Art for Modern Architecture – Years of Lead (1969), 2017
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Marine Hugonnier began ‘Art for Modern Architecture’—a series of collages featuring newspaper pages, their images overlaid with colourful paper—in 2004. The paper patches were, initially, cut by the artist from Ellsworth Kelly’s Line, Form, Color; since 2009, however, Hugonnier has fashioned the overlays herself, silk screening paper in the standard hues of a kodak colour chart (red, blue, green, yellow, magenta and black) and cutting it to size. Still, Kelly’s influence remains preeminent in Hugonnier’s more recent collages; his faith that art can serve a structural function, for instance, continues to underlie Hugonnier’s medium. Newspapers are, after all, an important prop for the societal structure.
These three collages (along with the collage almost half obscured by a large red rectangle) adopt vintage editions of the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera dated 1969. Hugonnier selects this particular background because these works were created in response to the sculpture of Pietro Consagra, an Italian artist who was entering the most productive period of his career in and around 1969. Not coincidentally, this date was also more broadly significant in Italian history: it marked the beginning of the Years of Lead (1969-1980), an era of great unrest during which leftist revolutionaries waged a war of terror upon state officials and civilians alike. Many of the headlines in Hugonnier’s newspaper collages reflect this state of turmoil: they report the breakdown of agreement within governmental parties, the chain of terror attacks hitting Italian train stations, and the threat of economic crisis.
In omitting the pictures from these newspaper pages, Hugonnier succeeds in undermining the power of spectacle and propaganda. By the same means, she dictates a reciprocal and interactive relationship between artwork and viewer: we must bring either memories or creativity to these collages in order to formulate a notion of the images concealed behind the patches.