1968 LOTUS n° 5. Ed. Alfieri VENEZIA
1968 METRO n° 14, Ed. Alfieri VENEZIA
1970 Design Italia 70 ed. Achille Mauri
1972 G. I. Southem Europe, Ed. A.D.A. Edita Tokio
1973 G. I. Apartament inerions n° 5, Ed. A.D.A. Edita Tokio
1974 G. I. Houses in Southem Europe 2 n° 8, Ed .A.DA. Edita Tokio
1977 Houses Architects live in di Barbara Plumb
1979 I° Biennale MONZA Ed. ASS. Biennale
1981 Nove Ville d'Autore di Vercelloni/Natalini, Ed. Condè Nast MILANO
1982 OTTAGONO n° 67/ Ed. CO.P.I.N.A. srl. MILANO
1982 La Casa Calda di A. Branzi, Ed. Idea Boocks MILANO
1984 La Casa Calda Ed. Idea Boocks MILANO
1985 Repertorio del Design di Mazza & Gramigna Ed. Mondadori VERONA
1985 Italian Style di Tondino/Sabino Ed. Clarkson/Porter New York N.Y.
1985 Styles of Living di Vercelloni Ed. Condè Nast/Thames & Hudson Ltd.
1987 The Italian Design/Descendants of Leonardo da Vinci, ed. Graphic-Sha Publishing CO Ltd Tokio
1988 Il Giuoco del Design di R. De Fusco, ed .Eletta Napoli
1988 Women in Design di Liz Mc Quiston, Ed. Rizzoli New York N.Y.
1988 ABITARE Italia di g, Raimondi Fabbri Editori
1990 Mondo Material Steelkase Inc. Ed. R. A. Peltason New York
1990 Creativitalia The Joy of Italian Design Ed. Eletta
1991 The Italian Forniture di F. Shimizu Ed. Graphic -Sha Publishing CO Ltd Tokio
1992 Shoten Kenghiku n° 6 vol. 37 Tokio
1995 Arte e Design /La sindrome di Leonardo di Biffi Gentili Ed. Allemandi
1995 Dizionario del Design Italiano Ed. Cantini
1996 Contemporary Italian Forniture di C. Morozzi, Ed. L'Archivolto MILANO
1997 Arte Contemporanea in Italia - 46/97 I. G. De Agostini
1998 Design Venture in italia Vol. 242 ed. Dep. Design Yun-Yeo Shin Seul
1998 Arte Contemporanea Italiana Ed. De Agostini Novara
1999 Case D'Autore 90/99 Ed. F. Motta
2000 II Design nell'Arredamento Domestico di Mazza & GramignA Ed. Allemandi
2000 Aperto Vetro di M. Romanelli Ed. Eletta
2001 The Italian Way Ed. Modo
2001 Italy Contemporary Domestic Landscape 45/2000 ed. Skirà
2001 Italy Contemporary Domestic Landscape 45/2002 ed. G. Bodoni
2001 Design the Italian Way Editoriale Modo
2001 ABITARE n° 406 Ed. Abitare Segesta
2002 Luce di F. Ferrari Ed. U. Allemandi Torino
2002 Storia dell'Arte Italiana del Novecento di G. Di Genove Ed. Bora BL
2003 La luce italiana di A. Bassi Ed. Electa
2003 “50/2000 Theater of Italian Creativity” Cosmit
2003 FLARE n° 34 “Light IT4S a Neon Line3
2005 La Leggenda degli Artisti di Calice L. Editore De Ferrari
2006 NANDA VIGO “Light is Life” Ed. Johan e Levi.
2006 NANDA VIGO ed. Abitare Segesta
2006 Die Neue Tendenzen 61/63 Ed, Museum fur Konkrete Kunst Ingolddtadt
2006 ZERO Avant - Garde Inter. Ed. Hatje Cantz
2007 CAMERA CON VISTA Ed. Skirà
2008 Towards New Worlds Ed. Toselli
2008 Interni 70 Ed. Verba Volant Londra
2008 ZERO 57/66 Ed. Sperone Westwater New York
2010 Nanda Vigo Interni n° III Ed. Mondadori
2011 Jef Verheyen “end friends” Asa Publishers/Langen Foundation –Neuss (D)
1965 DOMUS n° 432
1966 DOMUS n° 442
1967 DOMUS n° 451
1969 DOMUS n° 470
1970 DOMUS n° 482
1972 DOMUS n° 507
1972 DOMUS n° 514
1975 DOMUS n° 552
1982 DOMUS n° 629
1984 DOMUS Quaderni
1992 DOMUS n° 517
1974 CASA VOGUE n° 31
1974 CASA VOGUE n° 39
1974 CONNEISANCE DES ARTS n° 263
1981 OTTAGONO n° 60
1982 OTTAGONO n° 67
1985 CASA VOGUE n° 168
1985 MODO n° 80
1986 MODO n° 89
1987 CASA VOGUE n° 191
1990 INTERNI - ottobre
1993 MODO n° 148
1994 ANNUAL LUCE di A. Branzi / INTERNI Ed. Electa
2001 CASA VOGUE n° 9
2001 DESIGN, THE ITALIAN WAY Ed. Modo
2001 ABITARE n° 406 maggio
2002 CASABELLA n° 703 sett.
2002 MODO n° 223 ottobre
2003 FLARE n° 34
2003 CASA VIVA n° 2
2004 INTERNI n° 12 Dic.
2004 CASA AMICA 7/8
2007 CASE DA ABITARE n° 111
2009 ARTE CONTEMPORANEA n° 17
2010 INTERNI n° 1/2
works 1963 - 2014
The exhibition returns to some of the major themes Nanda Vigo has worked on during her career, from her earliest works in the 1960s (Chronotops) to her most recent (Deep Space), the first variations of which she showed in 2013. The title ‘LIGHT TREK’suggests the trajectory of light that has always guided her and which is represented in the exhibition by four emblematic works: 1) The Chronotops of the ’60s, which are today exhibited in the Guggenheim Museum in New York; 2) the Light Trees that provided her with one of her major research directions during the ’80s, and which served as a period of transition in which technology and poetry were brought together to best express vital forces and the aspiration to verticality typical of trees; 3) the works that go under the name Light Progressions, from a project undertaken at the start of the 1990s and which still results in variations today: these Light Progressions link ‘chronotopic’ principles to her research into the symbolism of signs in a strongly visual work that makes use of light; 4) and, lastly, the works in the cycle Deep Space that have appeared only recently. Through their directional triangulation and nuanced radiation, they create an impression of immateriality that seems to project them into interstellar space.
