The Giovanni Testori Art Library includes over 15,000 volumes and reflects in its content and order the indications given by Giovanni Testori (1923-1993), writer and art critic himself. The largest section includes monographs of 20th century artists, with numerous catalogs produced by private galleries and national and international institutions. A section of monographs of artists working from 1200 to 1700 is accompanied by some thematic sections, dedicated, for example, to Still Life, Drawing, Engraving, Sculpture, Museums or Italian Regions. In addition to the large section of magazines, encyclopedias and art collections, there is also a specific collection of rare volumes dedicated to African and pre-Columbian art. The library makes it possible to understand the interests of Testori who, in some volumes, includes his own handwritten glosses or affixes signatures and ownership stamps. There are volumes with autograph dedications of the author and some rare artist’s editions, in some cases unique pieces, completely executed and painted by hand.
The Library is open to everyone, in particular to students, scholars and researchers, and offers itself as a point of reference for the North of Milan, which has the opportunity to access a large catalog of art, unique for the territory.
The Giovanni Testori Library is kept at Casa Testori, in Novate Milanese, and is open to the public. The volumes are available for consultation at the premises and are not on loan.
A project by Casa Testori Meeting of Rimini 20-25 August 2021
From 20 to 25 August 2021, at the Meeting of Rimini, Casa Testori presented Io, Pier Paolo Pasolini, an exhibition dedicated to one of the Italian intellectuals whose extraordinary personality – director, screenwriter, actor, poet, writer, playwright – marked the 20th century.
Why Pasolini today? Because Pasolini is an open chapter in our history. He is an intellectual whose writing, thinking, filming and debating have always been marked by a deep wound. You might think it was a personal wound. In reality, if Pasolini is still such a living, burning word, even after almost 50 years, it is because, by destiny, he bore the burden of a collective wound, he was the wounded witness of an anthropological change, of a change that primarily affected his identity and his person. And which has the dramatic mark of a “lack”. Pasolini was able to push through the nostalgia for what was lost, putting into action an intelligence capable of unmasking, without fear of scandal, all the hypocrisies of the new victorious world. Pasolini’s strength therefore lies in this coincidence between the personal and public levels. This is why his words, even though they stem from his experience as an intellectual without a country, still weigh on collective history.
The exhibition Io, Pier Paolo Pasolini reconnects these two levels, using above all direct contact: it was Pasolini’s face and voice, so sharp and lucidly painful, that told his story, in six large video projections and in a collective and uninterrupted performance of readings of his texts, entrusted to several voices called upon to bring his words “alive”. An exhibition not to talk about Pasolini, but to hear Pasolini speak.
PASOLINI LIVE A Pasolinian performance
The six-act exhibition was opened by the performance Pasolini LIVE, which reached an international audience via the web. From a control booth at the beginning of the exhibition, a continuous Pasolinian live broadcast was transmitted: an uninterrupted reading for over ten hours a day of books and collections by Pasolini (articles, poems, speeches) to which groups of actors, artists and curators gave voice, as well as visitors to the exhibition and volunteers from the Fair, who were asked to read a passage by Pier Paolo Pasolini. At certain set times of the day, the diffusion of Pasolini’s words was achieved through the integral reading of some books and collections of articles, entrusted to young Italian actors, who took turns in an ideal chain throughout the days, creating physiological appointments for the international audience that was connected. But that’s not all. The flow of more than 50 hours of performances, for 6 consecutive days, was enriched by special guests. Passionate readers, men and women of culture, poets and journalists, musicians and singers, doctors and scientists of every sensibility and category were involved, who intervened from the exhibition and from all over the world with their own voices, reading a passage by Pier Paolo Pasolini dear to them. A palimpsest organised for a continuous flow and a global homage never attempted for a writer, able to account for the tangible international interest aroused by the intellectual from Casarsa.
PASOLINI IN 6 ACTS
The central element of the exhibition are six large video projections, conceived as six chapters in which to recount as many facets, creative and biographical episodes of Pasolini’s life.
