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To browse Academia. Skip to main content. By using our site, you agree to our collection of information through the use of cookies. To learn more, view our Privacy Policy. Log In Sign Up. Self-portrait of a Woman: Carla Lonzi's Autoritratto. Laurent Schmid et al. Giovanna Zapperi. Edizioni, From that moment on, Lonzi ded- icated all her energy to feminism, where she would quick- ly become a central figure. We could even say that this volume is a virulent attack on art criticism as it was practiced in It- aly at the time.

The rela- tion between the texts and the images is clearly more complex, drawing an affective geography where art- work reproductions mix with intimate images. Her use of montage, oral expression, exchange, and sharing make Autoritratto a significantly experimental book, deeply driven by the tension that motivated Lonzi at that time: the tension between her desire to give up her authority as an art critic and to find an authorial position able to reinvent itself based on that rejection.

Autoritratto, already from the title, puts the I of the au- thor at the center but does so starting from a horizon- tal, non-hierarchical relation with the other voices— those of the artists—woven throughout the book.

After its publication in , this book was for a long period forgotten, until the recent republication Carla Lonzi, Autoritratto, Milan, ed. The original edition was published by De Donato Bari in This art world was also guided by an idea of art that focused on grand narratives, a no- tion feminist critique has never stopped deconstruct- ing since: the myth of genius and originality, the au- tonomy of artwork and its supposed neutrality.

In the short, unti- tled text that she gave him, she discussed her past engagements and reaffirmed her reasons for distancing herself. See G. Celant dir. See A. Only at the end of the first decade of the 21st century did a new generation of scholars take interest in her writings, trying to update the possible connection between a feminist history of art in Italy and a history of Italian feminism.

Photo: Pietro Consagra. Courtesy Archivio Pietro cannot settle for the indispensable reevaluation of Consagra, Milan image reproduite dans Autoportrait. Time, Space, and the Archive, London, Routledge, , pp. We might say that rediscovering Carla Lonzi as an art critic shares the same—discon- tinuous and nonlinear—timeline that characterizes the rediscovering of woman artists who have punctu- ated prestigious international exhibitions over the last decade or so.

The echo provoked by this text, associated with her char- ismatic personality, meant that she would soon occu- py a central position in the history of Italian femi- nism. Conte et al. Diario di una femminista, Milan, Scritti di Rivolta Femminile, , p. Lonzi experienced feminism as a chance for self-expression and a political awareness that she had not found alongside artists. Ivi, p. This complexity can also be detailed with the numerous el- ements that lead to a bleed through between her writ- ings on art and those on feminism, beginning from the discursive approaches and the forms of writing that she adopted.

These elements are a clear call back to the style used in Futurist man- ifestos. A Post- modern Signature. Pollock dir. Private diary writing indeed marks a new phase for Lonzi after her —72 writings, collected in a book in Carla Lonzi, Sputiamo su Hegel e altri scritti, Milano, Scritti di Rivolta Femmi- From this nile, new edition: Milan, et al.

This question is the object of an essay by Judith Russi Kirshner dedicated to Carla Lonzi, Lea Vergine, and Anne-Marie Sauzeau—two feminist art critics active in Italy in the s and s—in the wider context of Italian feminism. Art and the Feminist Revolution, cat. In her short preface, Lonzi dates the vari- ous conversations between and , specifying that she had interviewed most of the artists more than once with the exception of Fontana, Pascali, Rotella, Scarpitta, and Twombly.

VII [our translation]. In this way, it opens a unique door to the whole epoch, an entire generation, and a precise social and geographic context. In this uninterrupted conversation, Carla Lonzi is one of the characters in the book: she speaks up to express her opinion on the topics addressed in the same way the artists do; she rarely poses questions, privileging listening and participation.

In par- ticular, Lonzi speaks many times about the reasons that led her to record the interviews and her discon- tent with working as a critic. On the contrary, picking up a tape recorder and recording conversations conse- quently becomes an act of liberation: participation re- places intellectual control.

If one considers that Lonzi herself had been a student of Roberto Longhi, one of the most influential art histo- rians of the time, this attack against art criticism as institutionalized knowledge also represents a radical questioning of her own life.

Olschki Editore, Carla Lonzi had received a classical education at the University of Florence, where a positivist spirit focused on mono- graphs characterized the department of art history, adopting the objectivity of vision as an epistemologi- cal foundation. Roberto Longhi — is a central figure in art history in Italy; he was a professor at the Uni- versity of Bologna — and then Florence from , an art critic, and founder of the reviews Proporzioni and Para- gone He is notably the author of essays on Piero della Franc- esca, Caravaggio, and Boccioni.

A very influential teacher among others, Pasolini was one of his students , he developed an inno- vative style of writing that was even compared to that of Carlo Emilio Gadda. In particular, see Giovanni Previtali dir. Conte, V. Fiorino, V. Martini dir. Producing knowl- edge through the language of art criticism, something Lonzi had done for so many years, started looking like the production of dead knowledge to her because it was incapable of experiencing the present.

So, it is no coincidence that Lonzi calls out to artists to destroy the role of art criticism in the name of radical subjectivation of experiential knowledge. Letter published by M. Baldini, op. We are left with a fragmented subject and a textual agency where the role of the author is drawn taut by the tech- niques of recording and montage. Percorsi e momenti della criti- ca italiana.