The exhibition illustrates Nanda Vigo’s creative power, which, in undergoing continuous renewal remote from stereotypes since the 1960s, has produced a considerable body of work that has influenced a generation of artists and designers with its originality and exemplary nature. Her unusual practice brings together the immaterial elements of light and its reflections, transparency and subjective illusion. Always in the artistic vanguard, Nanda Vigo has worked with many of the most noteworthy people in the art world, while remaining faithful to her goals. She strives to go beyond the need for technological contingencies, which she employs at the highest levels, achieving a high degree of immateriality in order to do away with all concept of matter and to achieve a philosophical and spiritual ideal of nature. In consequence, her work addresses our centres of sensorial perception as vectors of mental and psychological information. She has always preferred experimentation and the exploration of new paths: performances, installations and happenings are part of her artistic language, in parallel to her practice of architecture, which in turn led her towards design. Her work reveals the essence of form and light, from which she conjures up unique, timeless works that defy aesthetic definition: works that, due to their radiance, are able to interact with the invisible vibrations of the world.
Genesis of her work Nanda Vigo’s artistic adventure began in Milan in 1959. After studying architecture at the École Polytechnique in Lausanne, she enrolled in Taliesin West, the school founded in Arizona (USA) by Frank Lloyd Wright. Disappointed by the teaching methods of the famous architect, she left Taliesin and instead took up apprenticeships in various architectural firms in San Francisco. She returned to Milan at the end of 1959 to open her own studio. In the early 1960s, the art scene in the capital of Lombardy was enlivened by a small group of up-and-coming artists inspired by the charismatic figure of Lucio Fontana. Nanda Vigo was involved in this renewal, producing her first remarkable installation in 1959: the Zero House or Casa Pelligrini, which provided a platform for her nascent theories on the general conception of a space modelled by light and the interplay of its reflections on walls made from sheets of frosted glass. She described the space thus: “The walls were made of plates of frosted glass that hid neon lighting in three colours: white, green and blue. A handheld control enabled the colour to be altered at will”. She met Fontana and Giò Ponti, and would work with the latter on the Casa sotto la foglia (1964/1968). This was the only time that Ponti produced a work in partnership with someone else, and left Vigo complete freedom with regard to the creation of the interiors. About his ideas, Nanda liked to say: “Ponti, whose work for me is 390°, taught me about the complex simplicity of the design. Whether you are designing something enormous, like a skyscraper, church, or building, or as tiny as a plate or glass, it must always be conducted with the same dedication and love, and with the courage to alter it completely if the conditions are unsuitable. Furthermore, he confirmed for me that a global alteration was a safe option”. Affirmation of her artistic convictions allowed Nanda to integrate it with her architectural and design research, which she developed as a test-bed, associating constructive rigour with creative impact and demonstrating a love of materials, such as glass, metal and mirrors, to which she would remain faithful throughout her career. For Nanda, Fontana represented creative daring, “elegance, creative impulsiveness, the courage to penetrate a spatial hole as far back as the 1930s”. The works of this artist were of major importance to the young generation starting out in Milan at the end of the 1960s. To Nanda Vigo they were a confirmation of a fundamental intuition that she had first felt in her earliest youth, when looking at the reflective play of light that lit up the façade of Terragni’s “Casa del Fascio” in Como. They also allowed her to back up her own research in the context of a school of thought that unified her architectural and artistic experiences, rejecting the historicist paradigm of the primacy of one genre over another. In any case, it was clear to her that light in its natural and artificial form, represented the raw material with which to develop her work. On several occasions, Nanda would state her attachment to these two giants of art, to whom she would later add Manzoni1 in many tributes, declaring “Respect, courage, love, harmony. That is what my relationship with these three artists in the 1960s brought me”.2
