Gianni Bertini


Gianni Bertini (1922-2010) was an Italian artist who produced abstract paintings, but was also involved with the Arte Nucleare circle, which sought to promote new forms of art in other media.  Bertini experimented forms of material transfer, especially photographic screenprinting, becoming one of the leading painters of the Art Mec movement, and he also engaged with visual and sound poets such as Jean-Clarence Lambert and Henri Chopin. In the early 1970s he collaborated with Sarenco on the radical avant-garde journal Lotta Poetica.

Gianni Bertini Papers

Gianni Bertini Papers, scrapbooks, correspondence, photographs, and artwork by, to, or relating to Gianni Bertini are housed in 94 boxes and 17 broadsides. Materials are in Italian, French, English, and German.


Select Bertini titles

Cahier nomade, 1959-98.

T 55-2 : premier épisode : la fin de la ressemblance, 1959 by, Jean-Clarence Lambert and Gianni Bertini.

Aller, 1960, by Pierre André Benoit and Gianni Bertini. Portfolio of lithograph engravings.

Advenu, 1961, by Pierre André Benoit and Gianni Bertini. No. 2 of  4 copies.

Eclatement, 1961, by Pierre André Benoit, and Gianni Bertini.

Laissez deborder le hasard, 1962, by Francis Picabia and Gianni Bertini.

Pour parler (et pour cause), 1962, inscribed to Henri Chopin.

Stèle pour Adam de la Halle, 1962, by Jean-Jacques Lévêque and Gianni Bertini.

Possédé1964, by Pierre André Benoit and Gianni Bertini. No. 2 of 5 copies.

Les folies françaises, 1964-66, by Jean-Clarence Lambert and Gianni Bertini.

Fort Boyard, 1967, volume for an imaginary arts festival, by Bertini, Serge Béguier, Antonio Berni, Julien Blaine, Henri Chopin, Nikos, and Gil J Wolman.

Identikit di Gianni Bertini, 1969.

Le dernier roman du monde, 1970, by Henri Chopin, four original serigraphs by Bertini.

Recitativo all'italiana, 1970, by François Dufrêne, graphic design by Bertini.

Gianni Bertini, 1971, introduction by Guido Ballo.

Mec, 1971, no. 2.

Bertini: la mecque du mec, 1972.

Comunicazioni interdisciplinari, 1972.

Immagini della memoria, 1975.

La vie d'un Mec, 1984.

Canal Street, 1986, by Bernard Heidsieck and Gianni Bertini.

Bertini: testimonianze, 1987.

Le diurnal: une année et un jour, 1990.

Bertini: giornale di bordo del caporale di giornata, 1991, exhibition catalog.

Bertini: pour ne pas oublier, 1991, exhibition catalog.

Related material in other archives

Henri Chopin Papers, boxes 13 and 14, correspondence among Bertini, Chopin, and Chopin's daughter, Brigitte, spanning 1965-2009.

Lotta Poetica, series 1: nos. 1-12 (1971-72.

Sarenco Papers


Related collections

Henri Chopin and OU

Sarenco and Lotta Poetica

Situationist International

Gil J Wolman

Gianni Bertini

Gianni Bertini was born in Pisa in 1922. Turning to art in the aftermath of the Second World War, he was among the first to experiment with the appropriation of images from popular culture, a trend that was soon to become a passion among avant-garde painters and cultural critics on both sides of the Atlantic. The use of stencils, clichés, and signage was already evident in Bertini's first series of paintings, I Gridi ("The Cries," 1947-1949). He was close to the Arte Nucleare movement led by Sergio Dangelo and Enrico Baj (who soon played an important role in the pre-history of the Situationist International). In 1951 he exhibited some of the first examples of "art informel" in Italy, showing a selection of paintings in which he used the technique of staining to produce large abstract forms. The same year Bertini moved to Paris, where he was discovered by Pierre Restany, the art critic and founder of Nouveau Réalisme. While not formally part of the group, Bertini joined some of its members (including Yves Klein) in signing the influential 1957 manifesto, Contre le style ("The End of Style"), and in 1961 Restany devoted one of his first books to Bertini's work. But it was the scandal surrounding the 1962 exhibtion Pays réel ("Real Country") that finally made a name for the artist . Banned in Italy due to irreverent appropriation of flags, passports, and other emblems of the official culture, the show was a hit in Paris, where Restany gleefully endorsed such gestures of artistic subversion, dubbing them "Bertinisations."


Collaboration with poets became a crucial dimension of Bertini's oeuvre from the mid-1960s onwards. Working closely with the poet Jean-Clarence Lambert between 1964 and 1966, the artist produced Les Folies françaises d’après “ELLE," a spectacular "book object" that paired Bertini's experimental use of stencils, screen prints, and photo-mechanical reproduction with Lambert's laconic poetry in a stinging critique of the mass media and representations of women in postwar consumer culture. Bertini also collaborated with French multimedia poet Henri Chopin, with whom he formed a tempestuous lifelong friendship, on many projects. After returning to Italy, he joined the visual poet and performance artist Sarenco in founding the magazine Lotta Poetica ("Poetic Struggle") to promote the deployment of poetry as "political art" in the early 1970s. At the same time he also launched another journal, Mec, devoted to experimetns with "mechanical art," or "art-mec," a movement inspired by Restany for which Les Folies françaises had become something of an icon.


Associazione Gianni Bertini

Archivio Gianni Bertini


Arte Nucleare description and images on Tate website.


Fundació Stämpfli


Giulia Niccolai, Adriano Spatola & the creation of the Poesia Visiva Collection, exhibition brochure, University Art Gallery, Sydney, Australia, 2009 (pdf).