Claudio Costa

Biography

Picture Claudio Costa

1942 Born 22 June in Tirana, Albania. His parents were Italians who had gone to work in Albania before the war.
1945 Returns to Italy with his family. He goes to live temporarily with an uncle in Monleone di Cicagna, in Liguria, where he remains until he is five. He comes into direct contact with the agricultural civilization of the area where it is still largely uncontaminated.
It was to have a great influence on his work.
1950 He Goes to live in Chiavari in a house built by his father, but every summer he returned to the village in the heart of Liguria, absorbing the rough simplicity typical of a peasant environment, where the rigidity of the world in fused with the poetry of the surroundings.
At Chiavari he attends the Liceo Scientifico (Science school). These studies were to influence him later on when he tried to filter his artistic activity through a scientific approach.
At the same time he enters the cities artistic world coming into contact, above all, with the painters Silvio Cassinelli and Luisa Sturla together with whom he begins to draw and paint. He begins to understand the processes and needs of that particular cultural moment.
1961 He moves to Milan to study architecture at the Polytechnic but Is unable to fully integrate into the university system. In those years there could already be felt the problems which were to lead to the contestation of 1968.
He throws himself completely into painting, living in full the artistic ferment created around the Enzo Paganis “Dei Grattacielo” Gallery, together with the painters Reggiani, Adami, Bellandi, Baratella, Aricò, Pardi etc.
1962 He wins the “Diomira prize awarded by Bertarelli for drawing with two works recalling the Brut researches of Dubufett.
1963 Wins a bursary awarded by the French government for etching. He goes to Paris to work in S.W. Hayter’s studio in Rue Daguerre in Montparnasse where he learns the various calcographic techniques and acquiring that sensitivity towards drawing which is still important in his work.
1965 After the birth of his daughter Marisol, he moves to a studio in Passage Rauch, near to the Bastille, where he bigins to interest himself in collage and relief techniques.
In the studio in Rue Daguerre he meets Marce! Duchamp who had a print, ‘The Pipe Smokers”, made by Hayter.
The figure of Duchamp was to be a reference point for bis work in balance, as it was, between the primogenial impulse of the idea and the warm materiality of the object. In the meantime he decides to settle in France.
1968 The “May” events find him actively working in the free studios which had been formed to print posters for the student’s movement.
In autumn he returns to Italy due to the financial problems of being a foriegner without a steady job.
He goes to live in Rapallo where he became interested in the personality of Ezra Pound who had lived there for a long time.
1969 He begins to move away from traditional linguistic codes in order to find his own expression using materials not normal!y employed in art.
These materials were to be used straightforward!y, without symbolic formulations: graphite, starch, photocopies, fish or rabbit glue, clay and acid .
He frequents the "Bertesca" gallery in Genoa where he holds his first important one man show. with a catalogue introduction by Germano Beringheli and Tommaso Tnini. In Genoa he meets the artists of the Arte Povera group. With them he shares an interest in the materials used. but not their objectives.
1970 In his book "Evoluzione-involuzione (il tempo trasportato, lo spazio perduto", Evoluzion-Involution (Transferrcd time, Lost Space), he theorizes a history of biological and natural! evolution, tracing the first parameters of an anthropological art as a primary search for an identity to be found.
He begins the series of reconstructions of primitive man (hands. feet, heads from Australopithecus to Homo Sapiens) and his material culture through time, producing a series of works in painted terracotta.
The physicality of the clay becomes a primary and essential expressive means as it was for primitive societies when they made their first dwellings and their primordial utensils.
1972 He installed contacts with certain Fluxus artists: Filliou, Brecht, Chiari, Ben, Vostell.
1973 His interest in cultura! anthropology leads him to deepen bis studies in the rites and myths of primitive populations (journey to Marocco and contacts with the Wellington museum for a work on the Maonis in New Zeland).
He feels myth as a pnimogenial force, the source of incontaminated reality and to which he can relate in order to find an antidote to modem mass society. 1974 He Is invited to show at the Museum Ludwig in Aachen and he takes part in group shows with the Anthropological group “Spùrensicher ung’ (the Art of Traces) in Hamburg and Munich.
1975 He studies Ligurian material culture and founds at Monteghirfo (Genoa), a place near bis childhood haunts, a “Museum of Active Anthropology”, operating with Duchampian connotations. But where the French master gave an artistic status to an object of daily use, in the museum the object maintained its place of origins for which the home of the agricultural worker - as the container of objects - becomes, dur to the status of art, a museum.
1977 He moves to a studio in Via Frugoni, Genoa, and theorizes bis “Work in Regress”, born as a reply to Joyce’s “Work in Progress”.
Invited to Documenta 6 in Kassel, he rounds off bis strictly anthropological cycle with a work entitled “Antropologia riseppellita” (Reburied Anthropology), shown in the section curated by Gùnther Metken.
1978 He installs a large sculpture at the Vostell Museum, Maipartida di Caceres, Sparn. He takes part in the show “Metafisica del quotidiano” (everyday Metaphysics) in Bologna with bis first works of an alchemical cast. The discovery of the Hermetic tradition leads him towards the study of the “philosophy of natural magic” with a series of works called “Il giallo come materia”, “Il nero come sostanza”, “La calcinazione del bianco”, “Le meduse dei tempo (Yellow as Material, Black as Substance, The Calcification of White, "The Octopi of Time), as well as other works.
1980 In the past years he had shown in many Italian galleries and in many important public shows in Italy an abroad.
1981 Erika Billetter invites him to participate in "Mithos & Ritual” at the Zurich Kunsthalle, where he meets Joseph Beuys, the second reference point of bis work, from whom he derives a preference for objects which substitute the volume and concept of the painting.
1985 His participation at the show "Museo immaginario dell’archeologia" (Imaginary Museum of Archaeology). near to Lascuax, allows him to visit the famous caves, Greatly influenced by this primitive painting he leaves the redundancy of alchemy in order to near themes about the birth of art, the first definitions of games, of sex, of naturalness, of taboos and of transgressions.
1986 His presence at the Venice Biennale, in the section "Arte e Alchimia" curated by Arturo Schwarz, marks the end of his strictly alchemical period with a work called Diva Bottiglia (per un Museo dell’Alchimia)”, Star Bottle (for a Museum of Alchemy).
1987 In the works of this period there stand out states of the soul exorcised in forms which oscillate between totems, tribal and robot masks, all characterised eerily and dramatically.
His use of materials is simplified: burnt wood. iron, industrial waste, rust, pseudo-bronze, red death, gesso, lead, nad copper, together dessine a “tough” iconography that is violent, concedes nothing, is mechanomorthic and is a often presented monochromaticall. As by strong contrasts of black and white.
Large, really sculptural works are born.
1988 He works in the psychiatric hospital of Genoa-Quarto, also as artist-therapist in collaboration with the out-patients’ mental health centre which opened in 1989. He Is one of the founders of the "Institute for unaware materials and forms” (Art of the Persona).
This institute is mainly concerned with the development of creativity in the psychiatric environment and with the possible foundation of a museum of art and madness”.
1990 After a first trip to Malindi in Kenya (invited by Claudio Spadoni for the African Dream Village), he returns to Africa as a guest of Nino Pezzino in order to understand on the spot the primitive-ness of African Culture, which he feels is both macroscopic and archaic: this has led him to an extreme self-criticism and has given birth to a series of works, generically entitled "Africa", which are to be seen in this book.
Costa Died on 1995 in Genova

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