Nadia Costantini was born in Mirano (Venice) in 1944, she trained at the Istituto Statale d'Arte and then at the Venetian Academy of Fine Arts, where she followed the courses of Bruno Saetti and Carmelo Zotti. In the sixties his painting was affected by the abstract-informal formation and his proposals, which were born from an emotional tension, were translated on the canvas with intense colors, vigorous signs and full-bodied matter. The result was compositions variously aimed at encroaching beyond the constraint of the space-framework, with stylistic oscillations that a posteriori must be evaluated as moments of introspective analysis, as a path necessary to identify one's own figure from which to proceed with determination. Much of these works have been lost or destroyed by the artist herself; unfortunately, let's say today, considering that those "survivors" are qualitatively interesting. In the following decade the detachment from the abstract-informal took place gradually, at intervals, beginning to rationalize the compositions with the insertion of photographic images, creating collages of faces and figures evocative of real events. In 1978 she was one of the founders of the Verifica 8+1 group, which for thirty consecutive years kept a gallery active in Venice-Mestre – with the intention of functioning as a documentation and information center, also favoring educational purposes – which has become a reference point for Italian and foreign artists engaged in the search for new languages. In the meantime, the turning point towards total rationality had matured: in fact, definitively abandoned the gestural brushstroke, the image now took shape based on geometric elements, previously studied and designed to express optical dynamisms. Then began the series of Surface Modulations, in which on compact and dark backgrounds the color, soberly organized with sign rigor, became vibrating light thanks to both tonal and contrast modulations. This production, which lasted until 1990, was followed by a first incursion into the three-dimensional with works made with sheets of soft polyethylene, conceived so that from a part left whole departed strips cut ad hoc to form different volumes. These stripes had to fall bitely into space, making it become a participatory element of three-dimensionality. Supple and apparently light were made in small and large sizes. After a long pause for reflection, the artist returned to painting in 1998 with the rhythmic "Surface Scans" – still under continuous study and development – characterized by a palette with disruptive lighting effects, in which the colors combined to enhance each other – in a relationship of light-shadow, often orchestrated by the domination of black – become a constructive element of compositions that produce illusionistic optical games; in the sense that they can give the impression of projecting elements or, on the contrary, recessed, depending on the intensity of the concentration with which they look at each other. In parallel, it resumed the creation — now carried out systematically — of three-dimensional works using plastic materials with the already experimented working method of the single sheet partially cut into strips. With more complex inventions he obtained unprecedented results of aesthetic suggestion combining in the same work the double value of two-dimensionality and three-dimensionality. These works, in fact, when they are "closed" — one could almost say "in a state of rest" — are flat and furrowed by cuts; they are those cuts that will allow them once "opened" to reach out into space, or to hover in it light and voluminous. "Cutting, uniting, grouping, tensioning, forcing bands that arise from simple geometric shapes and then freeing themselves in fluctuating spatial directions, this is the meaning of my research aimed at empathically structuring the space": this is the poetics of this artist, explained by herself. The more recent adoption of steel, polished or in a satin version, increases the amazement of the combination of volume and lightness, since these works seem even more sculpted in the air. Variously called Torsions, Surface Flows or Floating, their natural derivation from the pictorial work is evident, and the author explains it well: "as the pictorial bands moving dynamically in apparent three-dimensionality in the field of the painting give rise to complex forms, as well as the plastic material and the cut steel, also in bands, which I use as a three-dimensional artistic language, it develops in more complex and elaborate configurations than the original ones". Configurations that to be fully grasped require the observer to look at the work from several points of view, to detect how much it changes in shape, giving the impression of being more sculptures in one. Since 1968 Nadia Costantini has dedicated herself to teaching at the art institutes of Venice and Padua, where she held courses in pictorial decoration (lacquer and gilding), decorative painting (fresco and other mural techniques), drawing from life and finally visual education, becoming passionate about the latter subject and experimenting with her students works focused on optical illusions, on the ambiguities of the form, on the apparent three-dimensionality, up to the kinetic forms. To close the portrait of this artist, who lives and has her studio in the Venetian hinterland, it should be noted her shy temperament, her secluded work, which – it must be said – has not benefited a deserved notoriety of her "programmed" works, made with wise and extraordinary formal finesse. Among the exhibitions with his works to remember those in Venice at the Galleria Bevilacqua La Masa in 1969 and 1981; those in which he participated together with the artists of Verifica 8+1 in Venice-Mestre, Turin, Brescia, Bergamo, Florence, Rome, Bologna; and the most recent at PaRDeS contemporary art research laboratory in Mirano-Venice and in 2010 at the Civic Museum of Santa Caterina in Treviso.
