Art for Modern Architecture – Years of Lead (1976-77), 2017
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‘Art for Modern Architecture’ is a series of collages begun in 2004 by Marine Hugonnier. Each work consists of the front page of a newspaper with its images obscured by small overlays of coloured paper. For a number of years, Hugonnier cut her overlays from Line, Form, Color (a book by the American painter, Ellsworth Kelly) but, from 2009 onwards, the artist has created her own cut-outs. That is not to say that Kelly’s influence has disappeared from Hugonnier’s collages. His notion that art should always serve a structural function remains implicit in Hugonnier’s choice of medium: the newspaper, after all, boasts a significant influence on the structures social living.
These collages—belonging to a subset of ‘Art for Modern Architecture’ created in response to Pietro Consagra’s art—adopt a vintage edition of the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera. They are dated 1976-77: the peak of the Years of Lead (1969-80). Indeed, many of the headlines refer to tragedies which took place within Milan during this era of left-wing terror tactics (‘Bomb in Brescia’; ‘A woman killed, eight people injured’ etc.); the article top left of the 1976 newspaper, however, has a more international tenor, describing Spain’s attempts to elect a government in the aftermath of Franco’s death. This newspaper thus sees a left-wing revolution meet the memory of a fascist regime—a meeting which, in the artistic context, seems to point to the grotesque affinity between all extremist politics.
By covering up the pictures accompanying these editions, Hugonnier questions the jurisdictions of propaganda, spectacle and power. She also encourages a dialectic relationship to form between artwork and viewer. When approaching the collage, we are not given information upfront; instead, we must employ our imagination or engage our memory of the atrocities recorded in order to construct a notion of what lies behind blocks of yellow and black.