, Paris, Galile, 1990 52 C. Sini, La scrittura e il debito, conflitto tra culture ed antropologia, Milan, Jaca Books, 2002


Images are closely related to time, and it is no coincidence that Thomas Carlyle talked of Zeitbild (imagetime).53 In this way, the historicity of symbols is recognised, as is their ability to change, but also to grow old and become worn out, like when a splendid fabric ends up as a miserable rag in the dust of oblivion.54

Fig. 47 Domenico Ghirlandaio The Birth of St John The Baptist, detail, 1485-90

53 54

T. Carlyle, Works of Thomas Carlyle, Chapman & Hall, London 1899 G. Didi-Huberman, op. cit. p. 387


B = nymph

C = plate 47 Mnemosyne Atlas

Fig. 48

The figure illustrates how the interpretation of the nymph, a mythological figure who creates a dialectic of vertigo, is obtained by a dialectic between opposing meanings. The tensions of the image are deconstructed by Aby Warburg, who investigates the significant latencies of the images. Ghirlandaios nymph takes her vertigo from a contrast between Judith and Holofernes and the dancing maenad. As Giorgio Agamben points out,

Warburgs discovery is that next to the physiological Nachleben (the persistence of retinal images), there is a historical Nachleben of images, linked to the persistence of their mnestic charge, which turns them into dynamograms... existing as survival.55 Survival based on power relationships between signs. Relationships are established by a structured cultural order, and what is conveyed is its manifestation as a structure that implies a sign-based analysis of systems of signification.The conditions through which understanding is revealed and developed are based on power relationships. For Michel Foucault, the decline of the subject in the modern age is exemplified by the death of God, as theorised by Friedrich Nietzsche. In its non-identification as being opposed to God, the subject has gradually eliminated itself, re-establishing an opposition on which to define itself for what it is through the study of itself. By referring solely to itself, the axis of the episteme has shifted its perception from a dominant subject to a perception of itself through language. This takes place through an investigation in which disciplines such as anthropology, ethnology, and linguistics push it into second place, as an object of observation.56No longer as a creator, but as a being dominated by a series of power relationships that guarantee his presence as a sign, man knows but is also the object of knowledge in which, according to Foucault, phenomenology is transformed into anthropology. The concept of model refers to the mechanisms and structures that constitute this formulation.The model refers to the various disciplines through which the image has revealed itself and that,
G. Agamben, Nymphae, in Aut Aut 321/322, Milan, Il Saggiatore, 2004, p.58 56 Anthropology is described by Martin Heidegger as an interpretation of man which, fundamentally, already knows what man is, and thus can no longer pose the question of who he is, op. cit. p.135


vice versa, may similarly reveal it in the definition of a renewed form of subjectivity that is built up as a result, thus bringing about a return to knowledge. 3 . New Models Technological development makes it possible to map out new horizons offered by Adobe and 3-D modelling programs. The context is particularly interesting since the origin of these new references is not in some distant past but in the present world. Memory as distant past is cancelled out in favour of an immediate experience of a new constellation of grids and parameters. From Goethes Theory of Colours to Photoshop might be the working slogan of Cory Arcangel (1978), which shows us his brand-new Mac ready for the print.

Fig.49 Cory Arcangel, Photoshop CS: 84 by 66 inches, 300 DPI, RGB, square pixels, default gradient Spectrum, mousedown y=8900 x=15,600, mouse up y=13,800 x=0, 2009 Unique c-print, 84 x 66 inches


From research into form as a real entity to an entity that appears in digital terms, from the set-square to 4-D Cinema appears to be the message of Emanuel Rossettis research that clads donuts with portions of reality. The new grid is a digital one in which subjectivity is unaware and objectivity derives from a series of reproducible settings. A dimension that is developed in terms of form in the experimental space of the monitor and not in the artists living space. Space and time guarantee a level of flexibility that, even though it is not that of the subject that thinks of it, can nevertheless be considered as out of context. This condition leads to a new set of instruments and applications that bypass latemodernist developments by going back to the origin of the avant-gardes, who acknowledged the grammar of their action in terms of a direct relationship with their reference model. And yet the relationship is also different, and not mediated by historic time: Photoshop is now. One proposed approach to digital technologies in art may be that of bringing them back to life in such a way as to return the most powerful capacity to the technological instrument, as defined by the space/time of the artist and its relationships in terms of memory/ oblivion.

Fig. 50 Emanuel Rossetti Untitled, 2010



Everything in nature is modelled on the sphere, the cone, and the cylinder. One must learn to paint these simple figures. Paul Czanne 1. Transfer Everything in nature is modelled on the sphere, the cone, and the cylinder. One must learn to paint these simple figures. With everything in perspective, so that each part of an object or a plane is directed towards a central point. The parallel lines at the horizon express the width, which is an aspect of nature, while the perpendicular lines represent depth. Mans view of nature is more in depth than in surface, hence the need to introduce a sufficient amount of blue into our vibration of light, represented by reds and yellows, in order to give the impression of air.57 With this programme, Paul Czanne undertakes to make the optical-geometrical model a parameter for his painting practice through the figures of the cone, the cylinder, and the sphere. The formal transposition of a model developed from the parameter is the definition of vision. Modern painting can be seen as a development of the parameter through a model, whose inner characteristics have a topological relationship with the structure of six nodes: medium, genre, format, parameter, model, aspect. This premise defines the normed space on which painting practice is based.


