Patti Smith: Higher Learning, Parma

Patti Smith, Slippers of Pope Benedict XV, New York City, 2007, 10 X 8 in (25.4 X 20.3 cm) (Large)

Patti Smith, Slippers of Pope Benedict XV, New York City, 2007.

A review by guest author Clare Ann Matz.

 PATTI SMITH „Higher Learning“

120 photographs by Patti Smith and THE NY SCENE „Art, culture and the new avant-garde movement in the 70s – 80s“
150 works of art by Galella, Ginsberg, Gorgoni, Makos, Warhol …

Palazzo del Governatore
Parma, Italy
Until July 16, 2017.

Patti Smith, Auto Portrait 2, 2003, 10 X 8 in (25.4 X 20.3 cm) (Large)

Patti Smith, Auto Portrait 2, 2003.

Higher Learning is a meditative journey on creativity and the passage of time, presenting 120 black and white Polaroid photographs taken by Patti Smith during her travels around the world, its title comes from the record Land, published in 2002.

Gianfranco Gorgoni, Jean Michael Basquiat, NYC, 1983, Lambda print mounted on aluminum, 180x130cm, -®Gianfranco Gorgoni _ Courtesy Photology.jpeg

Gianfranco Gorgoni, Jean Michael Basquiat, NYC, 1983, Lambda print mounted on aluminum, 180x130cm, ©Gianfranco Gorgoni _ Courtesy Photology.

The exhibition, organized by the University of Parma, the City of Parma and produced by International Music and Arts, celebrates the work of Patti Smith in occasion of  the honorary doctorate in classic and modern literature awarded her by the University of Parma on May 3rd, 2017.

The small photographs, taken with a vintage Land 250 Polaroid camera, are a visual diary showing the locations, the furniture, the statues, tombstones, and other objects which belonged to artists who contributed in developing Patti Smith’s cultural heritage, including Herman Hesse’s typewriter, Frida Kahlo’s bed, corset, crutches and medicine bottles, Paul Verlaine’s revolver, Margot Fonteyn’s ballet slippers and other relics.

Printed with gelatin silver process in limited 10 copy editions the photos defy the modern concept of digital photography, most images are out of focus and badly exposed, as if on a nostalgic quest, a longing for artistic masters and mementos from the past.

Patti Smith, Hermann Hesses's typewriter, Lugano, Switzerland, 2003, Gelatin silver print, edition of 10, 14 X 11 in (35.6 X 27.9 cm)

Patti Smith, Hermann Hesses’s typewriter, Lugano, Switzerland, 2003.

A yearning which has been at the heart of Patti Smith’s visual work from the very beginning, and whose embryo can be found in the book Babel published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons in New York in 1974.

Patti Smith, Pier Paolo Pasolini's grave, Giulia, Italy, 2015, Gelatin silver print, edition of 10, 8 X 10 in (20.3 X 25.4 cm)

Patti Smith, Pier Paolo Pasolini’s grave, Giulia, Italy, 2015.

Speaking about the honor of receiving a Laurea honoris causa Patti Smith comments:

„When I was young I dreamed of going to a big university. It is an honor to receive  the  Laurea honoris causa from Parma University, one of the oldest and most prestigious universities of Europe. I have always believed in the importance of education, and receiving this award from this eminent institution for higher education both embarrasses and stimulates me. This exhibition is a homage to another form of education. The university of life, of travelling, of books, artists, poets and teachers.

The images are visual representations of the pilgrimages and of gratitude, an ongoing love and respect for our cultural voices, for their great works and the humility of their instruments. A brush, a typewriter, the beds on which they dreamed. The places of their eternal peace.“

Patti Smith, gods hand rome, 2007, gelatin silver print, 20.32 X 25.4 cm

Patti Smith, God’s hand, Rome, 2007.

Gianfranco Gorgoni, Keith Haring in Front of Queens Bridge_, NYC, 1985, Vintage Gelatin Silver Print, 35,6x28cm, -®Gianfranco Gorgoni _ Courtesy Photology

Gianfranco Gorgoni, Keith Haring in Front of Queens Bridge, New York City, 1985.