Milan in the ’60s: a European adventure Nanda Vigo used to frequent the mythical Brera quarter, which was then the setting for all the events and discussions taking place around the most radical and provocative artists of the moment. It is here that Lucio Fontana, Piero Manzoni, Gianni Colombo, Enrico Castellani, Vincenzo Agnetti and many others used to meet, a small group determined to establish its new vision of the world. The 1960s were a period of intense artistic exchange between Milan (around Azimuth created in Milan by Castellani and Manzoni) and the Group Zero of German artists founded by Heinz Mack and Otto Piene in Düsseldorf in 1957. The period was rife with exchanges and open-mindedness: just like Mack and Piene, the Italian artists travelled, published and exhibited. The Galleria Azimut opened by Manzoni in Milan in 1959 was the setting for a packed programme of events. The ideas of this European art community were published in the reviews Zero (in Germany) and Azimuth (in Italy), that serve as a vehicle for the exchange of ideas between Germany, France, Holland, Belgium and Switzerland. From that time, Nanda Vigo took a poetic and cosmic stand closer to Zero’s theories than she is to those of Azimuth. The German group intends to inspire a shift toward revival, by exploring the possibilities of those materials as yet underused in the artistic field, and by focusing on sensorial stimuli linked to movement and light. Zero placed man in a system of universal references unlimited by time or space. Thus, by both conviction and affinity, she linked herself with the German group and adopted their basic principle of “Cosmic power”, emphasizing exploration over analysis, and taking inspiration from philosophical theories rather than aesthetic doctrines to which she had never adhered. As from 1963, Nanda Vigo strengthened her ties with Zero and helped to spread its work in Italy and elsewhere in Europe.
The founding concepts of chronotopy Nanda Vigo was always interested in the collective expression of nascent ideas, which led her to frequent the most active groups during the period of Milan’s vibrant renewal. It was the occasion for her to join forces with the most important and charismatic leaders of the moment, particularly the Germans Mack, Piene and Ueker. However, Fontana was the undisputed inspiration behind this renaissance and when, in 1961, Nanda wished to define certain basic axioms that provided her research with its direction, she asked Fontana to draft an addendum to his Manifiesto Blanco and Manifesti dello Spazialismo. The terms of these values were essential for her to define her own research; they revolved around four points:
1. To transcend memory so as to endow the concept with the power to express itself; 2. To assert a space that has a spiritual dimension in order to define the scope of our need; 3. To create order, harmony, balance, purity: essentials; 4. To understand the definition of “finite” within infinity, to find the truth of being in the reality of the spirit.
These foundational tenets allowed Nanda Vigo to validate her intuitions and encouraged her on her entirely independent way. Although she could count on the teachings of her masters, she had always been ferociously self-reliant and refused to be attached to anything on which a label could be hung. Her membership of Zero was more philosophical and spiritual than pro forma, and the singularity of her creations and the diversity of her interests have made her career path a deeply personal one, built on the basis on an exacting professional experience. The particular character of her research arose from the maturation of her own concepts, defined out of an acute knowledge of the international trends of the time, and enriched by the occasionally fiery confrontations with artists of her generation. But above all else, her own intuition and awareness of the invisible energies and fluxes that circulate within the universe enabled her to give substance to a cosmic mythology anchored in the reality of our time and, most importantly projected towards the eternity of the future.
