Ara H. Merjian’s book will be the first comprehensive study to examine Pier Paolo Pasolini’s relationship to art history and contemporary artistic practice alike. Having trained under one of the twentieth century’s most distinguished art historians, Roberto Longhi, Pasolini notably approached aesthetics—particularly the cinema, with which he is most widely associated—through the discipline of painting. He would later call his study with Longhi “ontological,” and his films’ painterly citations are as numerous as they are well documented in scholarship. Aside from some isolated instances, however, scholars have given short shrift to Pasolini’s larger place in the history of art—not simply as a student of its methods, but a lightning rod for its practice. What if a history of post-war art and politics were written through, or around, his multifaceted body of work? This book takes up that challenge. It does not presume an exhaustive history, but rather a network of case studies, both autonomous and interrelated, and will approach Pasolini’s work outside the limiting optic of auteurist cinema to which it is often relegated. At stake is not simply a particular episode of post-war art history, but a case study of the last century’s “heroic” avant-gardes and their afterlife in contemporary culture.
Ara H. Merjian is assistant professor of Italian Studies and Art History at New York University, where he teaches on the European avant-gardes, the representation of architecture in the modernist imagination, and the aesthetic legacies of Nietzschean philosophy. He is the author of Giorgio de Chirico and the Metaphysical City (Yale University Press, 2013), as well as essays on Le Corbusier and Metaphysical painting for Grey Room; Giacomo Balla’s design practice for the Oxford Art Journal; Jean Cocteau’s belle-lettrist criticism for the Getty Research Journal; and Luca Buvoli’s video practice in Word & Image. He is editing a forthcoming anthology of international verse on the painting of Giorgio de Chirico. Before joining the faculty at NYU, Merjian taught at Stanford and Harvard Universities. A regular critic for Artforum and frieze, he is currently writing on Pasolini and Warhol for a feature to be published in frieze in 2013.