The THE NY SCENE „Art, culture and the new avant-garde movement in the 70s – 80s“, produced by Photology in collaboration with the City of Parma, exhibits 150 images linked to the artistic environment which developed in New York City between the 70s and the 80s, when the city became the world capital of contemporary art and launched the Pop Art  movement and the Beat Generation.

The photographs exhibited illustrate a cauldron of art, sex, drugs, pop culture and literary avant-garde through the eyes of the artists that contributed in the creation of these movements: Galella, Ginsberg, Goldin, Gorgoni, Makos, Mapplethorpe and Warhol and others.

Christopher Makos, Altered Image-Portrait of Andy Warhol, NYC, 1981_82, 50x40cm, Installation of 9 digital pigment print, -®Christopher Makos _ Courtesy Photology

Christopher Makos, Altered Image-Portrait of Andy Warhol, NYC, 1981_82, 50x40cm, Installation of 9 digital pigment print, ©Christopher Makos _ Courtesy Photology.

However the alembic container of the Palazzo del Governatore purges them of the nitty-gritty, grubby, noisy reality of the Big Apple, distilling an essence of refined photographs, carefully enclosed in sober frames, which defy the very purpose of the exhibition, which is to illustrate the energy in the Big Apple in the 70s and 80s.

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Ron Galella, Mick Jagger, NYC, 08_09_1983, Vintage Gelatin Silver Print, 25,2×16,3cm, ©Ron Galella _Courtesy Photology.

The exhibition is divided in two sections „The East Side“ with Allen Ginsberg’s „Beat+Pieces“ portraying the poets of the Beat Generation with refined gelatin silver prints, including John Giorno, Gregory Corso, Julius Orlovsky and other interesting players of the scene such as Annie Leibovitz, John Cage and Judith Malina.

Allen Ginsberg, Francesco Clemente, Greenwich Village, N.Y.C., June 1992, Gelatin Silver Print, 30x40cm, -®Allen Ginsberg Estate, New York_ Courtesy Photology.jpg (Large)

Allen Ginsberg, Francesco Clemente, Greenwich Village, N.Y.C., June 1992, Gelatin Silver Print, 30x40cm, ©Allen Ginsberg Estate, New York_ Courtesy Photology.

Gianfranco Gorgoni who focuses more on visual artists with both b/w as well as striking, large Lambda color prints depicting Richard Serra, Francesco Clemente, Claes Oldenburg, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol and Keith Haring.

Nan Goldin’s Cibacrome „Everyday“ photographs recall the more familiar atmospheres of those years.

There are also two films: A documentary by Gianfranco Gorgoni about the owner of renowned art gallery Leo Castelli and the work of Swiss filmmaker Albert Schepflin shot in Sandy Daley’s room at the Chelsea Hotel with a soundtrack by Patti Smith chanting the poem „Thief“.

Patti Smith, Winged Cherubim, San Severino Marche, 2009, 14 X 11 in (35.6 X 27.9 cm) (Large)

Patti Smith, Winged Cherubim, San Severino, Marche, 2009.

The second section „The West Side“ begins with Andy Warhol’s „Instant Polaroids“ of artists and the jet set which gravitated around each other including Jane Fonda, Ryan and Tatum O’Neal, John McEnroe, Joan Collins, John Denver and artists Jasper Jones and Roy Lichtenstein. „Altered Images“  by Christopher Makos is a series of stark portraits of Andy Warhol in normal clothes, but heavy facial make up. „Not a drag act but 8 wigs, 2 days and 349 shots“, as Makos recalls, to capture the king of Pop Art in his multiple facets. At last Ron Galella’s „Disco years“ are just that, Polaroid pictures of celebrities at the Studio 54.

Patti Smith, Gabriele D'Annunzio's bed, Brescia, 2015, Gelatin silver print, edition of 10, 10 X 8 in (25.4 X 20.3 cm)

Patti Smith, Gabriele D’Annunzio’s bed, Brescia, 2015.

A small room with just one large photograph of a skull is dedicated to Robert Mapplethorpe yet one can spend a good hour there (they have placed comfortable benches) watching a clever 2016 HBO documentary film by Randy Barbato and Fenton Bailey. „Look at the pictures“ depicts the extra-ordinary life of the controversial photographer through interviews with friends, school mates, colleagues, clients and gallery owners, plus historic footage, drawings made as a child, multimedia experiments at Pratt Institute and of course many exceptional photographs. Especially touching is the extensive interview with Robert Mapplethorpe’s brother Edward and the trial during which the Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center was charged of obscenity twenty-five years ago.