P. Czanne, Lettere, ed. Elena Pontiggia, Milan, SE, 1997


On the following pages we shall analyse the formal transposition of Newtons model to the context of my recent project entitled Rotes-Schaulspielhaus and based on a reflection on time. I hope the reader will forgive this self-referential allusion, but I believe that in this case a personal project can be of particular use in developing an idea of transposition on the basis of certain data (my own) rather than mediated historical sources and reinterpretations. Rotes-Schaulspielhaus calls for a work in two acts which aims to produce an image/painting starting out from a public sculpture. The sculpture is a five-part destructuration constructed on the drawing of one of the columns of the Grosses-Schaulspielhaus, the historic Berlin theatre built in 1919 by the architect Hans Poelzig but demolished in 1985. The fundamental idea is that history cannot be effectively conjured up by sculpture, which immediately branches into scenographic fiction. It is this that leads to the need to use materials attributable to the theatre, such as wood, cardboard, and polystyrene, in order to recreate an element of the Grosses-Schaulspielhaus, the historic theatre in Berlin built by the architect Hans Poelzig and later demolished in 1985. But to evoke history more effectively, it is necessary to use the image and its representational filter through painting. The first action was that of a public work which, due to its fragility, may appear in a non-monumental manner, thus making it possible to recapture time and its effects more effectively in terms of gravity. The second task was to fuse the sculptural elements through a painting medium such as turpentine, for this melted the polystyrene in order to obtain an acceleration of time, so as to efface the sculpture and transform what remained of it into a support for the painting. The painting was therefore shown in a showcase which,

with its horizontality, emphasised its age and its survival as a sculpture.

Fig. 51 Paolo Chiasera Rotes Schauspielhaus Ist Act, 2010


2. F = M x A In his introduction to the theory of relativity, Albert Einstein recalled Henri Poincars La science et lhypothse and his studies of the changes in position of bodies brought into contact with a rigid body that defines its potential spatial or affiliated continuations in such a way as to define the body space or, we might say in reference to Rotes Schauspielhaus, the space of the painting through its relationship with the sculpture of which it is a deformation. Isaac Newton came up with the formula F = M x A force = mass x acceleration. Mass moves as a result of the acceleration it receives. Acceleration is information, which is the changing of habits and conformity. The information is filtered through mass. Information is the C element we saw in the chapter on the model. We start out from B, public sculpture, and thus a mass, which I want to transfer to A, the painting, which is a force about which I have information, through C, the turpentine. This, in turn, is the information that comes to me from dividing the sculpture B by the painting A. A is different from B, but C the turpentine is introduced. C acts differently upon A and B and derives from a quality of A which will be used according to the potential offered by B. B is a public sculpture exposed to the deforming force of nature and of the public. Nature works through gravity the leaves that fall and the precipitation in the Berlin winter and the public is able to vandalise the sculpture on show. Through deforming gravity, the turpentine which is a part of set A, the painting will be poured onto B, thus accelerating the disintegration of the sculptural mass.


Fig. 52

The turpentine is the acceleration: the information in our possession. Information C introduces reciprocity between A and B, between the sculpture and painting. The painting portrays the sky, a representation of time which, after the acceleration brought about by the turpentine, continues to flow slowly.

Fig. 53


Fig. 54 Paolo Chiasera Rotes Schauspielhaus, 2010



1. Some notes on exhibition design in painting It is important to redefine the limits and potential of the systems for making the work known, starting out from relationships with museums, galleries, and art fairs, in order to clarify the preconditions for the work. The work enters into an active relationship with the space it is in, which means that the signifier elements modify our perception of the structure on which the work is built. The place is emblematic for it adds and congeals new content in the work, leading this content from the abstract to the concrete level through the relationship that it establishes between the signifiers. With its particular characteristics, the place contributes to the crystallisation of the signified, developing linguistic processes that are brought about by the installation of the work. Dan Graham has reflected a great deal on the emblematic power of communication systems, and even conceives works that are outside of the art system, such as proposals addressed to a publisher. An example of this is Scheme, of 1965, a simple list published in Art Magazine. The artist should clarify the emblematic process that the work brings about when it is placed in one place rather than in another, and how it relates to it, also in terms of the history of the place and with regard to the actual structure of the intentionality behind the work. On this subject, during the Zeitgeist exhibition at the Martin Gropius Bau in Berlin, Georg Baselitz decided to turn his paintings upside-down and hang them outside of the neutralising museum standard, in order to declare war in social terms on a concetion of paint99

ing as a passive decorative phenomenon. His paintings were hung upside-down from the ceiling, thus offering a new interpretation of painting practice in a way that redefined criticism of the discipline and traced out a new, possible development for it.

Fig. 55 Zeitgeist Martin-Gropius Bau, Berlin, 1982-83

Through its own structural characteristics, the work maintains the potentiality of its development in space by choosing the type of relationship that can be established, even going so far as to transform the space in which it has been installed. The spatial and contextual decisions brought about by defining the exhibition area also define the relationship with the viewer. Much has been built on Gestalt (the German word Gestalt58 means form, mindset, representation), which is also referred to as the psychology of form. Exhibition refers to parameters of absoluteness that themselves refer to

Gestalt is a psychological current concerning perception and experience which started up and developed in the early twentieth century in Germany (from the 1910s to the 1930s)


the ideal of body of the spectator, as the definition of a display structured on an immediate perception of the work through the neutrality of the space. The observer enters into contact with the work and his view and experience is thus built up on the model of objectivity of the work, in which the innovative characteristics of the individual are reduced to the very minimum in favour of a collective eye, in which the significations remains entirely contained within the work. Another possibility is that of creating the exhibition in relation to the space, arranging the display in accordance with the conceptual reason of the work, and thus with its model. It is the work that orients its own interpretation through its direct relationship with the space, which plays an active role in the signification. The viewers experience is active, for as it requires a shift away from personal standards of perception and the introduction of an experience based on the interaction of the work with the body and space that the work itself has reinvented.


