GIORGIO ASCANI, NUVOLO, A STORY
The year is 1944, we are in full Resistance. Name of the battle by partisan: Nuvolo, because he would appear and disappear in the Umbrian hills. He was unpredictable. From then on, the eighteen-year-old Giorgio Ascani, that very-poetic name would bring it with him for his whole life. No more as a militant of the San Faustino brigade, but as an artist.
by Cristina Crisci & Marco Polchi
He was an experimenter, a visionary, technically irreproachable Nuvolo, even from a child. When he began to cultivate a love for artisan work from his parents, both typographers, showing his ability and manual talents above the usual.
It is for this, to follow his precocious inspiration, that at just twenty-three years old he moved to Rome, under the advice of Alberto Burri, a friend who would become one of the giants of contemporary art. La Capitale was, in that moment, a true hotbed of ideas and talents and the studio in Via Margutta, where Nuvolo worked with Burri, was the heart of it.
Here he met Edgardo Mannucci, he moved to other galleries, he met authors like Corrado Cagli (with whom he began a great friendship and a great artistic partnership), he spent time with the Gruppo Origine, which was made up of among others Giuseppe Capogrossi, Mario Balocco, Ettore Colla and Alberto Burri himself. With them he shared interests in new materials, forms, an exchange of ideas and innovations. Without realizing it, Nuvolo found himself in the middle of a revolution.
Or better, he was part of this revolution; he, so reserved and at the same time, ingenious. His first serotypes (in this way, baptized again by the poet, friend and critic Emilio Villa) works produced by the graft of serigraph and painting go back to 1952. Between the 50s and 60s Nuvolo exhibited in the best Roman galleries, in Florence, the United States (Peggy Guggenheim bought some pieces for the collection in Boston and New York), in Milan, where he spent time with Piero Manzoni and Lucio Fontana. In 1956 he married Liana Baracchi, partner and collaborator until his last days, spent in Città di Castello.
Here, after having left the position as director or the Academy of Belle Arti in Perugia in 1984, he returned and had moved the workshop where he would realize (among others) the graphic works of Alighiero Boetti, and Alberto Burri, Renato Guttuso, Jannis Kounellis, Milo Manara, Michelangelo Pistoletto and Mimmo Rotella. In a whirlwind of collaborations which pushed Nuvolo towards a production that was cutting edge for times, ways and means.
Oh yes, because the serigraphic works are the foundation of a new artistic language that Nuvolo would bring throughout his life from weaving (like the “Tensioni” in skin, the “Diagrammi” and the “Daini” from the early sixties); digital graphics (with the help of son Paolo, computer and Piergiorgio, photographic technician); computer art (the series “Aftermandelbrot” from the early 90s with the production of the kaleidoscopic figures which were found out on the computer) up until the “Genesi” cycle, in which he found the applications of artistic video and sound elements.
This said, it is easy to understand how Giorgio Ascani has always been an artist searching for new frontiers, new spaces. Unexpected and in many forms.
Like a cloud (Nuvolo).
official site: www.archivionuvolo.it
NUVOLO AND POSTWAR MATERIALITY 1950-1965
It is the title of the exhibition that will open in New York on October 26th (until January 2018) at the Galleria di Donna and represents the starting point for a new artistic launch of the Tiferno Maestro on an international level. The exhibition dedicated to Nuvolo in the age of Giorgio Ascani will be a retrospective of works between 1950 and 1965, curated by the professor Germano Celant. It is the first monographic exhibition which the United States has dedicated to the Tiferno artist, who died in 2008 and whose promotion and cultural tutelage is supervised by the Archivio Nuvolo, whose president is his wife, Liana Baracchi Ascani and the vice-president is their son Paolo.
Nuvolo’s works presented in the exhibition are introduced by other artists like Alberto Burri, Piero Manzoni, Lucio Fontana, Cy Twombly so as to represent a very flourishing historical period for contemporary Italian art.
