martedì 29 marzo 2016

Enrico Cattaneo, the photographer of the artists

Enrico Cattaneo was born in Milan, Italy, on September the 4th, 1933. He studied to become engineer at the "Politecnico di Milano", but during this period of time, in the '50s, he discovered, with some other students, a photographic laboratory inside the University, so they started to developing and printing their photos in this place. 
After a while, these students passed more time taking photos and printing then studying mathematics or physics. They were Franco Vaccari, Toni Nicolini and Enrico Cattaneo: all of them became professional photographers. Franco Vaccari (Modena June, 18th 1936) was interested in poetry, cinema and arts, his father was already a professional photographer in Modena. Toni Nicolini (Milano 1935-2012) was interested in photo-reportage, he documented the farmers migration from the South of Italy to the more industrialized North, with the painter Ernesto Treccani. Enrico Cattaneo deals exclusivly with contemporary art, documenting the activities of the art galleries in Milan and shooting the artists' work.

COUM Performance - 1976 Galleria d'Arte Borgogna Milano - Enrico Cattaneo photo

COUM Transmission was not just a group of Performance-art, it was an idea connected to the Living Theatre, a libertarian philosophy in which it was possible to explore dreams and obsessions, the potential of alternative and radical choices also in the artistic circuits and traditional medias like theater and music. It was a completely different thought (for example, an audience was not only made by university students or professionals, but also by workers and people without specific culture). The original nucleus consisted of Genesis P-Orridge, aka Neal Andrew Megson, who was born in Manchester in 1950, was an expert of Aleister Crowley, and one of the most prolific and extraordinary artists of the English underground. Cosey Fanni Tutti was a former porn actress and there was also a photographer, Peter Sleazy Christopherson.
Their performances orbited around issues like torture, war, psychological techniques of persuasion, strange murders (especially children and psychopaths), forensic pathology, venereology and life in the Nazi's concentration camps. They made more than one hundred and fifty artistic actions between 1969 and 1976, both in galleries and in alternative spaces, in which Genesis drunk blood and urine, used unsterilized needles, lied down on a bed of nails or was enchained and flogged by Cosey. The best-known performances: Prostitution, Ica (London, 19-26 October, 1976) and Gary Gilmore Memorial Society (with Monte Cazazza). After the experience with Coum Transmission, Genesis, Cosey and Peter founded the band Throbbing Gristle. (Source: Dictionary of the Show)

In this selection of pictures of Enrico Cattaneo, we can see a few artistic events occured in Milan in the '70s. Between 1970 and 1974 Milan was the second artistic market after New York.

Urs Luthi Performance, 1974 - Studio Marconi, Milano - Enrico Cattaneo photo

"I've always been very interested in art, but at the beginning, I was doing other things as an amateur. I was taking pictures of landscapes, in those days. I was doing a kind of photography that was very on the edge of amateurism. I did not do the beautiful landscape, I was photographing landfills; in the hallway of my flat I still have some of them hung on the walls I took in 1957. Landfills for me had a social connotation and then, still as an amateur, I also dealt with the first strike of metalworkers, in 1961. Just below, the Breda workers  paraded down here (next to EC flat TG note), it was a great strike against the Tambroni government. On that occasion, I was so unconscious, not having a great newspaper behind to look after these issues, I risked on my own. And the risk was great because then the police did not use his nightstick, but the rifle butt. I was working as a freelance for some secondary newspaper in Milan like "Le Ore", "Settimo Giorno", "Il Corriere Lombardo" and some other. I posted some pictures on: "La Notte", because then there were many newspapers of the afternoon that now are completely gone. This weekly called "Le Ore" became a tabloid newspaper, but then I was not there anymore, thankfully. I was very attentive to the new way of doing photography that was very different from the photographs made by the paparazzi, although in Milan there have never been the stars of the Roman night." Enrico Cattaneo from an interview with TG

Ben Vautier "Action" 1971 Studio Sant'Andrea Milano - Enrico Cattaneo Photo


1. Change the name.
2. Decide what is bad and do it.
3. Never date a work exactly.
4. Go unnoticed.
5. Telling the truth.
6. Copy and imitate.
7. Committing suicide.
8. Doing all that is in our power to make happy another artist.
9. Losing completely his memory.

BEN 1969

Note: Strangely, Tony Graffio is following unconsciously 8 of this 9 points.

Alighiero Boetti - 1968 Galleria De Nieubourg, Milano - Enrico Cattaneo photo

"What do you want the critics know of me... Do you know where my embroidery come from? From my mother that made them do to kits for the Turin girls. And you know where she kept the models of those embroideries? Inside used envelopes for letter. Embroidery, envelopes, stamps... It all comes from there." Alighiero Boetti from: The adventurous life of A.B.

"Milan was the capital of the world: everything happened here. Even in our field who later became photography. Milan was certainly the centre of Italy and perhaps of Europe. All the most important publishers were here, all the major industries were here, so you found yourself around an extremely lively and active world. From an editorial point of view, there were at least two newspapers: the "Europeo" and "Epoca" of Mondadori who had their teams of editorial salaried photographers that regularly sent their shots from all over the world, from Vietnam to Chile. They were very few and certainly our desire would have always been to become one of them." Enrico Cattaneo from an interview with TG

Otto Müehl, Sharon Tate murder(Der Tod der Sharon Tate) - 1969 Galleria d'Arte "Milano" - Enrico Cattaneo photo

"In Milan there was everything, but it lacked the movie industry, although some attempts were being made also in this field. In Milan were shot very important films, such as: "Rocco and his brothers" by Luchino Visconti, "The night" by Antonioni, "Miracle in Milan" by De Sica and even Ermanno Olmi's filmography begins here with "The place" which is a typical Milanese history. These films spoke of us because I identified myself in a group which included the young escapees from the Circolo Fotografico Milanese." Enrico Cattaneo from an interview with TG

Jean Tinguely, 1970, during a very famous performance in Duomo square, Milan - Enrico Cattaneo photo.

"Every time Tinguely was here (in the flat where now lives EC. TG note) with Niki, then he organized the performance of this huge phallus that burst into Duomo square, creating endless controversy, Christo covered the statue of Vittorio Emanuele II in Piazza del Duomo, creating more controversy with the monarchists who asked and obtained to remove its cover from the statue, with big anger of Tinguely. To console the artists, the municipality of Milan allowed them to cover the Leonardo da Vinci statue in Piazza della Scala. But it was something else, Vittorio Emanuele II monument was very large. There are very spectacular Mulas' and Berengo Gardin's photographs of that performance. Unfortunately, I missed that event (the Christo's performance of the covering of the V.E. II statue. TG note) because I was busy elsewhere. I think that is a big hole in my archive." Enrico Cattaneo from an interview with TG

Ambiente (1974) On a project of Piero Manzoni dating around 1962, Germano Celant brought 100 white hens at the Toselli Art Gallery hoping to have white eggs to remember previous Manzoni's performaces where the artist marked the eggs with his fingerprints. Enrico Cattaneo photo

"Piero Manzoni had probably spoken voice with Celant about his project of the hens which then he carried it out at Toselli Art Gallery 11 years after the Milanese artist's death. The original documents of that project were not found, but in those years there were so many performances and cultural activities that also historians have difficulty finding papers. Celant hoped the hens produced a few eggs, but I doubt that this could have been happened in an art gallery." E.C.

Enrico Cattaneo
Enrico Cattaneo (82), photographer and artist, on the terrace of the flat where he lives since 40 years. Tony Graffio Photography