2. Institutional Responsibility Institutional responsibility takes as its starting point the issues raised by Institutional Critique, as an examination of the hierarchical power mechanisms that obliterate the critical position of the public and the artist, and presents itself as a new kind of narrative, redefining their respective roles. Institutional responsibility does away with the servantmaster logic of Institutional Critique, introducing a democratic idea of the institution and the public as active guarantors of an interactive discourse based on reciprocity. As interaction between active subjects with narration always takes place from one individual to another, thus introducing the public. This is why it can also be interpreted in a political manner, referring to society, which plays a part in constructing the work. Narration as interaction between active subjects with a subject that perceives it is an exchange that interrupts the logic of the gift if it is experienced outside of the subject that receives it. I, the narrator, make a story yours by telling it to you, but since this is not reciprocated, the symbolic exchange is interrupted. This type of exchange is that of the religious image, which presupposes a symbolic bridge between God and man, acting in a dogmatic way. In this case, it is the Scriptures and not the public, who are called upon only as a last resort. In order to recover this symbolic loss of interaction, the Church institutes the Mass as a place of passive encounter, which is liturgical and thus frozen. In Institutional Critique, institutions are criticised as places appointed to confer a hierarchy upon art. The artist has worked to retrieve a discursive practice, while remaining within a hierarchising dialectic based on the opposition between servant and

master, on the supremacy of the institution and of the gallery over the public and the artist. Institutional responsibility, on the other hand, promotes an open, participatory form of narration, excluding the dogma of the finished message. This means that it approaches the auteur-artist in terms of a hierarchy that introduces an operativeness as a form of sharing in which the work narrates itself as it unfolds. It does not show itself as an object of exchange in dogmatic and hierarchising terms. The institution is no longer just a dogmatic place appointed for conservation, but is turned into active energy. Through the implementation of discursive mechanisms that modify the work, the public is called upon to guarantee its narration, legitimising its existence with their own personal presence. The institution guarantees an exchange in which the various parties the public, institution, and artist play an active role in an exchange of the gift. Active participation in the event confers ritual significance upon the meeting of those who effect the exchange, modifying their attitude towards the work. The attitude of the public is one of trust, as a reflection of the suspension of judgement, which is formulated only later when the work is complete. Trust is a symptom of life and it underpins human relationships and the exchange of gift. The public accepts partiality by momentarily abandoning the security of the overall vision, recovering a critical relationship with the present, past, and future, and accepting this abandonment which, according to Aby Warburg, characterises the power of the image. The image always has more memory than the viewer, and requires an approach based on enthusiasm. The institution acts as a catalysing force between the public who recognise it as the bearer of topical value and the artist, who in turn introduces an intention into the community in order to transform it into a gift.

Examples of the staging of a performance, as in Joseph Beuys or in the Gutai group, show how an open narration can introduce vitalistic elements into the language of painting. A colder compositional narration, on the other hand, like the one introduced by Gerhard Richter in 4900 Colors allows the work to enter into dynamic contact with the institution it is in. The vision of art based around the premises of institutional responsibility may be a starting point for new reflections on the relationship between the work and its context.



An intelligence that organises with discipline is the most precious contribution to sensibility in the creation of works of art. Paul Czanne 1. Connection, Compactness, Continuity Poetics is based on topological parameters such as connection, compactness, and continuity between the parts that constitute the work, allowing the building of a support structure, which is a precondition for the work. Connections take place through linking nodes. In botany, a node is a formation on the stem or on the branches of a plant, from which new terminations branch out, so the structures have a series of nodes, as potential parts that, when developed, will lead to the construction of graphs. Each structure has a degree of connectivity which, if developed through association and communication, leads to the network with semantic values.

Fig. 56


A semantic network is a form of representation of knowledge supported by particular relationships between nodes that are recognisable as concepts on which a series of reasonings can be based. The semantic relationships at the base of the network are: Meronymy (X is a part of Y, so Y has X as a part of it), Holonymy (X is a part of Y, so X has Y as a part of it), Hyponymy (X is subordinate to Y, so X has Y as a part of it), Hyperonymy (X is subordinate to Y; X is a type of Y), Synonymy (X denotes the same thing as Y), Antinomy (X denotes the opposte concept of Y), Union set theory first arose in the late nineteenth century, through the research of Georg Cantor, who provided a conceptual system for developing both mathematics (with the exception of the category theory) and objects such as numbers, or algebraic and topological structures, distinguishing the connections through logic. The first to propose a set-theory definition of natural numbers were Gottlob Frege and Bertrand Russell. Frege devoted a fundamental place in his research to extensions of concepts that are quite simply classes, sets, and systems. The set theory makes it possible to visualise how X and Y can enter into a relationship through the cohesion of elements that makes it possible to satisfy the following characteristics in certain conditions: 1. The elements either belong or do not belong to the set, for otherwise they are termed fuzzy sets using fuzzy logic. 2. The elements never occur more than once, for otherwise they are referred to as subsets. 3. There is no order of appearance. 4. The elements characterise the set unequivocally.