It is also the opportunity to delve into the artistic period which post-WWII involved Rome in an enthusiastic proposal of young artists among whom Burri, Colla, Emilio Villa, Capogrossi and of course Nuvolo. It was precisely this creative period that will be exhibited in New York concentrating the show on the period from 1950-1965 in which Nuvolo experimented with his pictorial cycles of serotipia, daini and scacchi.
THE LOAN FROM THE PINACOTECA
Among the works chosen by the American curator for the show there were also two of those that were part of the donation from the family to the town Pinacoteca in Città di Castello: they are Diagramma of 1962 lines of machine sewing on unprepared canvas, and Cucito a macchina from 1958, machine sewn fabric. Apart from the move, the two works are shown together with the other 13, donation pieces, in a permanent way, but in rotation in one of the rooms of the modern wing of the town Pinacoteca.
A vast catalog to expand upon and document the life of the master Nuvolo. The volume, edited by Skira, will also give the opportunity to know the biography of the artist and his human evolution with his move from Città di Castello to Rome, where he would live and work for another 35 years, with the full involvement of his wife Liana and his sons Giorgio and Paolo who now continue the work of disclosing the many artistic researches that Nuvolo did.
AT THE AUCTION
The show comes after two works of Nuvolo were present in international auctions: Phillips New York in May 2015 and Sotheby’s London in October 2016, both with record results for the artist and a growing interest for this person from the part of international operators.
«A stream of great interest is going around, about the works of my father -says Paolo Ascani, vice president of the Archivio Nuvolo – not so much a re-discovery, because among the players of our industry, his importance was already noted, but more among common people, and this makes us extremely happy, since my father didn’t love the elitist culture of “the few close ones”».
A PIONEER OF ART
by Marco Baldicchi - *Artist and ex-assistant to Nuvolo
«For Nuvolo (1926-2008) each new job is an adventure into new and unknown problems: if it didn’t present difficulties, as we say, it would not be interesting or any fun for him to do it, but would become repetition and an uninteresting routine job.
This approach which is focused on a constant research is shown right from the start of his work and this brought him to distinguish himself from the way that screen printing had been done in industrial graphics advertising. This was in the years after WWII, pioneering times for those who wanted to get into a technique that was still young, little developed and with very limited resources, especially if they were looking for new applicative techniques in the visual arts sector.
Nuvolo did his early experiments in Città di Castello, first with the help of some graphic technique teachers and the photo engraving of IPSIA, a scholastic institution for graphic arts, then alone in his own artisan lab. He was the first in Italy to work with photo screen printing with very inadequate tools, with bi-color filters that he borrowed from the rotogravure technician.
The experiments continued, between the end of the 40s and the early 50s, in Rome as well, in the laboratories of artists, Edgardo Mannucci, Alberto Burri, Ettore Colla, where he was a guest, and then in his own laboratory in Via Margutta.
At the same time he worked as a photographic screen printer in graphic advertising studios, in laboratories created with other members and then opening his own laboratory to external job proposals. Even though this work was distinguished from the artistic one from the beginning, sometimes in his graphic advertising work you can find applications of formal and technical inventions that are in his paintings.
Between 1953 and 1954 the Argon company placed new materials on the market which give a jump in quality for screen printing: colors, new canvases and a universal printing base, a production which is not artisan anymore but industrial. These were the years in which Nuvolo actively spent time in Ettore Colla’s studio and began his collaboration with the Fondazione Origine Arti Visive periodical, printed at IPSIA in Città di Castello, directed by the same Colla with Emilio Villa and of which his close friend Ascanio Ascani, a.k.a. Riri, would be called to become director.
Walter Benjamin, in his renowned text, ‘The Work of Art in the Technical Reproducibility Epoch’, brings into question the possibility that modern techniques can keep both the ‘aura’ as well as the ‘here and now’ of the work of art: Nuvolo’s effort and that of his workshop has continually been that of responding to this challenge. If the objective is that of modifying the quality of the ‘aura’ of the work in the passing from one physical state to another in the least possible way, then it is necessary to work a constant redefining in the course of the transformation which becomes the new “here and now” of the work.
Nuvolo creates his paintings with screen printing to realize unique pieces, perfecting his technique reaching an extreme control of the medium.
(with contributions by Aldo Iori)