Emilio Villa

Milan, 1914 ‒ Rieti, 2003

Villa is one of the most heretical figures in mid-twentieth-century Italian culture. A poet, translator, artist, magazine founder and art critic, Villa experimented in a wide variety of fields, combining dead languages (living for him) with living languages (dead for him), merging Greek, Latin, Italian, French, English, Spanish, jargon and dialectics. An Italian forerunner of Action Painting and an advocate of artists such as Alberto Burri, Corrado Cagli, Gastone Novelli, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Roberto Matta, Villa played a key role in an artistic and existential adventure that was in constant conflict with the institutional world and adverse to all forms of historicization. A spokesperson for the avant-garde, he published his texts in extremely limited editions or for small publishing houses, with the exception of his collection of essays Attributi dell’arte odierna 1947/1967, published by Feltrinelli. What is more, he often dispersed, hid or deleted many of his writings.

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