Notiziario Arte Contemporanea, n. Ivi, pp. At the heart of the poststructur- alist critique of the author, we also find the myth of intentionality, of the literary work as expression of the I of its author. The answer probably lies in the importance of subjectivity, which is, for Lonzi, always gendered.

Carla Lonzi, Taci, anzi parla, op. In fact, as several feminist theorists have highlighted, the author whose death was decreed in is male, For example, see Kaja Silverman, The Acoustic Mirror. On one hand, the end of the author as the embodiment of male dominance went in the direction of a feminist critique of the phallocentrism of the system of art and its institutions.

On the other hand, being an author could mean something completely different for a woman, above all if we think about that role from the viewpoint of a becoming subject. This question is clearly at the heart of the feminist critique of art history.

Women, Art, and Ide- ology, London, Pandora, In the feminisms of the s, subjectivity is a crucial question for examining forms of female agency. Along the path that led Lonzi to step back from the epistemological structures she had been educated in, her relation with artists is where the process of her own subjectivation is played out. That process, as we now know, is also a goodbye: Autoritratto ended up compromising her possibility of working from inside any standard cultural and artistic framework.

Lonzi had actually sent him a se- ries of questions in , but he never answered; she decided to keep the questions in the book anyway, followed by his silence. Keeping these answerless questions lets us see the process that led Lonzi to disengage from— that is, unravel—the intellectual attitudes of the lan- guage that would still be in vogue in Italian art histo- ry departments for a long time to come.

So, the change in tone seen between the questions and the other parts of the text shows that the conver- sation montage entails a layered timescale, and that, in a way, the reader actually meets Carla Lonzi in differ- ent moments of the s.

The questions sent to Cy Twombly also play a special role in the textual balance because he is the only American artist in the book.

Cy Twombly moved to Rome in A short while later from , when she first recorded with Fabro , this will lead her to formulate her concerns about the activity of art criticism itself. While Lonzi wrote her questions before sending them to Twom- bly, in the later interviews, she freely formulated her questions during the conversations. Ameri- can artists embody the most recent trends where the sheer economic force behind the promotion their work imposes its laws on an art market that is already well on its way to becoming global.

Likewise, Pascali compares the sense of action that is inherent, according to him, in American art and the contem- plative nature of art that shackles European artists pp. American artists are seen in an ambiva- lent way as the people that must be challenged, often in the name of different causes like anti-capitalism or the defense of the European artistic tradition.

Dal mira- colo economico agli anni Ottanta, Rome, Donzelli, pp. Besides, most of the questions had been focused on the fact that he was one of the American artists who had been most influenced by European tradition. Includ- ing him in a book where the clash with American art is seen in a rather dramatic way could not be just a co- incidence, especially if we remember that Autoritratto had been in large part assembled in the United States.

By contrast, his interview, re- corded in the U. He is clearly indifferent to the question of American cultural hegemony, and his societal worries are always conveyed through his work; he talks about his childhood, his art, and the techniques he adopts, often describing them in detail and with humor. This contrast jumps out at the reader: here, there is no trace of the tensions evoked above that are often the expres- sion of a deep uneasiness with the strains that artists in Italy faced in the s.

The particular rela- tion that Lonzi establishes with these artists ends up leaving free reign to openly criticize Italian art crit- ics. This text is integrally included in the pages of Autoritratto, p.

Feminism will supply Carla Lonzi with a critical vocabulary able to propel her to the heart of the social, cultural, and political experi- ences of her time. Carla Lonzi, Sputiamo su Hegel, op. The clash between hippies and students was also evi- dent in the transgression of sexual roles: the hippies, writes Lonzi, experiment with non-patriarchal life- styles that refused to separate the public and private. Idem, pp. They gave body and voice to a gender blur that transformed their lives by mixing feminine and masculine.

The encumbering presence of the United States throughout the conversations is also a sign of the times when the book was assembled, between and These years include the events and the begin- nings of an international feminist movement: toward the end of the s, the first texts from American feminism began circulating in Italy along with the practice of consciousness raising, something Lonzi would adopt shortly thereafter in her Rivolta Femminile col- lective.

On Carla Lonzi and the beginnings of Italian feminism, see M.


Reimagining the Family Album: Carla Lonzi's Autoritratto (1969)

What has society made of me? Who am I? Lonzi ceaselessly questions her sense of self, the place society had assigned to her, refusing to conform to social roles and fixed identities. An art critic, a feminist, a poet, a woman, but above all a subject seeking freedom, Carla Lonzi represents a unique figure in the history of Italian feminism. I discussed her radical life and thought with writer and researcher Giovanna Zapperi.


Carla Lonzi

As Italy celebrates the th anniversary of its unification, the country passes through a rather dark moment in which the political economy and the power of the media seem to be in league against the artistic and intellectual resources of the country while contributing to the degradation of the image of women. Paolini: Teresa playing the part of Joan of arc in prison, Collezione Anna Paolini Piva, Torino. The reader thus finds her or himself navigating this flux of somewhat disconnected discussions, occasionally interrupted by snapshots— everything devoid of information— which depict the artists and the author in moments of disarming familiarity, as if the conversations actually issued simple dinner among friends, which just happened to be recorded. Consagra in his studio in Via Margutta, Rome, Courtesy Archivio Pietro Consagra.

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