“È difficile dire con parole di figlio” The origins and the mother Telling about Pasolini’s main affection, his relationship with his mother, is the key to introducing the character, his Friulian origins, his move to Rome and his education. Right from the start we heard Pasolini’s voice, talking about himself and reading one of his poignant poems dedicated to his mother.
“Il patrimonio della poesia popolare anonima” History and the City of Man Pasolini’s concern for Italy’s artistic heritage, for its integrity, but also the defence of its centrality in the formation of our consciences, stems from his artistic interest, developed in his work as a painter and draughtsman, and ignited during his university years in Bologna, thanks to his professor, the great critic Roberto Longhi.
“Manca sempre qualcosa” Pasolini’s religiousness and the Vangelo secondo Matteo A pivotal theme in understanding Pasolini’s complexity is his relationship with faith, or rather with Christ. His Vangelo secondo Matteo was judged by L’Osservatore Romano to be the best film ever made on the figure of Jesus. Some of the film’s key characters were presented in a special immersive projection that pays homage to the famous work by his friend Fabio Mauri, who involved Pasolini himself in a performance.
“Il modo di essere uomini” True fascism is homologation Following Pasolini’s eyes and mind as they move over the landscape, over the city, through its history, opens the viewer’s mind to the anthropological, historical, architectural and social levels of the city and its profoundly human expression. Pasolini’s is a cry of alarm, against those who threaten man and society, corroding it from within, it is the prophetic and loving denunciation that made his words indispensable.
“Non si può scindere l’amare dal capire” The awakening of the people and Gennariello “He who prostrates himself with all his strength, even sentimental strength, against regression and degradation, means that he loves those men in the flesh. Love that I have the misfortune to feel, and that I hope to communicate to you too”. With short clips of interviews and excerpts, Pasolini’s educational power was evoked, through the famous articles collected in Scritti corsari and Lettere luterane, which open with the emblematic pedagogical treatise Gennariello, against homologation, for the freedom of man.
“Distruggere e annientare quella solitudine” The farewell of Giovanni Testori “Thus, those who have truly and totally wanted life may sooner than others find themselves in the very hands of death, which will make them a laughing stock. Unless pain teaches the “via crucis” of patience. But is this something that our time allows?” The finale is Testori’s writing for Pasolini’s death (Espresso, 1975): a unique consonance that opens us to the modernity and topicality of Pasolini’s research.
A project by Casa Testori Curated by Davide Dall’Ombra For Italian Council – Sixth Edition
DE-ANIMATING: A ZOMBIE INDEX OF FORGETTING Leora Maltz-Leca
What does forgetting look like? How do you paint the ebbing of memory, or filmically convey the slippage – or willful erasure – of yesterday’s truths by the onslaught of the present? How might one visually articulate the withdrawal of history, or even better: actually seize the tail end of the past as the tide drags it away? For Italian artist Andrea Mastrovito, one possibility lies in the ghostly pallor of white paint, a seeping, creeping fluid that leaks under doors, and rushes across film, obliterating, erasing, effacing. In I Am Not Legend, the second of an ambitious trilogy that premiered in NYC with NYsferatu in 2017, he whites out the undead figures of George Romero’s 1968 horror film, Night of the Living Dead, in turn based on Richard Matheson’s 1954 post-apocalyptic novel, I am Legend, which provides the title, reversed, for Mastrovito’s 2020 rendition. To produce I Am Not Legend, the artist employed an incredibly labor-intensive process of printing, and then hand painting, scanning and refilming nearly a hundred thousand stills to reconstitute an eighty-minute animation of Romero’s classic. His exacting process creates a layered metaphorics of blankness, a draining of mind from matter from that further transforms a human into a thing to insinuate his method of animation as a de-animation. Here the process of animation works against itself, or, like the title, in reverse: for if animation traditionally promised to transform puppets into people through a technological-magical sleight of hand that reproduces the vivid appearance of life, I Am Not Legend instead ponders the transformation of people into puppets through a distinctly disenchanted relationship with technology.
