Pablo Echaurren

Duchamp in Red?  This original Echaurren notebook from 1977 playfully adapts motifs from Marcel Duchamp’s Rrose Sélavy to poke fun at Marxist orthodoxy and take jabs  at leftist militants inthe Movimento del '77.

Pablo Echaurren (b. 1951) is an Italian artist, illustator, writer, collector, and trenchant critic of the commercial art market. Influences of Dada, Futurism, the Situationists, Pop Culture, and Punk blend, jostle,and clash in his prolific oeuvre, expressions of a unique critical sensibility rooted in the countercultural currents of Italy's Movimento del '77.

Pablo Echaurren Papers

The Pablo Echaurren Papers include manuscripts, notebooks, original drawings and works on paper, printed material, correspondence, magazines, photographs, and books by, to, or relating to Pablo Echaurren, spanning the years 1975–2010, with the bulk concentrated on Echaurren's involvement with the Movimento del '77. At the heart of the collection are over 200 original drawings for the radical leftist paper Lotta Continua, maquettes and production materials for several 'zines Echaurren published, including the original offset plates for Oask?!, and a unique archive of everyday life in an occupied house in Rome, the so-called Casa del Desiderio, and extensive documentation of the artist's involvement with the Indiani Metropolitani.

View a detailed overview of the archival material in the Pablo Echaurren Papers. The collection is in Italian. The Pablo Echaurren Papers were recently acquired by the Beinecke, thus the Finding Aid is still in progress, and the materials are not yet available for viewing at the Beinecke, or searchable via Orbis; please check back or contact kevin.repp@yale.edu with pressing queries.

 

Pablo Echaurren and related titles

OASK?!, 1977, counterculture magazine

Abat/jour, 1977, counterculture magazine

Wam, 1977, counterculture magazine

Materiali, 1977, counterculture magazine

Altrove, 1977, counterculture magazine

Il Complotto di Zurigo, 1977, counterculture magazine

"Il mio '77," 2013, a firsthand account of Echaurren's experiences in 1977, with references to material in the Echaurren Papers, written for Beinecke Library, in Italian.

Il movimento del settantasette: linguaggi e scritture dell'ala creativa, 1997, by Claudia Salaris.

Controcultura in Italia: 1967-1977: Viaggio nell'underground, 1999, by Pablo Echaurren and Claudia Salaris.

Collezione Echaurren Salaris, 2012, by Claudia Salaris.

La casa del desiderio. '77: indiani metropolitani e altri strani, 2005, a collage of cuttings from the home-produced newspapers of an anti-establishment youth group that briefly formed in Rome.

Parole ribelli: i fogli del movimento del '77, 1997, survey of small publications of the 1977 left-wing political movement in Italy, many of which had a very brief existence and tend to lack bibliographic details.

Catalog for solo exhibition at Galleria Schwarz, Milan, 1974, no. 51 of collection of exhibition catalogs from Galleria Schwarz; essay is in Italian, English, and French.

Many more titles are awaiting cataloging in the Pablo Echaurren Papers.

Related collections

Movimento del '77

Tano D'Amico

Lotta Continua

Underground Press and 'Zine Culture

Pablo Echaurren

Pablo Echaurren was born on January 22, 1951, in Rome. He is the son of the Chilean surrealist painter Roberto Sebastián Matta and Angela Faranda, an Italian actress. Echaurren began painting at the age of 18 under the guidance of the Milanese gallery owner Arturo Schwarz, an early proponent of dada, surrealism, and the postwar avant-garde, whose keen instincts, landmark shows, and exhibition catalogs remain legendary for their influence on the arts in Italy over the crucial decades of the 1950s, '60s, and '70s. Echaurren’s early works in enamel on cardboard often depict grids of small, illustrative images of the inorganic elements of nature; in these works, the artist creates a kind of index of knowledge, but a knowledge that is linked with feeling and experience. In the 1970s, Echaurren frequented salons of Marxist artists and intellectuals, blending art and political dissent in covers he designed for several books published by Savelli, most notably Nanni Balestrini's novel La Violenza illustrata (1976), but also the notorious Porci con le ali ("Pigs with Wings"), a scandalous "sexual/political diary of two adolescents" published the same year by Marco Lombardo Radice and Lidia Ravera. Increasingly alienated by the pretentiousness, commercialism, and doctrinaire ideology he perceived even in circles of the autonomist, extraparliamentary left, Echaurren spurned orthodox notions of both art and politics, immersing himself in currents of countercultural revolt that had swelled among disillusioned young Italians from a variety of backgrounds since the late 1960s and culminated a wave of anti-authoritarian protests that swept across the country in 1977.

