For the 2018’s edition of Art Basel Feature ChertLüdde presented Italian artist Franco Mazzucchelli (b. 1939, Milan).

Since the early sixties, Mazzucchelli has been experimenting with synthetic materials, his wide-ranging exploration leading to the giant inflatable sculptures he became known for.

The works were spontaneously installed in the public spaces of cities and in outdoor environments, left without any supervision or protection. These inflatable objects were uncommon to their surroundings and immediately triggered the people’s interest and curiosity, who were compelled to touch, move and play with them, resulting in many different scenarios. The action of abandoning always established a contamination of the city by the artworks: the works were intended to disrupt the perception of a familiar place, be it a more domestic environment, such as a courtyard, or a widely used fragment of the city, and to open an escape from daily routine by suggesting an unfamiliar view and perception of the surrounding space. These unexpected actions and manipulations were documented with photographs and videos by the artist.

The acronym A. to A. was coined by Mazzucchelli to refer to the Art to Abandon series, which he produced and subsequently abandoned in urban spaces. The name originates from the time when he was a young artist’s assistant in Paris. Mazzucchelli grew increasingly disappointed by the mindless production of works and considered abandoning the art world completely. Instead, he reversed the idea and decided to physically abandon his art, inciting a reaction with the environment.

Mazzucchelli called these events “public interventions”. Due to their ephemeral nature and unpredictable outcomes, the artist meticulously documented the events through video and photography.

The main works the gallery presented at Art Basel Feature were two original inflatable 4-meter high yellow cones dating back to 1973. These two sculptures had been part of a public intervention which took place in Volterra in 1973, on occasion of the exhibition Memoria e Prospezione, which became known as Volterra ’73. The original installation included six cones and other inflatable elements, most of which did not survive the event, having been either lost or destroyed. The two cones displayed are the only ones that returned to the artist’s studio.

The presentation was accompanied by a video documenting the public intervention in Volterra, along with five framed compositions on the wall, where the artist assembled and re-elaborated documentary photographs of his works along with fragments of inflatables that have survived over time.

Franco Mazzucchelli, “A. to A. (Priori Square, Volterra)”, late 1970s, felt-tip pen and PVC from the original inflatable artwork on photographic paper, 40 × 30 cm
Franco Mazzucchelli, “A. to A. (Priori Square, Volterra, 1973)”, late 1970s, felt-tip pen, paint and PVC from the original inflatable artwork on photographic paper, 30 × 40 × 3 cm

Photos by Andrea Rossetti