I Am Not Legend is a 1h12′ film by Andrea Mastrovito. The work was made by printing in A4 size all the frames of Night of the Living Dead (1968) by George Romero and intervening on each sheet with white paint in order to erase the presence of zombies from the original film. Once more than 100,000 plates were obtained, they were then digitized and reassembled following the new script created by the artist who used thousands of quotations taken from a hundred famous films, novels and songs. To complete the work, the original soundtrack is by Matthew Nolan and Stephen Shannon, with the contribution for the opening and closing music by Maurizio Guarini, author, together with the Goblin, of the original music for the films Profondo Rosso (1975), Suspiria (1977) and Dawn of the Living Dead (1978).
Io Non Sono Leggenda Palazzo Fabroni, Pistoia September 26, 2020 – May 9, 2021
The solo exhibition Io Non Sono Leggenda aims to contextualize, at Palazzo Fabroni, the launch of the film within a path that can reflect the research that Andrea Mastrovito has conducted in recent years around the figure of the anti-hero. The exhibition occupies all the rooms of the museum used for temporary exhibitions, to retrace not only the genesis of the work donated to the museum – original plates, sources of inspiration and creative process – but also some of the most significant steps of the artist’s recent years: from the previous film, NYsferatu, completely entrusted to the technique of drawing; to the inlays, allegorical works that had great success in Lyon on the occasion of the Biennale; to the stained glass windows, drawings on colored compositions of rulers, up to the cut-out books and collages.
The artwork involved the creation of a single copy, destined for Palazzo Fabroni, as well as an exhibition copy used for the world tour in various museum venues and international cultural centers. After the screening of the work’s trailer in Lyon, on August 15, 2020 I Am Not Legend was premiered in New York at Magazzino Italian Art in Cold Spring. On September 25, 2020, the official premiere was held in Pistoia, on the opening of the exhibition Io Non Sono Leggenda. After that, the work circulated internationally, screened at MUDAM in Luxembourg,Belvedere 21 in Vienna, the Italian Cultural Institutes in Toronto, New York and Pretoria, and the Laznia Center in Gdansk.
On the occasion of the exhibition, a bilingual volume entirely dedicated to the work I Am Not Legend has been produced. Designed by the artist Maria Tassi, the book retraces the narrative flow of the film through the figurative key of the photo-story. With essays by Leora Maltz-Leca, Stefano Leonforte, Stefano Raimondiand a presentation of the works in the exhibition by curator Davide Dall’Ombra. Go to the bookshop
Project realized thanks to the support of the Italian Council (Sixth Edition, 2019), a program for the promotion of Italian contemporary art in the world of the Direzione Generale Creatività Contemporanea per i Beni e le Attività Culturali e per il Turismo.
“Curatela” (Curatorship) is the summer exhibition of Casa Testori curated by Davide Dall’Ombra. “Curatela” launches the “(Ri)cambio la visita” project, supported by Fondazione di Comunità Milano, with the patronage of Consiglio Regionale della Lombardia. This exhibition offers a cultural reactivation of proximity that, in 2022, will see the city of Milan at the center of an artistic flow between the center and the suburbs, between Museums and Libraries, between schools and artists’ studios.
The exhibition path at Casa Testori presents three young artists with their unpublished, specifically designed to narrate their artistic research. These works by Alberto Gianfreda, Fabio Roncato and the artistic duo bn+BRINANOVARA are inspired by three great artworks of the twentieth century, signed by Ennio Morlotti, Giorgio Morandi and Filippo de Pisis, from three major museums in Milan: Museo del Novecento, Casa Boschi di Stefano and Villa Necchi Campiglio. These paintings will be exhibited in three Municipal Libraries in the Milan suburbs next year. These are crucial artists of the 1900s that will allow us to recount three different sides of Giovanni Testori: poetry, militant criticism and the newspaper article.
