Art for Modern Architecture – Years of Lead (1977), 2017
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In 2004, Marine Hugonnier began a series, ‘Art for Modern Architecture’, in which she took the front page of a newspaper and concealed its images with colourful cut-outs taken from Ellsworth Kelly’s book Line, Form, Color. In 2009, she stopped extracting her overlays from Kelly’s book and began creating them herself with paper silkscreened in the standard hues of a kodak colour chart: red, blue, green, yellow, magenta and black. While Hugonnier’s process changed, Ellsworth Kelly remained a significant influence on the collage series. In particular, his belief that art can serve a structural function remained embedded in the artist’s use newspaper pages. These are, after all, documents with a heavy impact upon social structures.
This particular collage comes from a recent incarnation of ‘Art for Modern Architecture’, in which Hugonnier responds to the art of Pietro Consagra. For this reason, the newspaper grounds come from vintage editions of the Italian Corriere della Sera, dated 1977—a year around the middle of Consagra’s most productive period. By 1977, the Years of Lead (1969-1980) were well underway in Italy: the extremist left-wing organisation known as the Red Brigade had formed in 1970, and had been carrying out more and more regular terror attacks ever since its conception. The newspapers which Hugonnier uses naturally focus upon this state of turmoil. The headlines describe kidnappings, bomb attacks, assassinations, violent protests and fires.
By hiding the images which accompany these headlines, the artist sabotages and questions the systems of propaganda, spectacle and power which journalistic photography bolster. She also encourages the viewer to engage more actively with the artwork, demanding that we bring our own memories of the reported news—or else our imagined versions of it—to fill in the collages’ blanks.