Fig. 57

In this chart, the X and Y sets form a topological space referred to as homeomorphic, which means they are characterised by a continuous biective function, which is referred to in algebra and mathematics as isomorphism, since between the two sets X and Y, there is a binary relationship which means that for every X element there is only one Y. In the following figures we see the possible operations between two sets, X and Y.

Fig. 58

If we introduce the context of the encounter between X and Y as the third element, we can extend the operations to the following table:

Fig. 59

Fig. 60

The continuous biective function is a formalisation of a homeomorphic type, since the four points are satisfied in terms of the Aristotelian principle of non-contradiction, while a formalisation in which there are varying degrees of truth and falsehood is referred to as homotopic. There are degrees of truth that, in logic, are defined as degrees comprised between 0 and 1. Fuzzy logic replaces the straight line with a curve, using fuzzy edges to introduce different degrees of truth. Traditional logic, which is limited to true/false, was unhinged by the introduction of the curve of exceptions which, by

means of fuzzy borderlines between things, opened up possible new semantic horizons. Art was called upon to investigate these by constantly redefining the borders of encounter between things, in an evolution of artistic language that had its very reason for being in the surpassing of itself. 2. Normed Space Connections are brought about by the introduction of a function that assigns relationship values to the elements, acting as a base for the construction of a vectorial space. A real or complex vectorial space is a normative function, with elements of positivity, definiteness, triangular inequality and homogeneity, which are all characteristics that give structure to a convergence of those elements that are considered to be at the base of the construction of the space of the work. A function or series of functions that act upon a space by regulating its development create a topological space. A topological space that is complete with regard to the metric introduced by the norm is a normed space, known as Banach space, from the name of its inventor. Science defines Banach space as a vectorial space on which a norm is defined, such that every Cauchy sequence converges to one element of the space. Convergence is defined by the concept of limit. In the way it acts as an element within the language of painting, painting practice can be considered as a semantic network and as a structure that is crystallised through a series of relationships between the various structures it stems from. The medium has a series of characteristics and nodes that enter into relationships with the genre, with the format, with the model and its translation into a parameter, and with the display, in a structuring based on the topological principles of

union, compactness, and continuity. The decision the norm that lies at the heart of the connections that bring about connectivity is in the relationship between the parts, and it defines the morphology of the work.59 Painting practice marks the introduction of normed space into art, on the premises of a linguistic decision that places connectivities as constituent parts of the space-work. To give an example, Cubism introduced the norm (the Cubist programme) that brought about precise formal options. It is no coincidence that in Tra Einstein e Picasso60 Meyer Schapiro notes how, in 1914, Georg Riemann was, together with other mathematicians, included in the catalogue of an exhibition of Cubist works in Prague, Budapest, and Moscow,61 as one of the creators of non-Euclidean geometry. In topology, Minkowski space, which is named after the famous mathematician, is a space-time model that defines the existence of a norm that regulates the construction of space. Schapiro later used it to introduce the concept of time into Cubist concerns. This will be examined in the following pages.
70. Very often, the style appears to be formed by the welding together of a number of styles that have grown together, and its constituent parts can only just be distinguished at the extremities, where they are not even always isolated. It is here that this process of growth by fusion, which we have already observed a number of times, can be seen most frequently, and indeed it must reveal itself because, before achieving perfection, the delicate parts come together and contract at the centre of the inflorescence, and can thus be closely welded together. J. W. Goethe, La metamorfosi delle piante, ed. Stefano Zecchi. Orig. title: Die Schriften zu Naturwissenschaft, Parma, Guanda, 1983, p. 69 60 The notion of the simultaneous, and of consequence, acquired a new meaning, leaving aside the formulaic or axiomatic requirements of faithfulness to appearance (in nature): if the viewer cannot grasp the object portrayed as an instant whole, he might understand it correctly as the construction of a consistent, even though arbitrary, set of operations on the form. Meyer Schapiro, Tra Einstein e Picasso, spazio-tempo, Cubismo, Futurismo, Milan, Christian Marinotti Edizioni, 2003, p. 147 (1st ed. New York 2000) 61 M. Schapiro, op cit. p.123


Medium, genre, format, model, parameter, and display are the nodes around which the language of the work is developed, creating a topological space with their connections. The definition of the six points that constitute the essence of a work of art as normed space is the result of a process which has its roots in geometry and in its most simple manifestations, thus finding confirmation in the traditions that defined it as sacred. This is because it is morphogenetically at the heart of the balances of the nature and fundamentals of mathematics.Each individual part is seamlessly linked together and, through this, all things are created. Sacred geometry makes it possible to build Platonic solids, and to structure the Golden Section as the representation of the universal law of harmony. Through its topology, the conceptual structure of the work is defined as a set built upon foundations that respect the harmony of the creation with regard to the creator. For St Augustine, six was the perfect number from which to reach the geometrical bases of harmony in nature. The construction of the hexagon is the result of an encounter between the intentionality of the creator and everything that is outside of him and that he uses. Intuition is fulfilled in reflection as intentionality, bringing back to language what had previously been perceived intuitively. A part of this complexity is lost in intentionality. Parts of the work are closely built up around the impression of the creator, bearing his indelible sign, while others are also the result of the consequentiality given by the characteristics that are inherent in things and in their being, which are partially perceived by the prevailing culture. With two circles, we represent the intentionality that emerges from the reflection, and its formalisation through the reality of things. By reality we mean datity (actuality) as objects, utensils, and materials, with their signifieds and signifiers, and their linguistic com111

plexities. The circle is the representation of space as its maximum extension: perfection, and eternity.