In the contemporary debate on the role of the critic and the curator, this exhibition will illustrate different approaches in the relationship with the artist adopted to give space and word to his work, questioning how to expose and/or tell it but also, sometimes, collaborating to the definition of the artistic process that generates it. This is how the thread between the six artists is woven, the CURATELA (curatorship) precisely, squaring the means of the past and present, capable of triggering a process of growth and understanding of the work of art that benefits the artist and the public. Testori played the role of the critic who accompanies with his own words the whole life and work of an artist like Morlotti, on whom he wrote numerous times for over fifty years, he was able to intervene with poetry on the “other” work of Morandi and use his torrential production on the “Corriere della Sera” to re-establish the importance of an artist like De Pisis. Casa Testori continues to narrate the contemporary vitality of twentieth-century painting and gives voice to emerging artists, interpreting its curatorial role by accompanying the relationship with its characterized spaces and following the artists step by step in the process.
14 artisti valdostani conquistano il Museo Gamba A project by Casa Testori Curated by Davide Dall’Ombra Castello Gamba – Museo d’arte moderna e contemporanea Châtillon, Valle d’Aosta 23 October 2020 – 2 June 2021
AN OPPORTUNITY TO UNDERSTAND OURSELVES Cristina De La Pierre
The Castello Gamba di Châtillon – Museo d’arte moderna e contemporanea della Valle d’Aosta, concludes its 2020 exhibition season with ASSALTO AL CASTELLO. 14 artisti valdostani conquistano il Museo Gamba [Assault on the Castle. 14 artists from Valle d’Aosta conquer the Museo Gamba]. The exhibition was organized by the was organized by the Regional Ministry for Cultural Heritage, Tourism, Sports and Commerce of Regione autonoma Valle d’Aosta, in collaboration with Casa Testori, a cultural hub just outside Milano, and curated by Davide Dall’Ombra. The modern and contemporary art collection of the Region at the Castello Gamba sets a group of works by contemporary artists, active in Valle d’Aosta, alongside its two core collections: 19th-20th century works dedicated to Alpine landscapes and masterpieces by the leading Italian 20th century masters. A pacific but resolute occupation by artists who accept the challenge of measuring themselves against the important protagonists present in the museum, from Mario Schifano to Felice Casorati, from Renato Guttuso to Lucio Fontana. The role of a public museum dedicated to the contemporary includes that of protecting and interpreting the artistic expression of the territory. This does not mean mummifying in a museum artistic expressions that are still evolving, but it does mean taking into account ongoing realities. To give voice to the contemporary art of the Valle d’Aosta is not only a civic duty, it is a unique opportunity to understand and also to understand ourselves.
ASSAULT ON THE CASTLE Davide Dall’Ombra
It is often said that certain situations cannot be expressed in words. For artists, though, there is no way out. They are condemned to express themselves, to give voice to elements and feelings of our experience, to help us understand something of ourselves. All the same, if one aspect is common to the sparse number of contemporary art exhibitions in this strange year of 2020, it is the programmatic intention not to hold an exhibition on Covid. Today’s art, for the very fact that it cannot avoid expressing the times in which we live, knows that it can do this only by not placing itself directly at the center. This is not just an understandable revulsion against the “monotheme” of our conversations and concerns during these months. It is an awareness that respecting the particular drama means grasping its universal aspect, and that doing this requires taking a step back which these months do not yet allow. We can speak of this subject today only by eluding it. Rather as the mountains and pastures surrounding this exhibition will be sought in vain in the subjects chosen by these fourteen artists active in Valle d’Aosta. This exhibition, in fact, had its origin in the minds of the artists taking part in it during the first lockdown, only to be halted, when barely inaugurated, by the arrival of the second. Its function, therefore, will be to lend its countenance to the new start, to the reiterated, obstinate and indispensable new start. When the first nucleus of artists coagulated around one of them, Marco Bettio, it was not difficult to construct the team and bring it to the attention of the Scientific Curator of Castello Gamba, Viviana Maria Vallet. She, in her turn, identified Casa Testori as the proper interlocutor to curate it. Faithful to its origin, the exhibition does not aspire to provide a screening of the artistic production of the Valley or to identify its top-drawer artists, though most of these have probably been drawn into the net. For this reason, we thought of an “assault”. The claims and predicaments of the artists were allowed to speak, their invasion was accepted. We listened, but we also aimed to give free rein to the expressive potential of each artist, inviting them to dialogue with the space. We aimed to go beyond the simple gallery of images and bring about fourteen spatial interventions which would delineate the exhibition itinerary and the permanent collection of the Museum, as well as certain crucial external points.
