Gruppo T

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In 1959 Giovanni Anceschi, Davide Boriani, Gianni Colombo, and Gabriele Devecchi meet each other at the Academy of arts of Brera, where they take part to the experiences of the Milan avant-garde of those years. They participate with Piero Manzoni and Enrico Castellani to the organization and the activities of the galleria Azimut. Here they meet, among others, Heinz Mack, Enzo Mari, Manfredo Massironi, the group Motus (later known as GRAV), with whom they reunite for the activities of Programmed Art and New Tendencies.

On September 1959 they exhibit mixed material and monochrome artworks at galleria Pater in Milan. After becoming fully aware of the tendency towards a tabula rasa, which was typical to the visual arts of those years, they felt the need to take this trend to its extreme consequences and to overcome it through the actions of what had become, in fact and since long, a group. During a “constant seminar” made of discussions – mostly held at the tables of bar Titta in Brera –, Boriani proposes to the group the production of “variable works”, “in four dimensions”, where the time component is perceivable in the unpredictable and irreversible variation of the image. The variation is obtained through the movement that modifies the spatial structure of the artwork over time. This proposal opens a phase of collective debate, which produces a series of scenarios. Firstly, the need of a random component emerges, in order to break the cyclical mechanical movement. This implies to allow the audience to actually intervene in the work. Involving the different contributions, the group prepares a series of programmatic texts with a strong philosophical side. These positions are summed up in the declaration “Miriorama 1” of October 1959, which can be described as a theoretical platform and a technical manifesto. Gruppo T (Anceschi, Boriani, Colombo, Devecchi) is founded on these bases. The collective and solo manifestations of the group are all entitled “Miriorama” (never-ending visions, from the Greek “orao”, to see, and “myrio”, which denotes a nearly uncountable quantity), numbered consequently (1-14) in order to stress the continuity of a shared program, which guides the work of the group for many years.

Referring to unrealized utopias proposed by historical avant-garde movements, Gruppo T has opened research scenarios and new operational methods. They started by producing works, both collective and individual, based on the effects of variation in material, surface, color, etc. These works employing novel methods, techniques, and material, are a sort of “fields of happenings”, without any personal sign of the artist, and open to the intervention of the audience.

Miriorama 1, the first manifestation of the group, was organized in January 1960 at galleria Pater in Milan. On this occasion the Declaration was published. Four solo exhibitions followed, one per each artist of the group (Miriorama 2 to 5).

Miriorama 6 in 1960 is the second group exhibition and marks the presence of Grazia Varisco as a new member of the group.

On the occasion of Miriorama 7, at galleria San Matteo in Genua in 1960, the second theoretical declaration of the group was published: it is a text where the word Miriorama is repeated never-endingly. At Miriorama 8 in 1960, Gruppo T exhibits an edition of ten copies of five multiples, numbered and signed, at the shop of Bruno Danese in Milan (the multiples were re-edited by Alessi in 2010). For Miriorama 9 in 1961, Gruppo T sends fifteen ultra-light artworks to Minami gallery in Tokyo, upon the invitation of the artist Shuzo Takiguchi. Miriorama 10 in 1961 at galleria La Salita in Rome was accompanied by a text by Lucio Fontana. Miriorama 11 at Studio N in Padua in 1962 featured a presentation by Bruno Munari. The catalogue of Miriorama 12 at galleria del Cavallino in Venice in 1962 was a folding combinatory poem by Nanni Balestrini.

Gruppo T presents “programmed graphics with cybernetic criteria” in the Almanacco Letterario Bompiani 1962, devoted to the impact of electronic calculators, and edited by Umberto Eco and Bruno Munari. In 1962 the group participates to the exhibition “Arte programmata, arte cinetica, opere moltiplicate, opera aperta”, promoted by Olivetti upon an idea of Bruno Munari, with a text by Umberto Eco, at the Olivetti showroom in galleria Vittorio Emanuele in Milan. The exhibition is presented in Italy, Germany, United Kingdom, and in a second edition in the United States.

In December 1962 Gruppo T collaborates with Vittoriano Viganò, Bruno Munari, and Livio Castiglioni, to the production of the light tower in piazza Duomo in Milan, upon the invitation of the artistic committee for light parade.

Also in 1962 Anceschi enrolls the Hochschule für Gestaltung in Ulm, where he establishes fruitful relations with such theorists of informational esthetics as Max Bense and Abraham A. Moles. In 1963 Miriorama 13 takes place at galleria del Naviglio in Milan.

In the same year Gruppo T enters the organization of the movement New Tendencies, which gathers together artists and groups from European and extra-European countries under the aim of constant research.

In 1964 the group participates to the 32nd Biennial of arts in Venice. Studio F in Ulm hosts Miriorama 14.

Progressively Gruppo T has modified its setting. Individual exhibitions are held without meaning the end of collective work. A new form of collaboration, combining two or three members of the group for a specific project, is developed with the aim of producing environmental works, which became a priority in the landscape of research of Gruppo T.

1968 is marked by a crisis in the activity of the group and by diverging choices of members. They sign for the last time a collective work, the “Percorso dinamico a ostacoli programmatic” (Dynamic path with programmed obstacles) in Grenoble. Even if Colombo and Varisco have then distanced themselves from the group, Gruppo T has never been dissolved officially.

Since 2000, a cultural operation at an international level is acknowledging the great anticipatory value of Programmed art, in particular of Gruppo T.