Between September 1959 and July 1960, Milan was animated by the adventure of the magazine Azimuth, and the homonymous gallery, without the final “h”, that lasted less than a year but anticipated a season of conceptual and behavioral art.
Enrico Castellani (Castelmassa, 1930) changed the art of his time with his “palette” of optical motifs, as defined by Germano Celant: curves, swirls, gatherings and rarefaction, marked by the tension of inner surface and then articulated in angular spaces or in the environment.
The Archive Castellani, located in Via De Amicis, in Milan, has a relatively recent history: it was founded in the late nineties and preserves the bibliographical, documentary and photographic material regarding the works and the artistic exhibitions of the artist. The first commitment of the archive at the time of its foundation was the research of materials, documents and books in libraries, archives and other institutions, in order to acquire what was interesting about the works of the artist, who has always been refractory to the idea of the artist as “archivist of himself”.
Nowadays, the archive Castellani includes paper and digital documents related to all the works – paintings, sculptures, environments and multiple cards – made by the artist since 1953, with a thematic library, catalogues of exhibitions and monographs, catalogues of group exhibitions, artist’s and photographic books, magazines, videos, invitations, posters, artist’s published and unpublished writings, letters and various correspondence.
Federico Sardella, curator of the archive directed by Renata Wirz, knows well the commitment needed, every day, to be able to deal with requests from museums and institutions, researchers and students, private collectors, auction houses, galleries and merchants who are all answered in a very short time: “We value the relationship of trust we have established with the outside world and I think it is a strength of the archive to ensure feedback and a daily presence”.
In terms of the market, for example, the archive has had to face, recently, the interest for documents in the broadest sense and documents related exclusively to the paintings, that have a parallel market by themselves. The role of the Archive is to preserve and transmit the heritage, now fully digitized, even if a form of sharing through new technologies, at the moment, is not fully planned.
For what concerns certificates of authenticity, the Archive respects a policy of gratuity and scientific rigor; recording of the works is done with the utmost respect for the privacy of the owners and takes place after careful consideration of the work and not only through the evaluation of photographic material or digital images. The problem of creating a network of national art archives is surely on the table, but the structures on the Italian territory all have different ways of operating, often incompatible with each other, making it very difficult to form an association of Archives to which the structures could refer, as in the case of the Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art. The problem of false or “artifacts” as Castellani himself ironically calls them, rarely compare to the artist’s works, even more through the publication of a crucial tool for the identification of his works, the catalogue raisonné published by Skira in 2012, which includes 1103 works on canvas created between 1955 and 2005. This was quickly followed by a catalogue raisonnè of paper and design, a publication dedicated to the works of graphics and all that is inscribed or classifiable as a multiple.
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