BETWEEN THE COLLECTION, IN THE EXHIBITION HALLS AND OUTDOORS
This is not a gallery of images, but 14 new spatial interventions spread throughout the exhibition, in the collection and outside: from painting to video, from sculpture to installation. After opening with Jean-Claude Oberto’s work, which illustrates this persistent context of uncertainty, four interventions mark the rooms of the permanent collection: these are the works by Patrick Passuello (Room 1), Massimo Sacchetti (Room 2), Pasqualino Fracasso (Rooms 4, 5, 7, 11 and 13) and Barbara Tutino(Room 10). Leaving the rooms of the collection, Marco Jaccond‘s papers accompany us up the stairs to this point and, here on the left, the “consultation room” hosts Andrea Carlotto‘s talk. Behind us, the Castle’s usual exhibition space unfolds, with works by Giuliana Cunéaz and Chicco Margaroli; the mezzanine is presided over by the paintings of Marco Bettio and Sarah Ledda, while Riccardo Mantelli invades the entire roof terrace. But the exhibition does not end in front of the extraordinary landscape over the valley. Two artists have also occupied the exterior. In the large fountain is the work of Daniele De Giorgis and, in the portico on the main facade of the Castle, just a few steps away, Marina Torchio‘s sculptures occupy the loggia above the staircase.
A CATALOGUE AND TWO PHOTOGRAPHERS
The exhibition’s design and the protagonism of the artists led to the decision to create, on the one hand, a catalogue with photographs of the works installed, entrusted to Alessandro Zambianchi and, on the other, a gallery of photographic portraits of the artists on show, taken by Giorgio Olivero.
From the early 1980s Testori had a return to antique painting, which led him to collect a few but important paintings that he kept until his last years in his bedroom on the second floor. The ground floor, with the exception of two paintings by Gaudenzio Ferrari and Fra Galgario, was entirely occupied by the works of young painters launched by Testori; among them the “Nuovi Ordinatori” and in particular Klaus Mehrkens, Thomas Schindler and Herman Albert and the “Nuovi Selvaggi”, first of all Rainer Fetting.
In the 1970s, the family home was filled mainly with the works of three contemporary artists with whom Testori had a friendly relationship and who owed much of their fortune to his critical essays: Jose Jardiel, Willy Varlin and Paolo Vallorz. Every wall was divided among these three painters, whose dozens of paintings Testori owned.
However, there was no lack of works by masters of the twentieth century, some of whom were practically unknown in Italy at the time, such as Richard Gerstl, the exponents of the New Objectivity, Francis Gruber and Francis Bacon.
At the end of the 1940s, artworks painted by Testori himself were hung on the walls of the house. Testori’s young age is only one of the factors to be considered in order to understand why the collection had not yet started.The main reason was the fact that in those years Testori’s main activity was being a painter, not a critic. In fact, it was not until the end of the decade that Testori’s momentary abandonment of painting, his gravitation towards Roberto Longhi and the first exhibitions of ancient art in Piedmont led him to begin his atypical activity as a collector.
During the 1950s masterpieces by Francesco Cairo, Giovan Battista Moroni, Carlo Ceresa, Pier Francesco Guala, Cerano and Giacomo Ceruti arrived in the house.
At the beginning of the 1960s, the free walls of the second floor were completely covered with paintings. Thus it was that, in the dining room, on two walls filled with several levels, dozens of paintings attributed to Giacomo Ceruti and Gustave Courbet faced each other.