Ugo Mulas (Pozzolengo, 1928 – Milan, 1973).
Self-taught, his career developed in contact with the artistic and cultural scene in Milan in the early 50s. Mulas photographed the Venice Biennale exhibitions from 1954 to 1972 and worked in close contact with the artists. In that period the representation of the art world became the photographer’s main focus. After discovering Pop Art at the 1964 Biennale, Mulas went to the United States (1964- 67), where he created his most important reportage, the book ‘New York: The New Art Scene’ (1967). His encounters with Robert Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol, and his discovery of the photography of Robert Frank and Lee Friedlander, influenced his work of the late 60s, in which he moved away from traditional reportage.
Large formats, projections, solarisations and the use of the proof as an aesthetic device are elements that Mulas borrowed from the experimentation of Pop Art and New Dada, and the practical business of photography. In the late 60s he participated in the aesthetic and conceptual renewal of the neo-avantgarde movements. Mulas was also involved in experimental work on theatre, working with the director Virginio Puecher for the sets of Wozzeck by Alban Berg and Benjamin Britten’s The Turn of the Screw, both in 1969.
The decline of the reportage format, superseded by television, led Mulas to profound rethinking of the historic function of photography, and these aesthetic and phenomenological reflections led to his portfolio on Marcel Duchamp (1972) and the project Archivio per Milano (1969-72). His Verifiche (1968-72) were aIso produced in this period: the series of 13 works encapsulates Mulas’ experience and his ongoing dialogue with the art world. A pivotal work in contemporary photography, the Verifiche series was to be his last work, as Mulas died on 2 March 1973, a month before the opening of a retrospective dedicated to his work at the University of Parma, and the publication of his book and final testament, ‘La Fotografia’.
Solo exhibitions have been dedicated to his work by museums and institutions in Italy and abroad, among which: La Triennale, Milan (1960); Kunsthalle, Basel (1971, 1974); Musée Rath, Geneva (1985); Kunsthaus, Zurich (1985); Museo Cantonale d’Arte, Lugano (1990); Fondazione Prada, Milano (1995); Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea and Accademia Carrara, Bergamo (1995); Institute Valencia d’Art Modern, Valencia (1996); MAN Museo d’Arte Moderna, Nuoro (2004); PAC, Milan, MAXXI, Rome, GAM, Turin (2007-2008); Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Rome (2010), Villa Reale, Monza (2015); Fondation Henri Cartier Bresson, Paris (2016); Museo del 900, Milano (2017); Fondazione Magnani Rocca, Parma (2018; Centro Italiano per la Fotografia, Torino (2018); M9, Mestre (2018).