 

Collectively labeled the Movimento del '77, this rebellion drew energy from a bewildering diversity of movements and causes, ranging from hippies, women's liberationists, pacifists, environmentalists, and gay rights activists to militant leftists, anarchists, and even terrorists. Echaurren took a stand with those who opposed violence, authoritarianism, and dogmas on all sides. Inspired by the likes of Raoul Vaneigem, Gilles Deleuzes, Felix Guattari, as well as the precedents set by Dada and the revolutionary nonsense poetry and anti-art of Vladimir Mayakovsky, he combined a radical critique of the language of authority with an impulse to turn Rome's streets and squares into a canvas for the expression of a diversity of untamed desires. Mocking the jingoistic slogans that inspired demonstrations of mindless conformity on the left as well as the right, Echaurren played a major role in street actions, occupations, festivals, and events that injected a provocative yet playful aesthetic dimension to protests, seeking to challenge the norms and conventions of Italian society while at the same time dismantling barriers between "serious" art and the practice of everday life. Starting work  as an illustrator for the radical leftist paper Lotta Continua just as things were heating up in the spring of 1977, Echaurren joined a much more unruly group of dissidents and outsiders, the Indiani Metropolitani, who painted their faces as well as the walls of the occupied University of Rome, chanting nonsense slogans and chasing away leaders of organized labor when they tried to channel the unrest into marches to the beat of tried-and-true slogans . In May, the group occupied an apartment building just off the Piazza Navona, the so-called Casa del Desiderio, which functioned as a kind of hub for the movement until police forced them to vacate the site in December 1977. Retrieved from walls and doorways in the final moments, a thick stack of scribbled notes, drawings, poems, and messages contained in the Echaurren Papers documents everyday life at the Casa del Desiderio in exquisite detail.

 

Together with Maurizio Gabbianelli (alias "Fanale"), who had invited him to join the Indiani Metropolitani, Echaurren founded a series of self-made underground magazines over the course of several months at the height of the Movimento del '77. These include: OASK?! (which took its name from a nonsensical word fragment scrawled on a chalkboard in the occupied university); Abat/jour; Wam (Rome's answer to Wow!, Dario Fiori's magnificent mouthpiece of Milanese "Maodada"), Materiali, and Altrove. Eschewing standard editorial practices, layouts, and even straight lines of printed text,  OASK! took a Do-It-Yourself approach that invited participation from everyone involved, the results resembling the spontaneous configuration of scribbled messages on a blackboard, and--like many other underground newspapers of the movement--deployed collage, montage, and detournement to produce striking, at times hilarious, results. Gabianelli and Echaurren collaborated on numerous hoaxes, including bogus calls for meaningless protests and, most notably, the "Zurich Conspiracy," a flier purportedly seeking to rally support for the Cabaret Voltaire (a famous Dada venue of the First World War), which had allegedly just been stormed by police and its members arrested. Italian Futurism also became an important source of inspiration, and it was at this time that Echaurren first began assembling what is now the largest collection of Italian Futurist books, magazines, and ephemera in private hands (his other passion is collecting bass guitars as an art form).

 

In the summer of 1977 Echaurren began a lifelong relationship with Claudia Salaris. The two soon married and together they have written several important books on the Movimento del '77 and Italian Counterculture while continuing to build their collections. Compiled, edited, and written by Salaris, the first volume of a massive bibliography of Italian Futurism based out of their collection was published in 2013. In the 1980s and 1990s, Echaurren turned to the art of the comic strip, contributing to magazines such as Frigidaire, Linus, Tango, Comic Art, and Alter Alter and publishing two graphic novels, Caffeina d'Europa, about the founder of Italian Futurism, F.T. Marinetti, and Majakovskij, about the Russian Constructivist and street artist who inspired so much of the creative critical engagement of young Italians in 1977. He also penned several books on wine, food, and rebellion with the Italian gastronome, wine critic, and intellectual Luigi Veronelli. Returning to painting in more recent years, he also writes columns on art and the art market for the Huffington Post Italy. Echaurren and Salaris live and work in Rome.

Browse a selection of original drawings by Pablo Echaurren for Lotta Continua.

Browse notes and drawings from one of Pablo Echaurren's notebooks from the summer of 1977.