Fig. 61

Fig. 62

In geometrical terms, the union of two circles constitutes the base for the first closed geometrical figure, which is the triangle, in other words space in its minimum manifestation. The triangle is the basis for the construction of the hexagon as a complete form, structured on the encounter between reflection and the world. For Allendy (ALLN, 150) the scenario essentially reveals the opposition of the creature to the creator in an indefinite equilibrium. This opposition is not necessarily one of contradiction (for it may simply be a distinction) but the source of all the ambivalences of the number six, for it brings together two sets of ternary units.62 In the modern age, the work of art experiences this complexity and ambivalence through its
J C., A. Gheerbrant, Dizionario dei simboli. Orig. title: Dictionnaire des symboles. Ital. edition ed. Italo Sordi, second vol., BUR Dizionari, Rizzoli, 1994, p. 355


premises medium, format, model, parameter, genre, and display which are built up on the hexagon that arises out of the encounter between the artist-auteur and reality. The centre at the hexagon is the point where the six nodes converge, making it the absolute point of encounter between reality and the idea of it in reflexive thought.

Fig. 63

The triangle, based on three, is the first figure of Euclidian space. The number three is at the base of the Cantor set which, rather surprisingly, is a fractal and thus sees its structure repeat infinitely. As a topological space for every pair of X and Y points there is a homeomorphism a set in which there is a one-to-one correspondence between the elements and those of one side of it, and thus of a subset, in a conceptual extension that formulates a definition of infinity. The work of art can be defined as a tensor. A tensor is the set of vectorial spaces that is brought about by the position of the viewer. As Jan Jacques Wunenburger points out, for Leibniz: The relationship between a thing and its

representation eludes close mimetic replication, since it can work out in a number of different perspectives, which do however remain commensurable with each other, since each point of view [...] which shares the same referent [...] is a normative system, so an ellipse or even a parabola or a hyperbole to some extent resemble the circle of which they are a projection on a plane. This is because there is a precise natural relationship between what is projected and the projection that it creates and, in accordance with a certain relationship, each point of one corresponds to each point of the other. This intellection of the expression in terms of projective geometry thus confirms the diversity of manifestations of the same generative form.63 Georg Cantor wrote:
The actual infinite arises in three contexts: first when it is realized in the most complete form, in a fully independent otherworldly being, in Deo, where I call it the Absolute Infinite or simply the Absolute; second when it occurs in the contingent, created world; third when the mind grasps it in abstracto as a magnitude, a number or a type of mathematical order.

In the following pages, we shall examine the P1 system as a means of interpreting two works by Picasso, one from his analytical Cubist period, and the other from synthetic Cubism. The decision of Cubist painters to use neutral colours in the analytical phase, as well as a particular type of painting material, can be viewed as a way of applying a cognitive model to the painting based on a precise sematology: the Cubist style.


J. J. Wunenburger, Filosofia delle immagini, Turin, Einaudi, 1999, p.167


Fig. 64 Pablo Picasso The Poet, 1911

Fig. 65

Fig. 66 Full mesh topoligy


Here we see an example of full mesh topology, in which each element of the system is linked to the others. A file created on a computer is replicated directly in all the others. The optics, time, and structure, which form the model of Cubist space, are transferred to a parameter that is formalised as a subjective and analytical deconstruction of the object portrayed. This figure forms part of the portrait genre and, in terms of its emotive neutrality, it is painted in a borderline format between the mental and the neutral, just as the colours chosen are oils, which is the quintessential analytical medium. The canonical display emphasises the invitation to the viewer to venture into a form of contemplation that requires sight alone. The Synthetic Cubism period started in 1911, when the object was first analysed and then deconstructed before being synthetically reassembled to investigate its essence. In this period the Cubists had a preference for painting still lifes with fruit, violins, bottles, glasses and newspapers flattened onto the surface of the painting. They also returned to the chromatic richness which had been lacking in the analytical period. The compositions of those years often included elements from the real world, such as letters, numbers, pieces of paper, and newspaper cuttings. Here Cubism had a programme for analysing the motif through the experience of the observer, mediated by time, which made a norm of pictorial space, and this led to a shift of time: first adopted as a model and then transferred by destructuring the object observed from various points of view. This is the parameter by which the space of pictorial vision is formalised. In the first, analytical, stage of Cubism, oil was chosen for its notable flexibility and for its many semantic nodes. The choice of neutral tones such as brown, grey and ochre responded to a wish to reduce the emotive scope of the vision in favour of a focus on the structure, which was built up through

the arbitrary nature of the artist. Classical theories of vision and Maurice Merlau-Pontys phenomenology agree on the fact that the third dimension is invisible, since it is nothing other than our own vision. In the later, synthetic period, the decision to replace oil with charcoal, gouache, and ink was brought about by a Cubist style that formed its objectives in the distinctive nature of the medium. Picassos intention was to use collage in Cubist space, introducing it as a fragment of reality that ascends to the level of painting. To bring about this perceptive shift of the semantic and optical nature of the foreign body, Picasso had to create a semantic structure that would bring the fragment of reality into categories that, in the act of observation, define the field of painting. To create this network, the various elements had to have a relationship of continuity, compactness and union, thus creating not only the illusion but also a redefinition, within the composition, of the characteristics which make painting recognisable for what it is. In order to be perceived as painting, papier coll has to blend in, submitting to the rules of representation in order to lose its traces, so that it cannot be recognised as real. In order to introduce papier coll as representation, Picasso had to resort to a cryptic form of mimesis which called for the loss of self in nature, but without self-negation. The real element remains what is interpreted in painting terms. A newspaper is still a newspaper in the composition. In the chapter on media, we saw that, in terms of connectivity, the synthetic qualities of watercolour and, by extension, of gouache make them more suitable for a cryptic form of mimesis, while oil helps create ostentatious mimicry. The cryptic or diegetic mimicry promoted by the use of gouache, graphite and ink enabled collage to develop as a key element in Synthetic Cubism. In Rosalind Krauss view, the introduction of the semantic element further

highlights the value of the signifier as the form at the base of collage. This possibility is not brought into play in readymades but through the introduction of papier coll as painting, with the formal relationships that work on signifieds and replace them with signifiers. As can be seen in the following chart, it is cryptic mimicry that makes it possible to create a relationship between papier coll and the language of painting.

