Curated by the New York-based curator Tina Kukielski, in collaboration with the Archivio Mulas, a distinct bodies of works demonstrating the wide breadth of Mulas’s life and career will be on view simultaneously at both the Naples and Milan galleries.
By the time of his untimely death in 1973, Ugo Mulas was recognized as a master of portraiture, reportage, fashion and advertising photography. He photographed artists and artworks during one of the most dynamic periods in the history of art, the 1960s, when he portrayed the likes of Jasper Johns, Alexander Calder, Andy Warhol, Marcel Duchamp and countless members of the Italian avant-garde like Lucio Fontana. Lesser known is the work Mulas made at the end of the 1960s, work that explores the conceptualist potential of photography at that time. This exhibition features this robust period of experimentation centered in the artist’s studio dating from 1969-1973. Complimenting this late period in Mulas’s career are selections of the artist’s lesser-known color work and a few standout examples of the artist’s enlarged contact sheets, a motif that found recurrence in Mulas’s work following a seminal trip to New York City in 1964. Collaborating with Bruno Munari and Luciano Caramel, Mulas co-organized Campo Urbano, an exhibition of performances and events that took place on the streets of Como in 1969. Recognizing the photograph as inherently performative in its own right, Mulas shot sequences of images askew and oblique at times that played with the unpredictable, ephemeral quality of the happenings. Often printed and enlarged directly from the contact sheets, Mulas’s Campo Urbano works subvert the narrative, chronological framing of the event to become something else entirely, another kind of art work or experience. The contact sheet would be the readymade that Mulas would most frequently return to throughout his career. At the gallery in Naples, contact sheets including the rarely seen sequences of Jasper Johns and Roy Lichtenstein, Pino Pascali and Andy Warhol will also be included alongside selections from Campo Urbano. Featured in Milan, will be the artist’s prelude to his best-known Verifications series, also on view upstairs. Known as the Verification proofs, these mostly black photographs printed directly from blank negatives and left uncropped challenge the language and temporality of the picture frame, opening up the photograph to something more than a simple record of a moment, time or place. In focusing on the machinery of picture-making, Mulas presents us with a compelling new face for art, as vivid today as it was at the time of first exposure.

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