Luca Massimo Barbero introduces the exhibition
Curated by Luca Massimo Barbero
One can’t rise off the ground by running or jumping:
one needs wings
The exhibition AZIMUT/H. Continuity and Newness is a tribute to the post World War II neo-avantgarde in Italy, currently of widespread interest to critics, curators and the general public, and in particular to Azimuth, the gallery and the review founded in 1959 in Milan by Enrico Castellani (b. 1930) and Piero Manzoni (1933–1963). The exhibition reveals Azimuth’s central position in the panorama of Italian and international art of those years: like a creative earthquake it was one of the great catalysts of Italian and European visual and conceptual culture of the time and an intellectual bridge between a new, revolutionary generation and the most contemporary developments in art.
Like a thunderbolt of intense activity, between September 1959 and July 1960, Azimuth is evermore acknowledged in the collective consciousness of critics and historians as a critical episode, marked by radical experimentation, energized by its ties to some of the major figures of the art scene in those years and by lively international dialogue. Different in the spelling of their titles, Azimut (the gallery) and Azimuth (the review) together formulated ‘a new concept of art’, that thrived on the dialectic of ‘continuity and the new’. On view works by Manzoni and Castellani of course, and also by artists-protagonists of this period as Lucio Fontana, Alberto Burri, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Yves Klein, Jean Tinguely, Heinz Mack, Otto Piene and Günther Uecker.
With AZIMUT/H. Continuity and Newness, Luca Massimo Barbero adds to a series of exhibitions he has curated researching the art scene in the postwar decades. The exhibition anticipates another celebration of the European neo-avantgardes of that time: ZERO: Countdown to Tomorrow, 1950s-60s, opening October 10, 2014, at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, curated by Valerie Hillings, Curator and Manager, Curatorial Affairs Abu Dhabi Project.
The catalogue of AZIMUT/H. Continuity and Newness, published by Marsilio Editori in Italian and English, documents and extends the exhibition itself, with more than 600 pages of scholarship, plates, comparative imagery, unpublished materials, and reproductions of periodical literature, being the research conducted for the exhibition, and a series of essays covering different aspects of Azimut/h, by Luca Massimo Barbero, Flaminio Gualdoni, Antoon Melissen, Francesca Pola and Federico Sardella.
In addition to the annual support of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection Advisory Board, the Intrapresae Collezione Guggenheim, the Private Bank BSI, ENEL and Regione del Veneto, AZIMUT/H. Continuity and Newness benefits from media support of Corriere della Sera and Radio Italia while Hangar Design Group designed the exhibition communication. Nec Display Solutions Italia, Christie’s and Listone Giordano are technical sponsors. The Peggy Guggenheim Collection is also grateful to the Fondazione Araldi Guinetti, Vaduz, which funds auxiliary educational programs.