Fig. 67 Pablo Picasso Pipe, 1914

Fig. 68


Fig. 69

1 papier coll 2 diegetic cryptic mimicry 3 natural media 4 solid media 5 fluid media 6 charcoal 7 graphite 8 gouache 9 ink

So far we have seen examples of semantic continuity, but now we shall examine a case of rupture, contrast, and discontinuity. This can be seen in Martin Kippenberger, whose works play on a model that views a form of exorcism of modernity in errors. By using the poetics of desecration, Martin Kippenberger criticises and exorcises artistic practice based on the figure of the artist as a conventional, stereotyped identity. The introduction of free associations of images, of biographical references, and of various types of medium and a mixture of high and low culture triggers a short-circuit. Kippenberger, a post-modern figure in the underground culture of Cologne and Berlin, works on his research in structural terms through the use of contradictory interconnections. He does so by applying choices that consider differences more than continuities, thus de119

molishing the structure in constant cross-references between the auteur and the reference, and between copy and original. Kippenberger adopts the idea of multiplicity as his model, transferring it into a style based on the absence of style, in a recuperation that puts neoExpressionism, Pop, Photorealism, Minimal Art, and Appropriation Art all on the same level, declaring the end of modernity in this freedom.

Fig.70 S.O.36 Berlin Kreuzberg

The idea of multiplicity and misappropriation is a fundamental component in the punk culture promoted by Kippenberger even outside the art system, precisely as a way of reconciling (everyday) life with art, and indeed he was the manager of the legendary S036 Club in the Kreuzberg district, the nerve centre of the West Berlin underground in the 1980s. Paradoxically, this continuity is however absorbed into a semantics that ensures the structuring of a topological space of the work.



What a strange destiny the works of famous painters encounter! Initially, they are just canvases nailed onto wood, but then they are covered in colour in such a way as to express a thought or a sensation or, to put it better, the representation of a painters thought or sensation, and from that moment on they are both pure material and also something that, like a dream, will never allow itself to be precisely measured, defined, or described. Cees Nootebom Through his model, the auteur-artist constructs a normed space, so the representation is mediated by a conceptual schema that underlies the vision. By using the particular characteristics of the medium and of the format, the auteur-artist gives shape to a space with topological characteristics. This is the painting, which comes from a tradition of intentionality that arises from the retrieval of intuition, which is immediately lost. This melancholy blurring of the vision and its abortive translation leads to the partiality of the conventional theoretical thesis, which is developed by the artistauteur in its objectivisation of the act of constructing the work, and it leads to the production of a partially autonomous datum the painting which is moulded on the thesis of the auteur. Through the appeal of its artistic language, the work matures in the conventionality of culture, developing its potential qualities in a play of perspectives that erode the work in a slow, inexorable subtraction that leads to the negation of the unequivocal signified. Normed space, which is defined as the translation of intentionality, moves as a harmonious formalisation

from the centre outwards. As we saw in the chapter on connectivity, the centre of the hexagon is the point of maximum convergence of the six parts on which the topology of the work is structured. A dialectic is established between the self and the social, in which the work sign constitutes the dialectic. Negation no longer places the work in relation to the world but only to itself, in a vertical vortex of significances. The work decants, denying the accidental nature of the significations, accepting only hypotheses about itself. It is in a suspension of judgement and in the death of intention that revelation comes about. Reinterpreting this suspension of consent, which was used by Greek sceptics in their controversy with the negative dogmatism of the Second Academy founded by Arcesilaus, in his General Introduction to Pure Phenomenology, Edmund Husserl uses the term epoch, with Einklammerung in brackets, which can be translated as the suspension of judgement, as the necessary condition for capturing, through reduction, the world of life or the flow of consciousness through time (Erlebnisstrom). Is the world real or unreal? Is it subjective or objective? Attempting to precede all investigation with a suspension of judgement is the theme of epoch, in other words the radicalisation of our research until we reach what is most original in consciousness. Once epoch has been achieved, what remains is a phenomenological residue, as a reduction of the physical object and of the psychological self to the original state of pure consciousness.64 According to Poincars conjecture, one of the most important problems of topology, which was solved only in 2003 by Grigori Yakovlevich Perelman,
Cf. L. Geymonat, Storia del pensiero filosofico e scientifico, vol. 6, Garzanti, 1972, p. 26


the sphere is the simplest three-dimensional form since it is a direct development of the point, to which it can always return. In this way, Poincar appears to be illustrating the process of epoch as a means for returning to the origins through the suspension of judgement as a condition for bringing about a reduction of experience to its minimum terms. This can be seen in the work of art as a possibility for retrieving the pre-experience that led to the thrownness (Geworfenheit in Heideggers conception of being as a thrown project) of the intentionality of the work. This is the intuition of the ultimate level of knowledge, in which the work appears fully evident as original datity. It is this intuition that allowed the author to conceive the work, and that will later allow the viewer to capture its universality and form65 in other words, to perceive the work as a truth in its own right, in its inner power. To reach the a priori those constant structures of experience in which the being takes shape and that, in logical terms, in the sense of a topological identity of the space-work, both in its conceptual and in its formal implications, can be developed by Henri Poincars topological studies. The mathematical and logical validity of the now solved conjecture lays the bases for an investigation of the structure that underlies aesthetic experience, in a new definition of the limits of the subject and of its universal understanding. The fulfilment of epoch takes place in a reduction that makes it possible to reach to the foundations of experience, leaving the superstructures aside. At the same

