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Note di un pittore, 1963


Notes of a Painter

Graph paper mounted on blank paper, laid down on masonite panel

27.5 x 21 cm

Signed and dated on the verso on a white paper square: "Giulio Paolini 1963"

Fondazione Giulio e Anna Paolini, Turin

Gift of the artist, 25 October 2012, archive no. GPO-0040

A square of graph paper leaves visible the slightly larger blank sheet of paper to which it is only partially attached, while the sheet is trimmed on the left and right sides in order to reveal the panel across which it is stretched. On the verso is a title cut out from a periodical announcing the Italian translation of Henri Matisse’s Notes d’un peintre [Notes of a Painter] (1908).1
This work is part of a group of works (from GPO-0028 to GPO-0049) whose common denominator is the presence of an intervention on both the recto and the verso of the painting. Surfaces of various types take turns appearing on the recto (painted paper, graph paper, photographic reproductions, shaped
wooden panels), while on the verso (hidden from view) we find the details of images and printed words taken from magazines or from books. The title, when specified, refers to a textual element present on the verso. The artist explains that: “Just as on the surface various elements alternate amongst themselves, but always remain ‘blind’, in the sense that they tend not to supply an image, but are there for their own sake, occupying that given space, so the title itself is absolutely autonomous with respect to the surface [...], constituted by a fragment of words and, at times, images, following the signature and the date, on a white paper square on the back of the picture” (1972).2 The subtraction of the painting from its function as a vehicle for an image is a continuation of the study experimented with in some previous works that focus on a subject that, albeit mentioned, remains an unexpressed presence: the title refers to something that isn't visible (in that it is applied to the verso), while the recto presents a mute image or in any case one that is free from any rational relationship with the title.

1 The cut-out is from the monthly art and culture magazine Emporium XLIX, no. 2, vol. XCVII, no. 578, February, 1943, p. 66.
2 G. Paolini in G. Celant, Giulio Paolini (New York: Sonnabend Press, 1972), p. 34; republished in Giulio Paolini 1960-1972, edited by G. Celant (Milan: Fondazione Prada, 2003), p. 122 (revised translation); reprint (Cinisello Balsamo: Silvana Editoriale, 2019), p. 34. Cf. also the artist's remarks in C. Lonzi, Autoritratto (Bari: De Donato Editore, 1969), p. 367; reprint (Milan: Et al./Edizioni, 2010), p. 280; English edition (Brussels-London: Divided Publiishing, 2021), p. 320.

Title from the collected writings by Henri Matisse, Notes d’un peintre, 1908.

G. Paolini in G. Celant, Giulio Paolini (New York: Sonnabend Press, 1972), pp. 30-31; republished in Giulio Paolini 1960-1972, edited by G. Celant (Milan: Fondazione Prada, 2003), p. 122; reprint (Cinisello Balsamo: Silvana Editoriale, 2019).
G. Celant, Giulio Paolini (New York: Sonnabend Press, 1972), pp. 28-31, repr. no. 19 p. 30 (recto); republished in Giulio Paolini 1960-1972, edited by Id. (Milan: Fondazione Prada, 2003), pp. 110, 122; reprint (Cinisello Balsamo: Silvana Editoriale, 2019).
G. Paolini, Suspense. Breve storia del vuoto in tredici stanze (Florence: Hopeful Monster editore, 1988), repr. p. 17 (recto).
F. Poli, "Note di lettura", in Id., Giulio Paolini (Turin: Lindau, 1990), p. 25, not repr.; republished in Giulio Paolini. Von heute bis gestern / Da oggi a ieri, exhibition catalogue, Graz, Neue Galerie im Landesmuseum Joanneum (Ostfildern-Ruit: Cantz Verlag, 1998), p. 39, not repr.
Giulio Paolini 1960-1972, op. cit. (Milan: 2003), repr. p. 87 (recto).
M. Disch, Giulio Paolini. Catalogo ragionato 1960-1999, vol. 1 (Milan: Skira editore, 2008), cat. no. 40 p. 76, col. repr. (recto and verso).
D. Soutif, "Filigrane. Paolini, il primo quadro e la storia dell’arte", in S. Bann et al., Il passato al presente. In tema 2 (Turin-Mantua: Fondazione Giulio e Anna Paolini and Corraini Edizioni, 2016), pp. 89-94, col. repr. p. 91 (recto and verso); republished in French in Les Cahiers du Musée national d’art moderne 137 (Paris), Autumn, 2016, pp. 76, 78-79, repr. pp. 72 (verso), 76 (recto).
V. Fumagalli, Sguardo e memoria. Le corrispondenze tra Giulio Paolini e “Le Cygne” di Charles Baudelaire (Rome: Fondazione Mario Luzi Editore, 2023), repr. p. 145.
Entry by Maddalena Disch , 23/02/2024