Her goal was to go beyond technological data in order to extract from them the subtlest and most immaterial of concepts, to dissolve the very idea of matter associated with them, and thus to return to a psychic and psychological idea of nature. In January 1964 she drew up the founding principles of the reasoning that underlay her creativity, on which she had based her first works from 1959. She called these works Chronotopes in an attempt to express her philosophical research into the concepts of time and space.
Her manifesto stated these convictions: “Information” Philosophical concept – chronotopy or five-dimensional postulate leading to the no-dimension Geometric concept – the rectangle and square frame all other geometric forms. I therefore believe that in creating an aesthetic expression of a command code to trigger information through a precise choice, these forms are the most appropriate to use in harmony with the chronotopic postulate Aesthetic directed at the information – through the “gates” opened by the command code of the directed aesthetic, the viewer receives a no-dimensional-chronotopic revelation. “I attempted”, she said, “the dematerialisation of the object through the creation of false perspectives, in such a way that the space surrounding the viewer identifies with the object itself”.3
The Chronotops “Chronotopic is outside the centre, towards the no-dimension, moving towards new metaphysics which, merging with the reality of the material, acquires an extreme precision in her works”4 wrote Schoonhoven. For Nanda, the abolition of all temporal and spatial dimensions is equivalent to the wish to accede to more elevated degrees of the spirit. Etymologically, Chronotop means time-space and refers to indirect light filtered through materials creating impressions of mutation, uncertain sensations in the perception of space. Nanda Vigo considers space as an area for experimental research in which the variability of lighting effects induces an undefined perception of forms. It is a philosophical concept intended to break loose from the physical limits of space in order to achieve psychological well-being. She accomplishes this ideal state through the optimisation of the variability of the neon lighting integrated within a glass and aluminium structure. This combination creates a visual disturbance that is amplified by the reflective surfaces. It’s a comprehensive design that Nanda has named Chronotop. . This notion of indefinite and dematerialised perception of space is duly integrated into her earliest creations the interpretation of filtered and reflected sources of natural and artificial light. The effect is given by the use of frosted or fluted glass that creates the impression of coloured or neutral lights. The object resides within an aluminium structure that serves as an agent to conduct this timeless, spatial energy. Throughout the 1960s the concept gave rise to numerous square and rectangular interpretations that corresponded with the chronotopic theory. Nanda Vigo conceived them as generators of immaterial and timeless luminescence and energy. She produced small and medium-sized chronotopes (measuring from 40x40 to 10x200 cm); other works were conceived as “sculptures” that stood on the ground or on plinths; and others as “environments”, installations or experimental spaces. Viewers were invited to enter them and benefit from their energy, leaving aside their normal references and allowing themselves to be borne up by the sensations activated by the illusion of the multiple reflections of their own image, in an atmosphere created by glowing blue, violet and red neon tubes. The space is modified by the illusion of the variation of the surfaces that evade the rational laws of perspective, at times eluding the touch. During the 1960s and ’70s, Nanda produced her Ambienti cronotopici in a number of galleries and museums, adapting her concept of immeasurable space-time to contexts at which viewers always marvelled. One of the most spectacular was the Ambiente Spaziale: Utopie realized with Lucio Fontana for the Milan Triennale of 1964. Another extraordinary conception was the Labirinto cronotopico created in 1965 for the Ideal Standard exhibition in Milan, directed by Giò Ponti. At the Galleria Apollinaire in Milan in 1967, she mounted a reflecting ambiente cronotopico that multiplied the number of white opaque walls illuminated by red, green and blue neon tubes. Later came the Ambiente cronotopico at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Turin, in 1968, and the Ambiente strutturato a percorso at the Galleria Toselli in Milan. She pursued this chronotopic research until the early 1970s.
