Art for Modern Architecture – Years of Lead (1978), 2017
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Marine Hugonnier began ‘Art for Modern Architecture’ in 2004. The series is made up of numerous collages in which the artist takes the front page of a newspaper and obscures its images with coloured patches. Initially, Hugonnier cut these rectangular shapes from Ellsworth Kelly’s book Line, Form, Color; and, in spite of the fact that she now designs her own overlays out of coloured silk printed paper, the ongoing series keeps Kelly’s core principles at its heart: namely, the older artist’s belief that art should occupy public spaces and serve some kind of structural function. This is one reason why Hugonnier makes newspaper pages—documents with an enormous influence on mankind’s social structures—the foundation of her collages.
These two collages use, as their base, vintage editions of the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, dating from 1978. This date is significant because it corresponds to the most prolific period in the career of Pietro Consagra, to whom Hugonnier was responding in this subset of ‘Art for Modern Architecture’. The date also coincides with the Years of Lead in Italy (1969-1980), during which leftist revolutionaries waged a war of terror upon state officials and civilians alike. The newspaper to which Hugonnier fixes a small red rectangle records one of these acts of terror: the kidnapping of statesman Aldo Moro; the newspaper to which she fixes a small yellow rectangle documents Moro’s continuing absence, and platforms an Italian statesman’s demand for more decisive action against the left-wing movement.
By masking the images on these newspaper pages, Hugonnier subverts the typical narratives of propaganda, spectacle and power; and, consequently, she challenges the authority of those narratives. This economy of information—or, rather, outright omission—also cultivates a profusion of meaning: the viewer is denied access to the journalistic image and must therefore engage with the work by remembering or imagining what cannot be seen.