Mauro Carrera is a atypical collector. Plunged in the impressive quantity of documents he owns, he can find his own inspiration and his own personal order in his chaos, since the collection has never been catalogued.
We talk about inspiration because it is this state of mind that drives Carrera in his research but also in his commitment as an art critic. Bibliophile since his childhood , he had his epiphany when he was older: “The purchase of the Jean Cocteau’s “Le mystere Laic” illustrated by Giorgio de Chirico. “Since that moment my collection took a particular direction, a link to the relationship between art and literature. I started to buy documents , artists’ books, graphic works, letters and photographs”.
The documents are mostly linked to Twentieth century art (from historical to new avant-gardes) and the collection is mainly composed of books, around 10000/15000, but also of drawings and paintings. Our collector researches 24h a day and he is constantly well informed about other private collections (for which he still works as advisor) and about purchases and sales in galleries and auctions. Anyway the “institution” is what he firmly wants to escape : his collection is incoherent and increased by purchases at antique dealers, street markets, on the web or by relationships or projects he promotes, most of all with living artists (with who he also writes).
However he still works with institutions: “I work with institutions as a loaner: I loan some artworks or documents and I write essays on what I loan, but I never buy in galleries or auctions. That is something for pure researchers. I am looking for things that academics leave on their paths”.
But what is he exactly looking for? Escaping traditional channels and having relationships with main collectors, which are the parameters of his research? Carrera has no doubts on this question: “My main purpose is to find and create new things. I have an exemplar and paradigmatic relationship with institutional collections and archives: I search what they don’t have. I am fascinated by the marginality of collections, not by their nucleus. I feel disturbed in following usual collectors’ logic. For me marginality’s research is programmatic and I am inflexible on this. For me research is like a game , but as every game, it has rigorous rules”.
The survey of documents “on the back-burner” (cards, receipts, notes) makes Carrera a sort of modern “ragman collector” (Benjamin), someone who gives value and importance to some material that would hardly find a place in institutional archives or collections. Once collected, these documents, without a logic in themselves , but that could fill a lot of gaps, are made available and the collector takes care of their divulgation himself: “ I am a searcher who tries to suggest some interpretations, that is why I do not really care about conservation; everything has to be known, that is what I care for. When I make available a document and I say something about it, my role is accomplished”.
Carrera’s openness is towards students and researchers that contact him: “I make my material available for some students , and sometimes I also donate some documents, because I love to meet people affected by my illness”. And he is not less disposed to a general digitalization of his material : “Yes, I would not have any problems, I am not jealous of what I have . We do not have to identify ourselves with what we own, but with what we do. I do not have any exclusivity or economical pretentions”
Mauro Carrera is a collector who does not claim to be remembered for his belongings, but for what he has said and what he lets be known, leading an interesting and detailed research operation, driven by a deep passion and by the intriguing game of “search for what lacks”.
Thus we are waiting, curious, for his next publications and initiatives.
Jean Cocteau. Il poeta, il testimone, l’impostore, Mattioli 1885, 2005
Cui dono lepidum novum libellum, Soprintendenza Archivistica, IBC – Soprintendenza per i Beni Librari e Documentari della Regione Emilia-Romagna, 2009
Toulouse-Lautrec e la Parigi della Belle Epoque, Mazzotta Editore, 2011
Divina Commedia. Le visioni di Doré, Scaramuzza, Nattini, Silvana editore, 2012
Paul Delvaux e il Surrealismo, Silvana editore, 2013
Campigli. Il Novecento antico, Silvana editore, 2014
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