Light Trees, Light Progressions, Deep Space Her independence was established on the basis of a research that made light the driving force behind her artistic inspiration conceived as a conduit for invisible forces and as a testament to the pursuit of the catalyst of man’s aspiration to universal harmony. Her thinking deeply rooted in its tenet of infinity in time and space has conceived the work as an active source of radiance whose luminous emanations act as conductive agent. Her creations illustrate her conviction that genuine art is a projection that carries within itself the form of society to come. All the later developments of her work remain true to that visionary function of art. Her experience and productions have been prolific; from 1970 following the cronotopic period, there are the Light Projects, which referred to art’s tautological project, then came the Simulatori di Spazio in a quasi-esoteric period of her production in which she focused on the dematerialization of object. Starting in 1978, the triangle and square make up the fundamental vocabulary of an interactive language constructed around the dialogue between light and a mirror. In 1980 Nanda Vigo developed her Light Trees. These objects were based on the use of technology combined harmoniously with symbolic forms and signs that together offer a mental suggestion to the viewer. Her description of them was as follows: “The poetics of these Light Trees is an account of musical and sound deviations brought together in formal schemas that refer to the first evolution of cosmogonic signs, and thus to the symbolism of the tree, which was considered by ancient writings to be a producer of life: with its roots in the ground and its trunk pointing towards the sun, it was a logical figuration, particularly if the trunk generated the light whose propagation into space gives us the only mathematical formulation: non-relative.”5The Light Trees define the trajectory of light that takes our gaze to the stars. Nando Vigo wrote:
“Light Trek Light is the path of the stars Light is the cosmogonic alphabet to read the galaxies Lights are the infinite spaces of the chakras of the mind and heart Lights are the refractions of mirrors that send back labyrinth-like systems of light in which we lose and refind ourselves Light is the earth, the mother, in the perfect Light square, of the centre of Cheops Light is the swastika of the rays of Ra, constructor of life and death in the chronotopic wheel of a becoming light.”6
During the 1990s, Nanda Vigo began work on reinterpreting signs linked to her personal memory and collective memory, which were traced using identical rituals: through repetition and the precision of their execution, they lead the spirit towards the paths of plenitude and inner peace, a state of wellbeing that the artist has always attempted to achieve with her body of works, transmitting the idea that everything can be a generator of energy. This concept encompasses the works she began to develop in the ’90s called Alfabeto Cosmogonico, whose precision of execution in the reinterpretation of ancient signs is meant to lead the spirit on the path to inner peace. The same period saw the start of her Light Progressions, works that unite signs generated through her research into cosmogony to light in an attractive degradation of colours. In her own definition, the Light Progressions are “variations of light diffused by sheets of frosted glass emerging out of a mirrored black glass volume that emphasizes their vibrations”.7 The specific case of the Trilogy in the exhibition – Tribute to Fontana, Tribute to Ponti, Tribute to Manzoni – comes from the collection of Light Progressions of 1993, which maintain the same physical nature. The three works are a reminder of Nanda Vigo’s closeness with these artists and their importance to her artistic research. Each is cited through a reference to a particular geometric form: a circle for Fontana, a triangle for Ponti and a rectangle (almost a line) for Manzoni. The Totems appeared around 2005, which Nanda calls: “ The first one, the Never-ending light, is a light totem that can be developed infinitely in either height or length – vertically or horizontally – and which makes reference to the light trees: from the earth, development vertically towards the ether like a bearer of life. The second, called Goral, is an obelisk fitted with light signals using neon tubes that evoke the elementary signs of the cosmogonic alphabet. It is a simple translation of the more complex Goral that represents the light of creation in Buddhist philosophy”.8 Her most recent works are from a cycle called Deep Space. These, more than her other works, denote her cosmic inspiration, with the acute, directional triangles of the structures enhanced by a halo of diffused light, often blue, suggesting accessional movement. They resemble spaceships leaving for the stars. The symbolic and almost magical value of the triangle harks back to ancient beliefs still alive associated with the history of man. Nanda offers us an internal and interstellar journey, a sort of epic that takes man into an elevated dimension of the spirit, space and time. These works are meant to be objects of awareness and understanding, and symbolise ascension and radiant attraction that propels our destiny towards “a future of light”.
1 Nanda described her link with Manzoni as “an intense partnership based on intellectual affinities regarding the vitality of art. It was spontaneously in his writings of 1957 and ’58. But it was impossible to work with him. I could only be a conscious spectator”. 2 She continued: “…I felt obliged to thank them by speaking of their work, for which I was helped in the production and direction by Marco Poma, who was obviously agreed with me on the human and artistic qualities of these three giants”. This declaration was made at the release in Milan 2009 of Trilogia d’amore, three films dedicated to these masters of Italian art, Giò Ponti, Lucio Fontana and Piero Manzoni. The films were made with the artistic coordination of Nanda Vigo under the direction of Marco Poma. 3 Interview, Dominique Stella, 2006. 4 I.J Schoonhoven, from the catalogue of the exhibition at the Delta Kunstring gallery in Rotterdam, 1965. 5 From a text by Nanda Vigo of 13 September 1983, published in Nanda Vigo, Light is Live, Johan & Levi editore, Milan, 2006, p.68. 6 Idem. 7 Quotation, original text, 02/09/2014. 8 Quotation, original text, 02/09/2014.