Pablo, Claudia, and Maurzio in Bologna, September 1977. Photo by Tano D'Amico.

Video Resources

The Indiani Metropolitani and the Casa del Desiderio

The Indiani Metropolitani were a loose band of rebellious youth who fought for nonconformity, tolerance, and diverity in the face of opposition not only from Italy's conservative status quo and the radical right, but also from the party line of Marxists, organized labor, and even the unorthodox "autonomists" of the extreme left in the Movimento del '77. Irony, play, nonsense,  and creativity were the weapons of choice for the Indiani, who generally opposed violence and fiercely rejected terrorism in any form. Emerging from the underground and counterculture movements that swept across Europe in the wake of 1968, the Indiani Metropolitani drew inspiration from a colorful spectrum of sources and experiences. Music festivals, experiments in cooperative living, exploration of alternative lifestyles, anti-war protest, advocacy of sexual liberation, feminism, gay and lesbian rights blended with the legacy of the historical avant-garde, of Dada, Surrealism, and Futurism, the rebellious strategies of the Situationist International, and the radical  criticiques of Guy Debord, Raoul Vaneigem, Herbert Marcuse, Wilhelm Reich, Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze, Felix Guattari, and others. But it was the popular image of Native American resistance, derived in part from stories on the "Red Power" movement circulating in the Underground Press, that gave a name and a face to spontaneous assemblies of rebellious youth that began cropping up across Italy in 1977.

 

The name Indiani Metropolitani first made its appearance in a slogan chanted by the  "Geronimo Group" during a protest on the Piazza di Spagna in 1976: "Sioux, Apache, Mohicans, we are all Metropolitan Indians!" But it was only with the occupation of the University of Rome in February 1977 that journalists seized on it as a label for a "movement" (if such it was) that was soon making the headlines throughout Italy. Among other things, the Indiani Metropolitani painted their faces as well as walls and pillars at the occupied University, chased leaders of the organized labor movement away (the so-called "Day of Lama") when they tried to take control of the protest, organized a "Festival of Spring" in opposition to a planned nuclear reactor at Monalto di Castro, and acted as a playfully disruptive force during many marches and demonstrations. Denounced for lack of ideological rigor, the Indiani were as much an irritant to the dogmatic left as they were to the extreme right (to view a rare clip of one of them, "Gandalf the Purple," dressed in mime and posing as Lotta Continua spokesman, click on the link in the Video Resources section below). Despite this "outsider" status (or perhaps precisely because of it), the Indiani Metropolitani continued to play a highly visible role, staging actions that transformed Italy's public spaces into zones of free spontanous creativity, at least for a while, most notably during an "International Congress against Repression," one of the high points of the Movimento del '77, that was held in Bologna that September.

 

The Casa del Desiderio was a squat in the center of Rome that functioned as an unoffical hub for the Indiani and other unconventional spirits from May until December of 1977. Located just off the Piazza Navona at Via dell'Orso 88, the building was occupied by Carlo Infante and a group close to the self-published magazine Oask?!, where the first Indiani "manifestos" had appeared in March. With a kitchen on the top floor and some fifteen rooms, the Casa del Desiderio was a scene of editorial meetings, happenings, bake sales, and parties, but also home for an intimate circle of friends and lovers seeking a domestic space free from the traditional constraints of bourgeois norms, cleanliness, and family life. When the police finally cleared the buiding on December 6, someone had the presence of mind to pull down hundreds of notes, drawings, poems, and messages still hanging on the walls. Documenting fleeting affairs, spats, aspirations, problems, and much more, they now preserve a record of everday life in this urban squat in intricate detail as part of the Pablo Echaurren Papers.

Browse original documents from everyday life at the Casa del Desiderio.

 

Resources

Clip from the famous conference in 1977 at the headquarters of the Foreign Press Association, featuring Gandalf il Viola, representative of the Indiani Metropolitani; beside him is Massimo D'Alema; Cavallo Pazzo interrupts.

Quelli del '77: a short documentary and extended dialogue between Pablo Echaurren and Claudio Sabelli Fioretti, addressing the Italian artistic and political counterculture movement, including the Indiani Metropolitani, in 1977.

Short film providing an overview of the artistic career of Pablo Echaurren, through interviews and excerpts from television broadcasts. Edited by George Santucci.

Interview with Pablo Echaurren and Nicoletta Zanella, curator, at the Cipolla Palace. Interview by Maria Luisa Prete, produced by Inside Art webTV.