For example, red, the triangle, the number, etc. E. Husserl, Ricerche logiche, orig. title Logische Untersuchungen. Zweiter Teil: Untersuchungen zur Phnomenologie und Theorie der Erkenntnis II, para. 52, Milan, Il Saggiatore, 1968 (1st German edition 1901)


time, through the Ricci flow, Perelmans solution to Poincars conjecture calls for a study of singularities, which are those variants that either collapse without being significant (like false interpretations in works of art) or have hyperbolic qualities and appear in a significant manner from a topological point of view. The work presupposes a signification, to be placed in brackets in an epoch that sets aside the vices and prejudices of culture and language. In the perspective of the intersubjective self to which the work of art tends, since it has an inclination for universality, these vices and prejudices are the most direct manifestations of the psychic reality which is at the heart of our actions. Art has left us melancholy, exhausted, as outstanding fragments of this progress. The phenomenology of the work is a process of meaning in which the elevation of the signifieds corresponds to their evanescence. It is in duration that the conventional aspects which are inherent in the form-content relationship are developed and reduced. During the moment of life in other words, at the moment of creation which is extended seamlessly through institutional responsibility as narration, the work has value through the constituent process that it reveals to the world. Just when the work is completed, its content becomes the memory of its own revelation. It is the death of the process of creation that fulfils the metaphysics of the work and gives it its value as an entity and its ability to express its own magical evanescence to the world. Resting under the patina of the work, death paradoxically gives it immortality by producing a desire for life and conjuring up the dream that the magical event should appear again. The fascination of art comes from its potential for overcoming death


through oblivion.66 The work exists in the brevity of the instant and it is inexpressible and dark. Georg Herold is certainly an artist who has worked on the death of meaning, as we can see not only in his works, but also in the press release for one of his exhibitions at Galleria Raucci Santamaria, in which he explains that the materials he uses bound to social or political signifieds can be reinterpreted on the surface of the canvas, or as sculptures, in an alienating way. All this might bring to mind the theatre of the absurd of Samuel Beckett or Lars von Triers The Idiots, where the meaning is present but escapes any certain connotation of definition. And indeed, just when the truth appears to be revealed in our minds, the curtain rises again to show us a further vision that evades our acquired certainty for another that we would never have considered. This is what Joseph Beuys made of the performances in which the objects that were left over as remains acquired the value of relics ready to bear witness to the political and social idea that was the model of the performance. The showcases he displayed reveal the force and potential of his actions and the vitality of the wax illustrates the vow to life after the death of the action. In Im Coming Home in Forty Days (1997) Jeroen de Rijke and Willem de Rooij show how the shape of an iceberg can be a pretext for reflection through time (of circumnavigation) on the possible significance that can

In its attentive and forgetful being, with its power of dissimulation that effaces every determinate meaning and even the existence of the speaker, in the grey neutrality that constitutes the essential hiding place of all being and thereby frees the space of the image, language is neither truth nor time, neither eternity nor man, but form that is always undone from the outside. Language makes origin and death communicate, or rather makes them both appear in their indefinite oscillation, their momentary contact suspended in boundless space. M. Foucault, op. cit. p. 59


be attributed to form itself, and how the mountain appears to be enchanted in the evanescence of the vision through the mists. The journey of the work through the world indicates its own erosion, so displaying the process necessarily becomes both a reflection on its condition and a way of showing the work itself as a succession of tragic moments in which the chorus indicates the boundaries of sense, while time translates the decadence of its form. It is the melancholy attitude of abandonment of the work on the market of social eros, in which the seduction of culture violently shakes the historical object, only to return it, as Walter Benjamin has pointed out, as a ruin.67 Decadence has coincided with life itself which, in a conventional relationship, has often seduced the signifiers only to abandon the signifieds, expressing its crises and obsolescence a number of times, together with its phantoms and litanies, in a morbid relationship of approach and distancing. The power of painting is in its enormous power for rebellion, its ability to go beyond, its power to rise up infinitely from the ashes of language, thanks to its inner harmonious, signifying structure, and the normed space on which the artist has shaped and moulded it, obtaining something that has the ambiguity and the casts independence from the mould. The work should be seen and approached with caution. It is necessary simply to be able to sense it, and to listen to and imagine it in the folds of time and of its appearance. The auteur lies glumly before the phoenix, which unfurls its wings and shows the erotic seduction of being lost within it.


