The exhibition Vitalita del negativo nell'arte italiana 1960-1970, curated by Achille Bonito Oliva in 1970, was a key retrospective of the Italian art scene, involving the most representative artists of the Sixties. Ugo Mulas portrayed the artists and their artworks, but this was not just a simple reportage. This book bears witness to the development in those years of a common horizon between artists and photographers thanks to the notion of documentation and its potential to inform and represent. In the images the space and time of the exhibition are transformed and the photographic recording breaks the event down into fragments of a memory. This is what determines the relationship between art and photography and structures the book; Vitalita is the point of arrival on a path that spans the whole of Mulas' career as a photographer and critic, the crux of a dialectic between event and representation and that culminates in his last great work, the Verifiche. Ugo Mulas (Pozzolengo, 1928 - Milan, 1973) is one of the most important photographers of the post war period. His career developed in contact with the artistic and cultural scene in Milan in the early 1950s.
Ugo Mulas photographed the Venice Biennales from 1954 to 1972, and after discovering Pop Art at the 1964 Biennale, he decided to go to the States (1964-1967), where he created his most important reportage, the book New York: The New Art Scene (1967). This experience influenced his new work of the late 1960s and saw him moving away from the traditional reportage. At the end of the 1960s, he participated in the aesthetic and conceptual renewal of the neo avant-garde movements, while at the beginning of the Seventies the decline of the reportage format, superseded by television, led Mulas to profoundly rethink the historic function of photography. His Verifiche (1968-1972), a pivotal work in contemporary photography, also came into being in this period: a series of thirteen works that encapsulate Mulas' experience and his ongoing dialogue with the art world. Mulas died on 2 March 1973.
Achille Bonito Oliva is a leading figure of the Italian art criticism. Author of various books on avant-garde and neo avant-garde movements, he is the father of the Transavanguardia and curated some of the most important exhibitions held in Italy. Giuliano Sergio, art and photography historian, was the specialist editor of the catalogue on Ugo Mulas for the exhibition organised by the MAXXI in Rome, the PAC in Milan and the GAM in Turin in 2007. He currently teaches History of Art at the IUAV University in Venice and the Accademia di Belle Arti in Naples.