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Nadia Costantini - Programmed ArtProgrammed or Kinetic Art is an international art movement that has left an indelible mark on 20th-century art. Umberto Eco uses the term "Programmed Art" to present the historic exhibition at the Olivetti in Milan in 1962, organized by Bruno Munari. The great critic Giulio Carlo Argan calls it "arte gestaltica", while Lea Vergine will definitively establish its importance in Italy by describing it as the Last Vanguard, in the eponymous retrospective at the Royal Palace in Milan in 1984. The Programmed or Kinetic Art but also optical art have a common genesis: they arise from the innovative study, by artists, of the mechanisms of vision, optical and bright phenomena, in line with scientific advances from the post-war period onwards. All over the world, both informal and abstraction in painting no longer satisfy the search for young artists. Looking at Marcel Duchamp, Futurism - or more recent experiences such as the research of Bruno Munari,who already in the 1930s made "Useless Machines", and published the Manifesto of mcchinism in 1952 - we want to be able to create works that really involve the viewer, visually but also psychologically, and definitively overcome the concept of art as representation and expression: finally art becomes experience, and then it will be even environment. No in secondary importance, it is also the push of new artists to work in groups, so aggregations of artists are born who try to overcome the individualism of the figure of the artist: in Italy the first will be the MAC – Concreta Art Movement (formed around Munari himself) and later Group T in Milan and Group N in Padua. Important for Italian artists will be the experience of Azimuth, gallery and magazine animated by Piero Manzoni and Enrico Castellani. Although they are not expressly part of the movement, the innovative, monochrome, anti-figurative works of the two artists – along with those of their neighbours such as Agostino Bonalumi and Dadamaino, will be very important to pave the way for the experimentation of the Programmed Art. The Kinetic or Programmed Art movement is established thanks to contemporary ferments all over the world: Group T in Milan, Group N in Padua, GRAV in Paris, Group Zero in Dusseldorf. In America the trend is called Optical Art or Op-Art (as opposed to Pop-art, which dominated the scene in the 1960s). In Zagreb the movement finds a supporter in the critic Marko Mestrovic, who organizes the international events "Nova Tendencije"(New Tendency),in which all young Italian artists participate. Not only Enzo Mari, Manzoni, Bonalumi and Castellani, but also Getulio Alviani will be among the most active Italians in "Nova Tendencije", which will also become an international movement. Alviani'sworks, using the treated aluminum sheet, look for continuous visual tensions between reflection, visual ambiguity, apparent movement, light and vibration, using as a "motor" the visual interaction of the metal with the viewer's gaze. Marina Apollonio also joined the movement in 1965, encouraged by the encounter with Alviani, and as the latter uses modern industrial materials, to create structured works that transform into dynamic surfaces (metallic reliefs to alternating chromatic sequences) or that seek the apparent movement with optical geometric effects (Circular Dynamics). In Milan, the Arte Programmata is well represented by Group T, founded by Davide Boriani and Gabriele De Vecchi, to which Gianni Colombo, Giovanni Anceschi and finally Grazia Varisco are added. The group's first exhibition , Miriorama 1 , was in 1960 at the Pater Gallery (Gallery where Paolo Scheggi and Vanna Nicolotti will also exhibit at that time, with their three-dimensional canvases of several overlapping floors). Group T presents works in motion, consisting of mechanisms that animate them, without any representative intent. Colombo uses motors to move its surfaces; in those of Anceschi is the colored liquid that flows in tubes that can be moved by the hands of the viewer; while Boriani's magnetic surfaces use magnets and iron dust to get the work moving. Grazia Varisco creates works moved by mechanical motors and internal luminescence (variable light schemes) and structures in mobile industrial materials animated by multifaceted glass that breaks down its shapes. From the idea of work in motion through visual effects we then move to works that actually move on their own, or sometimes - in open break with the past - the viewer is asked to operate them directly with their own hands. Frequent exchanges and co-operations in exhibitions are with the N Group of Padua, formed shortly after Group T, by young people from architectural and industrial design studios: Alberto Biasi,Ennio Chiggio, Toni Costa, Edoardo Landi, Manfredo Massironi. They too embrace the new concept of art and are particularly active in popularizing it (for example, bringing to Padua the exhibition "The new artistic conception", by the Azimuth Gallery, in 1960), and accentuate the importance of the conceptual approach: the exhibition "No one is invited to take part" is a striking example. From Group N, the personality of Alberto Biasi,the group's animator, emerges that addresses in his works the themes of kineticism and visual perception, among the first works the "Trame", in which he studies the interference of the movement of the gaze on layered surfaces, and the "Optical-dynamic reliefs", lamelular structures with contrasting chromaticisms that "activate" thanks to the interaction with the viewer, who moves makes active use of a work in consequent optical movement. Edoardo Landi instead seeks the involvement of the viewer with the optical stimulation given by geometric and elementary forms, excellent examples of Optical compositions for a research that will continue even in the 70s. The Italian painting is complemented by figures who also operate in other cities, such as Franco Costalonga who conducts an in-depth research on optical effects in the work, as in chromokinetic objects in which he will experiment with countless combinations with the use of spherical mirrors. Costalonga participated in the founding of the "Dialettica delle tendenze" and "Verifica 8+1" groups with other Venetian artists in line with the international trend of Programmed Art in the 1960s. The success for the Programmed Art is evidenced by the exhibition of the same name in 1962 at the Olivetti store in Milan, then repeated at the company's headquarters in New York and at the 4th Biennale of San Marino (titled Beyond the Informal) in 1963, and will be definitively sanctioned with the incredible success of the exhibition The Responsive Eye,organized in 1965 by the MoMa in New York (180,000 visitors), in which almost all Italian exponents were exhibited, from Enrico CasteIlani to Getulio Alviani,from Group T to Group N, along with the greatest international artists from Josef Albers to Victor Vasarely.
Tags: Programmed Art - Kinetic Art - Optical Art - Agostino Bonalumi - Getulio Alviani - Manfredo Massironi - Alberto Biasi - Franco Costalonga - Vanna Nicolotti - Kinetism - Chromokine Object - Victor Vasarely - The Responsive Eye - Concrete Art Movement - Grav - Group Zero - Bruno Munari