Works in this exhibition
JONATHAN MONK and MAURIZIO NANNUCCI - MONK >< NANNUCCI
Quartz Studio is delighted to present the exhibition Monk><Nannucci, a special project conceived specifically for the studio’s opening during the week of the Artissima art fair, with artists Jonathan Monk (Leicester, UK, 1969) and Maurizio Nannucci (Florence, Italy, 1939).
The exhibition's title includes the symbols for 'greater than' and 'less than,' which effectively visually connect the artists' last names, concisely mark their closeness and convey a sense of mutual exchange. The distance between the two artists' generation is reduced to nothing in the thoughtful reflection that each artist makes about the history of art through their work. Where Nannucci is minimal, precise, yet poetic, Monk is wry, witty, and sometimes unexpectedly caustic. As the artists themselves have noted, though their explorations run parallel in many aspects, they have interesting points of intersection. One such intersection is their referencing key figures of twentieth-century art like Alighiero Boetti. Boetti has come up as in Monk's work many times, sometimes explicitly or sometimes less so. Monk's many maps are a contemporary version of Boetti's original maps; his "self measurements" are, in essence, the offspring of the witty, classifying approach often seen in Boetti. And then there is Untitled and Unfinished (Afghanistan) from 2004,for which Monk made an expedition to the Band-e-Amir lakes in Afghanistan, where Boetti would have liked his ashes to have been scattered after his death.
As for Nannucci — from his incredible archives, containing personal memoirs as well as unique documents tracing his artistic path — he has said of Boetti, "With Alighiero, our references came from the same time, and we often surprised ourselves in how close they were and their intuitive similarities.” Nannucci's 'statements' are always mounted in structures that are extraordinary in historic, cultural and landscape senses, such as the Library of the German Parliament (2003), the Altes Museum in Berlin (2005), the Milan Triennale (2006), the historic Hubbrücke bridge in Magdeburg (2008), and the entrancing Medici villa La Magia in Quarrata (2009), just to name a few. In Nannucci's work, the relationship between the work of art and architecture — in the broadest sense of condensing cultural and structural marks — is an essential starting point, the distinguishing feature of his approach to his work and his mode of designing. His statements are always semantically open, while establishing themselves as universal and understood both mentally and emotionally by combining the message, font, size and color, all carefully devised by Nannucci for experiencing the art work in relationship to its context. The result is text and context that mutually reinforce each other. Nannucci's last solo show in Turin was in 1974 when he showed in Christian Stein's gallery, then in Piazza Vittorio. Since 1999, the sentence “All art has been contemporary” is proclaimed in blue at the entrance to GAM in Turin, forging a permanent bond between Nannucci and Turin. And Monk — who is from Britain— can consider himself at home in Turin too, as he has been collaborating since 2000 with gallerist Sonia Rosso. In 2009, on her invitation, Monk created the Lira Hotel (one of the names Alighiero Boetti had considered for his One Hotel in Kabul) where sleeping becomes an experience of full immersion in Monk's work as he 'decorated' a mini-apartment for the project at Via Giulia di Barolo 11.
The concept of authorship — a major force in Nannucci's work and often interrogated by Monk in a number of pieces wryly reworking works of others — is a basis for the dialogue between the two artists. For Quartz Studio, Monk and Nannucci created two neon works — Nannucci's preferred mode of expression and often used by Monk too. Both works, SOME WORDS WRITTEN BY SOMEONE ELSE FOR SOMEONE ELSE by Nannucci and Untitled (Via Luigi Santini, Roma) by Monk, are made in two different shades of blues and refer both in words and symbols to someone 'other' than themselves. In this intent to dialogue, the dynamic the two artists deploy is not limited merely to their identities; it opens to other subjects and forms of sharing, in a careful process of artistic reworking including the past and the present of eminent artists they knew, and the paradoxical identity behind anonymous street graffiti. Part of the osmotic design approach they implemented for Quartz Studio is the reworking of Manifesto (Poster), an Alighiero Boetti work from 1967 in which the last names of friends that Boetti had listed in the original are replaced by those chosen by Monk and Nannucci themselves, paired with other cryptic symbols.
Maurizio Nannucci (Florence, Italy, 1939) Since the mid 1960s, Nannucci has been a major figure in international experimental art in concrete poetry, Fluxus, and conceptual art. Since 1967 (with "Alfabetofonetico"), Nannucci has created an extensive anthology of neon light texts, forming a linguistic repertoire in which varied meanings and a fresh perception of the space forge powerful connections to the work's surroundings, both the architecture and the urban landscape. Also starting in the mid 1960s, Nannucci started to explore the complex relationships between art, language and images, spurring him to create original conceptual work, adopting diverse media, including neon, photography, video, sound, publications and artist books. His work's spatial component and expressive power are based on ideas about light, time, space and words, leading to collaborations with Renzo Piano (“Polifonia” for the Auditorium of Rome, 2002), Stephan Braunfels (“Blauer Ring” for the Library of the German Parliament in Berlin, 2003), Massimiliano Fuksas, Nicholas Grimshaw, Mario Botta, and Claudio Silvestrin.
He has had over three hundred shows in museums and galleries, has been featured at the Venice Bienniale several times and has taken part in Documenta Kassel as well as the Sao Paolo, Sydney, Istanbul, and Valencia biennials. His public installations include: “Art,” 1988, Carpenter Center at Harvard University in Cambridge; “You can imagine the opposite,” 1991, Lenbachhaus, München; “Let’s talk about art, maybe,” 1993, Bank Building, Edinburgh; “Transit, a light journey,” 2000, Architecture Biennale, Venice; “All art has been contemporary,” 1998, Gam Turin; “What to see what not to see,” 2003, Valencia Biennial; “Changing place…,” 2004, Peggy Guggenheim Foundation, Venice; “Index,” 2005, Enssib, University of Lyon; Museum Der Moderne, Salzburg, 2008; Hubbrücke, Magdeburg, 2008; the Uffizi, Florence, 2010; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 2011; Stazione Leopolda, Florence, 2013.
Jonathan Monk (Leicester, UK, 1969) often appropriates ideas, works, and strategies from Conceptualist and Minimalist artists of the '60s and '70s. With photographs, sculpture, film, installation, and performance, his works recontextualize and rework these quotations, often infusing them with Monk's personal history and working-class family upbringing. These aspects add a humanizing and down-to-earth sensibility to the original works' utopian ideals and notions of artistic genius. Monk's extensions and reinterpretations of seminal works by John Baldessari, Ed Ruscha, and Sol LeWitt, among others, challenge authenticity, authorship, and value in art with quirky humor and wit. Monk’s work has been exhibited extensively throughout the world, including in solo shows at CAC Malagá, W139 in Amsterdam, Artpace in San Antonio, the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, Tramway in Glasgow, Centre for Contemporary Arts in Glasgow, Centre d'Art Contemporain in Neuchatel, Museum Kunst Palast in Dusseldorf, Institute of Contemporary Art in London, and Kunstverein Hannover. Group exhibitions are numerous and include the Taipei Biennial, Berlin Biennale, Venice Biennale, Whitney Biennial, Prague Biennale, and Panama Biennial. In 2012, Monk was honored with the Prix du Quartier des Bains in Geneva. His works have been exhibited in many museums and international collections, including Los Angeles County Museum of Art, LACMA, Los Angeles, CA; Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden; MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt am Main, Germany; Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; Norton Collection, Santa Monica, CA; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY; Statens Museum für Kunst, Copenhagen, Denmark, and Tate Modern, London, England.