Thursday, February 27, 2014

Germano Celant

The last couple of weeks have seen two of the world’s leading experts on artists books and multiples speak in Toronto. I somehow didn’t know out about Clive Philpot’s Booktrek presentation (and I wasn’t the only one in the dark about it, apparently the audience numbered in the single digits. The low single digits) but I made sure not to miss Germano Celant’s screening and talk at the Canadian Art Reel Artists Film Festival on Saturday.

Celant is a curator, critic and art historian perhaps best known for coining the term Art Povera in 1967. He is the author of many books and essays on the subject of artists' records (The Record As Artwork, see entry here), artists’ books (The Book as Artwork, Books by Artists, etc) and artists’ multiples (The Small Utopia, see entry here). The latter is almost certainly the most comprehensive survey of artists' editions ever mounted.

While the talk was mainly about his elaborate re-staging of the influential 1969 exhibition When Attitude Becomes Form at the Prada Foundation last year, he touched briefly on the multiples show, noting that the title (Small Utopia) referred to the lofty goals of the early proponents, ideas that the form might "democratize the art world" and so on. Celant casually noted, "it didn't take".

The above photographs, by Valery Gore and courtesy of the Canadian Art Foundation, show Celant in the TIFF lounge, for the Patrons Club brunch that the foundation hosted prior to the screening. In the above two images he is speaking with Interim Executive Director and Publisher Jacqueline Howe and former director (and founder of the festival) Ann Webb. In the first photograph, curator and critic Philip Monk gives Celant a copy of his latest book Glamour is Theft: A User's Guide to General Idea. 

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