Thursday, October 07, 2010
This lecture explores a series of watercolor-painted sepia photographs that Italian artist Luigi Ontani (b. 1943) realized in India in collaboration with local photographers and hand-colorists. In these photographs, Ontani posed as characters drawn from a variety of Italian and Indian visual sources. For instance, he impersonated religious and mythological figures from old master paintings, Hindu deities from calendar art, and maharajas from miniature paintings and vintage postcards—always with a touch of irony and detachment. Entitled En route vers l’Inde (d’après Pierre Loti) (On the way to India [After Pierre Loti]), the series first received international attention at the Venice Biennale of 1978. Little known in the U.S., Ontani started to embrace appropriation strategies in the late 1960s, nearly a decade before they became a trend in the art world internationally, as in the work of Cindy Sherman.
Anna Mecugni (PhD candidate, The Graduate Center, City University of New York) is a lecturer at MoMA and is at work on her dissertation, A Voyage of Identities: Luigi Ontani and the Postmodern Question in 1970s Italy.
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