From July 10th until September 30th 2015, Tornabuoni Art presents for the first time in its Parisian space, the work of Action Music pioneer Giuseppe Chiari (Florence, 1926-2007), one of the main Italian members of the neo-Dada artistic movement Fluxus
With forty works chosen between the 1960s and 1990s, the exhibition outlines the career of Giuseppe Chiari, who was known among the contemporary avantgarde, for his musical performances in which he deviates instruments from their original function and reappropriates himself objects normally linked to day-to-day life. Influenced by Bruitism and Futurist theatre, he developed a musical language no longer limited to the scales and sounds emitted by musical instruments, but that integrates all the noises of everyday life: « a single sound is music », writes Chiari ( Fantamusicologia , 1998). In his work, the artist puts into question the fragmentation of the arts, which he judges artificial and contradictory. The sheet music exhibited at the Tornabuoni Art gallery is witness to an interpretative action of music. It offers a spontaneous, intuitive, multi-sensorial, or even synesthetic interpretation of the music it describes, gesturally activated through sight rather than hearing. Chiari thus rids himself of traditional media for musical expression, proving that gouache can convey it as well as a piano. In line with Fluxus poetics, Chiari produces collages and experiments, all the while engaging with day-to-day life and current events. Alongside phrases like humorous haikus, the exhibited works illustrate Fluxus’ anti-definition of art: neither as artifice, because they use sub- or un-conscious human interactions; nor as non-functional leisure, because they work with science and communication; nor as culture, because they include gags, games and wordplay. Tornabuoni Art thus presents the work of a composer, philosopher and conceptual artist exploring and working beyond the boundaries of art.
About the artist
Born in Florence in 1926, Giuseppe Chiari studied piano and composing at the Florence University, while undertaking a degree in mathematical engineering. He opened a Jazz club in 1947 and turned early on to the artistic sphere, producing multi-media works around music, language and image, which he sees as indissociable and necessary to each other. Artist, philosopher and composer, he is considered the primary Italian representative of what he calls « Action Music », music elaborated on the basis of a complex execution to which respond traditional instruments, as well as random sounds (from nature and the environment, water, stone, etc.). In 1961 he founded the « Vita Musicale Contemporanea » (contemporary musical life) association with Pietro Grossi, where he met Sylvano Bussotti and Heinz Klaus Metzger, who introduced him to the international avant- garde. With Bussotti, Chiari organized the international traveling exhibition « Musica e Segno », which reached Europe and the United States. At this time, Chiari did an act of « artistic declaration » (Migliorati, 2012), which foregrounded the direction of his artistic research by laying a pair of scissors on his piano keyboard at the end of a concert. Chiari then became a member of the Gruppo 70 in Florence that was formed in 1962 and that proposed a new form of expression under the name of « poesia visiva » (visual poetry), based on interdisciplinarity and the « potentialisation of artistic language through the synergy of different codes of expression in order to attain the same immediacy and efficiency of communication as speech and modern publicity » (Torselli, 2007). He explored this concept in his work within the Fluxus movement, which he joined in 1962, thus integrating a group of international artists that aimed at breaking the traditional barriers between different forms of artistic expression in order to question the very definition of art. In 1972, Chiari took part in the Venice Biennale for the first time – he participated again in 1976 and 1978 – and in Dokumenta in Kassel, while continuing to perform around the world, in Bremen, Berlin, Vienna, Graz, Cologne, Düsseldorf, Geneva, Montreal, New York and Philadelphia. However, in his autobiography ( Autoritratto , 2008), Chiari chose to evoke his improvisation of Cento elementi liberi at the Museo Pecci in Prato in 1990, rather than his prestigious exhibitions. Giuseppe Chiari exhibited in museums around the world – Kunstmuseum Luzern, Luzern, 1973; Centre d’Art Contemporain, Geneva, 1979; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, 1993; Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, 1994 and Palazzo Fabroni, Pistoia, 2000 and 2004 – and his works can be found in important museum collections around the world, including the Musée Cantonal d’Art de Lugano, and the MoMA in New York. He died in Florence in 2007.