Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Small Utopia. Ars Multiplicata

The exhibition The Small Utopia. Ars Multiplicata opened a month ago at the Fondazione Prada in Venice, and continues until November 25th. Curated by art historian and critic Germano Celant (whose dedication to the subject of artists' books, multiples, records and video dates back at least forty years), the exhibition appears to be the largest and most comprehensive ever mounted on the subject. Covering a period of 75 years, beginning in the early 20th century and continuing until 1975, the show features over six hundred works in an exploration of "the idea of uniqueness in art and in its perception, through the multiplication not just of the objects themselves but also of the different means used for its distribution, from artist’s books to magazines and from experimental cinema to radio."

The sprawling exhibition includes Andy Warhol's Brillo Boxes and Heinz Tomato Ketchup Boxes, Man Ray's Obstruction and Cadeau, Arman's Ordures au Naturel and Poubelle, Joseph Beuys' Felt Suits and Sled, a recreation of the European Fluxus Mail-Order Warehouse, Marcel Duchamp's Boîte-en-valise (three copies) and most (if not all) of the Readymades, Richard Hamilton's The Critic Laughs (again, three copies), several cans of Manzoni's Merde d'Artista, Pyramid by Roy Lichtenstein, ten Oat Flowers by Meret Oppenheim, Wedding Souvenir by Claes Oldenburg (enough slices to produce a full cake!), a whole stack of his Geometric Mouse and London Knees. Also included are collections such as the Nouveaux Realistes’ suitcase, Seven Objects in a Box, Fluxus ephemera, Futurist fashion, Bauhaus books and hundreds of other classics.

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