Patti Smith, Michelangelo, David, Florence, 2007, Stampa su gelatina al bronuro d'argento, 35.56 X 27.94 cm (Large)

Patti Smith, Michelangelo, David, Florence, 2007.

As one exits the gallery a final room houses the double screening of Andy Warhol’s 1967 film „Chelsea Girls“, maybe an interesting experiment for the time, but quite insignificant after the overwhelming experience of a full immersion in Robert Mapplethorpe’s world.

Patti Smith, Columns (Gabriele D'Annunzio's garden), 2003, Gelatin silver print, edition of 10, 10 X 8 in (25.4 X 20.3 cm) (Large)

Patti Smith, Columns (Gabriele D’Annunzio’s garden), 2003.

 

 

Pasolini Roma

Martin-Gropius-Bau Berlin

11 September 2014 to 5 January 2015

Mamma Roma

Mamma Roma

Pier Paolo Pasolini was one of the most outstanding and ambivalent personalities on the European intellectual scene of the post-war period. As a lyricist in his native Friulian, as the author of novels, essays and columns on cultural and political issues, as a director of controversial films, and also as a painter and graphic artist, he sought to explore timeless, archaic themes: the fate of man, rural life, religion, sexuality, death.

In doing so he always avoided commonly accepted standards and created images of extraordinary clarity and starkness, thus becoming the most provocative figure in Italian society. As a result of his media presence in the last years of his life and certainly since his violent death Pasolini has become an icon of Postmodernism.

Autobiography and self-promotion, while certainly not the only elements in his works, are nevertheless present as important themes, revolving like satellites around their author’s ego, his inner contradictions and his place in a changing world. In the last analysis it was Pasolini himself who with a flood of pretexts, self-commentaries and media happenings blurred the distinctions between life and work.

Pier Paolo Pasolini on the set of Theorem, 1968. © Angelo Novi / Cineteca di Bologna

Pier Paolo Pasolini on the set of Theorem, 1968.
© Angelo Novi / Cineteca di Bologna

Silvana Mangano in Teorema, 1968. Reporters Associatri srl

Silvana Mangano in Teorema, 1968. Reporters Associati – Roma

Nearly 40 years after his death the question of who Pasolini really was is being posed anew. To answer it we have to look at the “whole” Pasolini, that is to say, the life and the work, the wealth of styles and the diversity of media, and also at the social and political clairvoyance and the excessive provocation of this highly complex artist, who has recently been rediscovered by a younger generation who have seen the relevance of his views on the consumer society in the changed circumstances of globalization.

There is a pre-Pasolini Rome and a post-Pasolini Rome. His articles and films created a new imagery for the city of Rome. Pasolini was not content to use the city as the scene of his novels and films; what he managed to do was “recreate” Rome using the means of literature and film. Like some grand creator he invented a new myth of the polis and the Vatican City, their districts and inhabitants.

As a film-maker Pasolini is best known for “Accattone” (1961), “Mamma Roma” (1962), “The Gospel According to Matthew” (1964) and “Theorem” (1968). In 1969 he filmed “Medea” after Euripides with Maria Callas. “The Decameron” was shown at the 1970 Berlinale. As a writer he achieved notoriety for his novels „Ragazzi di vita“ (1955) and „Una vita violenta“ (1959) and later distinguished himself as an essayist and lyricist.

Pier Paolo Pasolini on the set of Accattone, 1961 © Reporters Associati - Roma

Pier Paolo Pasolini on the set of Accattone, 1961.
© Reporters Associati – Roma

For Pasolini Rome was not just a background and location. Rome had a positively physical, sensuous and passionate existence. For the artist Rome was like one long love story with all its disappointments, mixed feelings of love and hatred, and alternating phases of attraction, rejection and estrangement. For Pasolini the analyst of the development of Italian society Rome was his main observation platform, an eternal field of study, of thought and of struggle. The changes in the city shaped his analysis of the changes in Italy and the Italians in the 1960s and 1970s.