For the first time, through the testimonials of those involved, letters and documents of the period, crits, photographs and artworks, two exhibitions of the period, which changed our way of understanding and promoting art, are examined in detail.
The book looks again at two key moments in the history of contemporary art which took place thanks to the enthusiasm of the woman who organized them, Graziella Lonardi Buontempo, a fervent cultural promoter of the art scene in Rome in the early 1970’s, and the intuition of a young curator and scientist, Achille Bonito Oliva. In 1970, the exhibition entitled 2Vitalità del negativo nell’arte italiana 1960/70″ transformed the venue of Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Rome into a gigantic multimedia container. The title refers to the idea of art as a cast (‘negative’) of the real world, and the fact that it becomes a factor which can change our view of reality. The leading artists of the time participated in the exhibition: Gianni Colombo, Gino Marotta, Enrico Castellani, Jannis Kounellis, Vincenzo Agnetti, Fabio Mauri, Luciano Fabro and Paolo Scheggi. Contemporanea, which opened in 1973, is now regarded as one of the most important exhibitions of the 20th century. It was one of the first and largest international exhibitions to feature many different spheres of art, including multimedia. Even the choice of venue, the new underground car-park at Villa Borghese, which, at that time, was ready but not yet in use, is an indication of how experimental the initiative was. Divided into ten sections (art, cinema, theater, architecture and design, photography, music and dance, visual and concrete poetry, books and records by artists and alternative information), the exhibition’s aim was to highlight the anthropological complexity of contemporary reality through manifold forms of expression. Illustrated with more than 130 pictures of installations, photographs and documents from the period, the book re-creates the atmosphere and the impact of an experience which, today, has more relevance than ever before.