Cf. W. Benjamin op.cit. p. 156



Bibliography (selected) Giorgio Agamben. Nymphae, in aut aut 321-322, ed. Davide Stimilli, Milan, il Saggiatore, 2004 Charles Baudelaire, Diari intimi (Intimate Journals) Milan, Adelphi, 1952 Walther Benjamin, Il dramma barocco tedesco (German Baroque Drama). Orig. title.: Ursprung des deutschen Trauerspiels, Turin, Einaudi, 2004 (1st ed. Frankfurt am Main, 1974) Irene Angela Bianchi, Fenomenologia della volont, Desiderio, volont, istinto nei manoscritti inediti di Edmund Husserl, Milan, Franco Angeli Editore, 2003 Gottfried Boehm, La svolta iconica, Rome, Meltemi, 2009 Paolo Casalegno, Teoria degli insiemi. Un introduzione, Carocci, Rome, 2004 Paul Czanne, Lettere, ed. Elena Pontiggia, Milan, SE, 1997 Jean Chevalier, A. Gheerbrant, Dizionario dei simboli. Orig. title: Dictionnaire des symboles. It. ed. Italo Sordi, Milan, BUR Dizionari Rizzoli, 1994, (1st ed. Paris 1969) Ferdinand de Saussure, Corso di linguistica generale. Orig. title: Cours de linguistique gnrale. Rome, Laterza, 2008 (1st ed. Paris 1922)

Jacques Derrida, Il problema della genesi nella filosofia di Husserl. Orig. title: Le probleme de la genese dans la philosophie de Husserl, Milan, Jaca Book, 1992 (1st ed. Paris 1990) Georg Didi-Huberman, Ninfa moderna, saggio sul panneggio caduto. Orig. title: Ninfa moderna, essai sur le drap tomb, Milan, il Saggiatore, 2004 (1st ed. Paris 2002) ID, L immagine insepolta, Aby Warburg, la memoria dei fantasmi e la storia dell arte, Orig. title: Limage survivante. Histoire de lart et temps des fantomes selon Aby Warburg, Turin, Bollati Boringhieri, 2006 (1st ed. Paris 2002) Jean-Claudie Filloux, Linconscio. Orig. title: Lincoscient, Milan, Xenia, 1996 (1st ed. Paris 1994) Hal Foster, Il ritorno del reale, lavanguardia alla fine del novecento. Orig. title: The Return of the Real, the Avant-Garde at the End of the Century, Milan, Postmedia, 2006 (1st ed. USA 1996) Michel Foucault, Le parole e le cose. Orig. title: Le mots e les choses. Milano, BUR, 2006 (1st ed., Paris 1966) ID. Il pensiero del fuori. Orig. title. La pens du debors, Milan, SE, 1998 (Paris 1986) Sigmund Freud, Opere, ed. Musatti C. L., Milan, Bollati Boringhieri, 1986 Joan Wolfgang Goethe, La metamorfosi delle piante, ed. Stefano Zecchi. Orig. title.: Die Schriften zu Naturwissenschaft, Parma, Guanda, 1983 (ntg.)

Ludovico Geymonat, Storia del pensiero filosofico e scientifico, vol 6, Garzanti, 1972 Martin Heidegger, Che cos metafisica?, Was ist metaphysik?, Milan, Adelphi, 2006 (1st ed. Germany 1929) ID. Holzwege. Sentieri interrotti, orig. title: Holzwege. Milan, Bompiani, 2002 (1st ed. Frankfurt am Main 1950) David Hockney. Secret Knowledge. Rediscovering the Lost Technique of the old Masters, Singapore, Penguin, 2001 Edmund Husserl, Meditazioni Cartesiane, ed. Enrica Natalini, Rome, Armando, 2004 Wassily Kandinsky, Lo spirituale nellarte. Orig. title.: ber das Geistige in der Kunst. Insbesondere in der Malerei, Milan, SE, 1989 (1st ed. Germany 1912) Alexandre Kojve, La dialettica e lidea della morte in Hegel, Turin, Einaudi, 1948 Rosalind Krauss, Reinventare il medium. Cinque saggi sullarte doggi, Milan, Mondadori, 2005 ID. Loriginalit dellavanguardia e altri miti modernisti, Rome, Fazi Editore, 2007 (1st ed. USA 1985) Sol LeWitt, Sentenze sullarte concettuale, New York 1969, and Art-Language, vol. 1 no. 1, England, May 1969)

Louis Marin, Della rappresentazione, ed. Lucia Corrain, Rome, Meltemi, 2002 (1st ed. Rome 2001) Maurice Merlau-Ponty, Locchio e lo spirito. Orig. title: LOeil et lEsprit, Milan, SE, 1989 (1st ed. Paris 1964) Filiberto Menna, La linea analitica dellarte moderna. Le figure e le icone, Turin, Einaudi, 2001 (1st ed. Turin 1975) Friedrich Nietzsche, Sullutilit e il danno della storia per la vita. Orig. title.: Umzeitgemasse Betrachtungen, Zweites Stuck: Vom Nutzen und Nachteil der Historie fur das Leben, Milan, Adelphi, 2007 (ntg.) Giulio Paolini, Giulio Paolini, Bologna, Damiani, 2008 Jackson Pollock, Jackson Pollock, Lettere, riflessioni, testimonianze, Milan, SE, 1991 Vladimir Ja Propp, Morfologia della fiaba, ed. Gian Luigi Bravo, Turin, Einaudi, 2000 (snt.) Meyer Schapiro, Tra Einstein e Picasso, spazio-tempo, Cubismo, Futurismo, Milan, Christian Marinotti Edizioni, 2003 (1st ed. New York 2000) Arthur Schopenhauer, Il mondo come volont e rappresentazione, Milan, Mursia, 1991 Carlo Sini, La scrittura e il debito, conflitto tra culture ed antropologia, Milan, Jaca Books, 2002 Jean-Jacques Wunenburger, Filosofia delle immagini, Turin, Einaudi, 1999