The Martano Archive is composed by several collections with approx. 30.000 publications from all around the world. The period involved covers the last seventy years, from post war till nowadays and includes different kind of genres , i.e.
- Artists’ books
- Illustrated books
- The “Pinot Gallizio archive” (the Library of Pinot Gallizio’s estate and Situationists period)
- The Galleria Martano archive (exhibition catalogues, essays, one-man artists monographs)
- Artist’s videos and films
- Secondary literature and documentation material
The director of the Martano Archive is Liliana Dematteis, who founded the gallery in 1965. Under her direction more than one hundred exhibitions were held and particularly conceived in two main directions: the first one with an historical idea and with particular emphasis on the Italian and international avantgardes, (from the futurist period with Balla, Russolo, Severini, Depero and others), through the European abstraction of the thirties (with Magnelli, Delaunay, Melotti, Veronesi etc.), until the concrete and informal experiences of the fifties and sixties (Munari, Max Bill, Gallizio, Fontana, Rothko, Manzoni, Klein). The second direction, was dedicated to the young artists’ researches and production.
The interest in artists’ books was born at the beginning of the seventies when the Martano Gallery also began a small but intense activity as a publishing house and among other collections like essays on art historical mouvements or exhibition’s catalogues, a number of artists’ books were produced. They were often conceived as something to do “instead” of the “catalogue” that usually is produced for an exhibition. We always think that is the close collaboration between the artist and the publisher or gallerist that make this work possible.
Among the first Martano artists’ books we want remember: Giorgio Griffa, “Non c’è rosa senza spine” (1973), Vincenzo Agnetti, 1972, Giuseppe Chiari, “Il metodo per suonare” (1976) Allan Kaprow, “Two measures” (1975), Luca Patella “Prolegomeni all’atlante speciale” (1978).
From that time we began collecting artists’ books because we strongly consider the production of them a basic element which pervades all the art tendencies of the second half of the last century. During more than fourty years, we continue researching and collecting books from anywhere, beginning from the very rare Yves Klein “Peintures” 1954, the Bruno Munari “Un unreadable quadrat print”, 1953, the Giulio Paolini “Ciò che non ha limiti…”, 1969, the Alighiero Boetti“Classifying the thousand longuest rivers in the world”, 1977, with a special interest on conceptual and visual poetry. artists and others very important but also very cheer to us.
In 1996 we organized for the first time a wide exhibition of this collection at the gallery, with a home-made catalogue/list and a nice invitation card designed for us by Maurizio Nannucci. And it was, this exhibition, the moment in which we reach the consciousness of the need of giving a better visibility to those books: the ones in our collection and all those who were made by artists in Italy until that moment. So, two years later, we signed the book “Libri d’artista in Italia 1960-1998”, where for the first time a three thousands titles were listed and in a good number illustrated, and were a first italian/international bibliography was compiled . A nice section designed by some gallery-artists like Bruno Munari, Emilio Isgrò, Maurizio Nannucci, Pierluigi Fresia, Giulio Paolini and others with their ideas on artists’s book completed the volume.
Ten year after, we decided to lend our collection to the only Italian institution where an important library and a wide and selected section of documents, photographs and complete archives from many artists’s studios were put at the services of public, the Museum Mart in Rovereto. So, nowadays our artists’ books collections is visible part at the Mart Museum and part in our Archive Martano’space in Torino when it’s continuing growing with always new titles in order to complete and update it.