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Ugo Carrega

Ugo Carrega

Ugo Carrega was born in Genoa on August 17, 1935. A prodigy since his childhood years, he was not only drawn to writing poetry, but he even proved capable of disseminating the fruits of this early passion in the publication of a first collection of poems at the age of 17, in 1952, and a second in 1955.  Yet, despite such signs of a remarkable talent, Carrega was at the same time meant to abandon all plans to pursue literary studies at the university level, after a series of attempts to obtain a high school degree had remained unsuccessful. Upon the request of his family, he then agreed to become a shipping agent. In 1955, Carrega moved to England to undergo professional training at a local shipping agency, returning to his native Genoa the following year.


It was while working as a shipping agent in Genoa that Carrega gave in to his initial calling, starting to frequent literary and artist circles of the newly forming Italian postwar avant-garde. At the outset, Carrega’s poetry had rather been influenced by symbolist authors, such as Gabriele D’Annunzio; but inspired by the subsequent discovery of less orthodox English-speaking poets like James Joyce, Ezra Pound and E.E. Cummings, Carrega would then venture into experimenting, more radically, with the semantic dimension of poetic language. In 1958, he finally met Martino Oberto (1925-2011), the poet, painter and philosopher who was going to have a significant influence on Carrega’s initiation and definite turning to verbo-visual poetry and art. Another influence for Carrega at this point was the work of Emilio Villa (1914-2003), a poet, visual artist and art critic seen as one of the precursors of the Italian neoavantguardia of the 1950s and 1960s.


The same year, in 1958, Carrega also published his first collection of experimental poetry under the title Èini. In 1963, the collaboration with Oberto culminated in Carrega’s appointment as editor of the avant-garde magazine Ana Eccetera, which Oberto and his wife Anna Bontempi had founded and directed since 1958. The main mission of Ana Eccetera was to suspend the rigid distinction between the theory of poetry and poetic praxis. It was two years later, in 1965, that Ana Eccetera published Carrega’s seminal article entitled “Analisi grafica del linguaggio. Rapporto tra il poeta e il suo lavoro” (“The Graphic Analysis of Language: (on) the Relationship between the Poet and his Work”). In this theoretical text, Carrega outlined his poetic agenda, articulating the need for a new language of poetry, in which the alphabet would be only one graphic variable amongst others.


In 1965, Carrega founded the magazine TOOL in collaboration with Rodolfo Vitone and Lino Matti. Similar to Ana Eccetera, the magazine TOOL was dedicated to exploring the visual potentialities that the transgression of traditional scripturality implied for the practice of poetry. It was in this context that Carrega would develop an original type of visual writing or script called “scrittura simbiotica” (symbiotic writing) – a notion, which was to further qualify the theoretical and aesthetic bases of this magazine: TOOL: quaderni di scrittura simbioticaThe concept of symbiotic writing was, soon afterwards, superposed by what Carrega came to designate as “Nuova Scrittura” (New Writing). Conceived already in the second half of the 1960s, New Writing was consecrated in 1974/75 only, in Carrega’s Manifesto of New Writing, co-signed by Vincenzo Accame, Martino and Anna Oberto, Corrado D’Ottavi, Rolando Mignani, Liliana Landi and Vincenzo Ferrari.

Carrega’s development as a verbo-visual poet was significantly fostered and framed by his continuous involvement in the foundation of art magazines and art centers. In April 1968, two years after moving from Genoa to Milan, Carrega replaced TOOL: quaderni di scrittura simbiotica by the Bollettino TOOL. In February 1969, he co-founded the magazine aaa, whose publication, however, was stopped in June of the same year. And in February 1972, Carrega founded the magazine Bollettino da dentro. Apart from being himself the editor of magazines on verbo-visual poetry, he collaborated with publications such as Lotta Poetica, Amodulo, Linea Sud and TèchneCarrega was the founder of the Centro Suolo (1969) and its continuation, the Centro Tool (1971-1973). In collaboration with Vincenzo Ferrari and Claudio Salocchi, he founded the Centro di Ricerca Non Finalizzata (Center for Unfinished Research) in 1973. In April 1974, he opened the gallery Mercato del Sale, which was specifically dedicated to the promotion of New Writing. In 1988, Carrega collaborated with the art collector Paolo Della Grazia in the foundation of the Archivio di Nuova Scrittura (Archive of New Writing, or ANS). Since 1998, the ANS holdings are deposited in the MART (Museo d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea) in Rovereto (Province of Trentino) and in the Museion in Bolzano/Bozen (Province of Alto Adige).


In the course of his career, Ugo Carrega had more than 50 individual exhibitions in Italy, Austria and Germany. His works were also presented in numerous group exhibitions all over Europe, the Americas and Asia. Carrega is the author of over 30 treatises on Nuova Scrittura (New Writing) and poesia verbo-visiva (verbo-visual poetry). He died on October 7, 2014. 

Ugo Carrega was an Italian artist and experimental poet, who was one of the leading figures of visual poetry. Carrega founded cultural centers Centro Suolo (1969), Centro Tool (1971), and Mercato del Sale (1974), as well as art magazines Tool (1965), Bollettino Tool (1968), and aaa (1969), among others.

Ugo Carrega Artwork Collection

The Ugo Carrega Artwork collection consists of artwork and book publications by Ugo Carrega, exhibition catalogs, and other publications relating to Carrega. Spanning the period between the early 1960s and ca. 2014, the archive provides ample insight into the work and thought of one of the leading practitioners of Poesia Visiva (Visual Poetry) - a hybrid practice at the intersection of language poetry and the visual arts that came to flourish in Italy with the advent of the second avant-garde movements in the 1960s.

Collection Highlights

Poesia Visiva: A Tentative Definition


According to Eugenio Miccini and Michele Perfetti, "visual poetry poetry tries not only new communication codes but also new distribution channels [...] Visual poetry, therefore, is guerilla warfare: and, as such, it uses not only the word or the image but also the light, the gesture, in other words all the 'visible' devices of communication [...] it tends to transform the its own instruments [...] into those of mass communications through to taking control [...] in order to transform society itself 'with' these [...] Visual poetry acts at the heart of the system [...] But, there is a strength in it that comes from its utopian nature, from its ideological forecast of a new anthropological dimension, from the attempt, therefore, to bring together and join - acting on human awareness - aesthetics and life."

Finding Aid:

To view a detailed listing of contents for the Ugo Carrera Artwork Collection and to request materials for consultation in the Beinecke Reading Room, visit the Online Finding Aid

New Writing (Nuova Scrittura)

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