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 Gianni Bertini  (1922 - 2010)

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Lived/Active: Italy/France      Known for: collage, abstract painting

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Biography from
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Gianni Bertini was born in 1922 in Pisa, Italy.   After World War II, he was in Paris, which at that time was still – despite the interim of the War – considered in artistic and intellectual circles as the world capital of culture, and therefore art.   Pablo Picasso and Pierre Matisse led the way: two dominant figures whose achievements every painter dreamed of matching.

Yet in 1947-48 there suddenly emerged a new generation of artists who threw themselves into abstraction.  Lyrical art*, Informal art, a new school of Paris, Tachisme*... all these terms designated a new approach to painting, now based on the act of painting and the working of matter.

It was, then, perfectly logical for the young Gianni Bertini to embark on his artistic career with works halfway between abstract and figurative art.  His paintings were based on words and motifs taken directly from daily reality.   He was one of the first to realize that abstract art was leading nowhere and that, compared to developments in New York, French art offered a mild-mannered variant of a type of art already in decline.

He became part of the Movimento Nucleare* founded in 1951 by Enrico Baj and Sergio Dangelo to promote a gestural, fantastical style of avant-garde* art.  In their first manifesto (1952) the artists introduced the idea of ‘nuclear painting’ and made it clear that they were striving for a relevant representation of post-War man and his precarious environment.  Arte nucleare  stood in opposition to the powers unleashed in the atomic age and expressed the general fear of imminent and uncontrollable damage from nuclear physics. The artists also reacted against the pictorial disciplines of De Stijl* and all forms of geometric abstraction, pursuing instead the unpredictable effects of Surrealist automatism*.

In 1955, Bertini, Baj and other Arte nucleare artists joined the Mouvement International pour une Bauhaus Imaginiste (MIBI), founded by Asger Jorn.  A further manifesto was released by the Arte nucleare artists in January 1959.  This warned against the negative application of new technology and also found possibilities of a positive, aesthetic development from some aspects of atomic fission.  Although a few Arte nucleare exhibitions were held, the movement did not gain the currency enjoyed by its rival, Art informel, and by the early 1960s had faded from the international arena.

In the 1950s, Bertini also became captivated by signs.  There was no end to the number of the new signs produced in society: public areas were swamped in them. 

His training as a mathematician also came to the fore.  Functional curves, masses balanced according to the strict principles of classical composition... these were his guiding principles from now on.  Alongside his painting, revealing the distant influence of Hartung, Bertini was soon to produce his first collages*, leading naturally to the production of emulsified canvases.  These works placed Bertini in the vanguard of a new movement: Mec-art.

Mec-art* (short for Mechanical  Art) surfaced in 1963, uniting a handful of artists (Pol Bury, Mimmo Rotella, Alain Jacquet) who employed photographic methods to transfer to canvas a composition or collage with an iconography taken directly from magazines.  From Bertini, the process of reproducing mechanical images through painterly means involved appropriating society symbols and inserting them in an autonomous image that was objective in both form and content.  This mechanical reproduction process enabled Bertini to produce numerous versions of the same picture, dealing a decisive blow to the notion of an “original work”. Bertini was one of the first to realize that the ordered world continuously juxtaposes new modes of representation.

His passion for cars, and also for women (or more precisely for representing women) dates from this period.  Gradually, over the next few years, his work became imbued with the mythology of the 1960s and 70s, in a way that was both critical and mildly ironic.  His characters and decors reflected, above all, the absurdity of the modes – and power of the codes – of representation.  It was not until the 1990s that his work regained a certain gravitas.  A series inspired by the Gulf War, and another by female nudes, both amounted to attacks on the “pornography” omnipresent in modern society.

Since the mid-60s and particularly since 1982 when he effected a synthesis of his different styles, Bertini has continued to produce a poetico-sociological form of art which, far from being a simple manipulation of the signs of our society, actually enjoys discarding these signs through the power of a purely pictorial approach.

Solo and Group exhibitions (selected)

Forte Belvedere Firenze
Villa Mazzotti Chiari
Palazzo Reale Milano
Spazio Annunciata Milano

Galleria Colossi Arte Contemporanea, Chiari (Bs)
Galleria Spazia Bologna
Galleria Civica di Arte Moderna Gallarate
Museo Archeologico Statale Spoleto

Grossetti Arte Contemporanea, Milano
Galleria Civica di Modena, Modena
Palazzo D'Accursio Bologna
Bel Art Gallery Milano

Villa Croce Museo dArte Contemporanea, Genova
Grossetti Arte Contemporanea, Milano

Grossetti Arte Contemporanea, Milano

Centro d'arte spaziotempo, Firenze

Galerie de l'europe, Paris
Libreria Les Argonautes, Paris

Quadreria (Bertini-Rotella), Lecco
Galleria del Naviglio, Milano

Libreria-galleria Derbylius (Arte fiera Bologna)

Galleria San Michele, Brescia

Galleria Annunciata Fiera, Bologna
Galleria Arcadia Nuova, Milano

Galleria Annunciata fiera, Bologna
Gallerie Thorigny, Fiac Parigi e Fiera Francoforte
Le Mec Art, fiac Parigi

Galleria Annunciata fiera, Bologna e l'arco, Madrid
Dorothea Keeser galery, Hambourg
Galleria Centro Arte, Milano
Galleria Elleni, Bergano
Galleria Lanza, Verbania, Intra

Galleria Annunciata, Fiera Milano
Galleria Vinciana, Milano
Free Art Torino Galerie la Pochede, Parigi
Galerie Thorigny, Parigi
Galleria Annunciata, Cycle A. Artaud
fiac Parigi

Galleria Annunciata, Milano
Galerie Gastaud, Clermont-Ferrand
Galerie la Pochade, Salon de Mars-Paris
Galleria il Traghetto, Venezia
Studio bellora, Milano
Galleria il Traghetto, Venezia
Studio Bellora, Milano
Galleria Cesarea, Genova

Works in public collections:

Galerie Seine 51, Parigi, Francia
Galleria Bergamo, Bergamo-Italia
Galleria Colossi Arte Contemporanea, Chiari (Bs)-Italia
Frittelli Arte Contemporanea, Firenze-Italia
Spazio Annunciata, Milano-Italia
Galleria Artestudio, Milano-Italia
Studio Gariboldi, Milano-Italia
Galleria Cardelli & Fontana, Sarzana (Sp)-Italia
Nordjyllands Kunstmuseum, Aalborg-Danimarca
LAAC - Lieu d'Art et Action Contemporaine de Dunkerque, Dunkerque-Francia
FRAC - Ile-de-France Le Plateau, Parigi-Francia
Centre Pompidou - Musée National d´Art Moderne, Parigi-Francia
Museum Abteiberg,
Stockolm museum- Sweden
Liegi museum - Belgium
Buenos Aires museum- Argentina
Oslo museum- Norway
Rome - museum
Turin -museum

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