WHITE NOISE - Chiara Nicolini, 2012
Perrone’s “White Books” are made of real books treated with water, glue and plaster, combined with other materials, and then finished with a final coat of white paint. Their titles are extremely varied and fascinating.
We have been used for centuries to books that talk to us by means of words and images, but also through their aesthetic appearance (binding, choice of paper, type fonts and layout, etc.) Milanese artist Lorenzo Perrone creates books that talk to us by means of the absence of all their traditional features: they are volumes in which text, images, colours, movement have been obliterated by a stiff coat of white plaster. The result of this artistic operation is pure white book-sculptures, forever frozen in the role that the artist assigns to each of them. He calls them “White Books”.
Perrone began making his “White Books” nine years ago and has created over 1.000 of them so far. For him, this is the materialization of an inner voice that has finally found its way out into the world. He believes that his varied artistic and work experiences have all contributed to bring him towards his “White Books”, which he sees as a “primary matter” through which he expresses himself.
The artist began his studies at the Scuola del Libro (“School of the Book”) of the Società Umanitaria in Milan – then directed by the great designer Albe Steiner – where he gained an in-depth knowledge of all aspects of the book. Next he enrolled at the painting school of the “Castello Sforzesco” in Milan, where the renowned painter Alfredo Mantica was his teacher and first mentor. After further studies at The New School and the School of Visual Arts in New York, Perrone began working for advertising agencies such as J. W. Thompson (first in Milan, then in London), and Ted Bates in New York, where he stayed for ten years. He then returned to Milan, where he was for a while Art Director of Young & Rubicam, before opening Blue44, a graphic design studio. This busy work career has been accompanied by the cultivation of a variety of artistic activities such as cinema, music, photography, and the writing of stories.
It is an impressive career, but Perrone prefers to talk about his “White Books”, and about his weird and wonderful fascination with the colour white. He says that it all began when he woke up one cold February morning and found Milan under a thick coat of pure white snow. After that, he began making an on-going mental record of all the white things he saw: the Fissan paste, those milk candies called “Galatine”, The Beatles’ White album, Fabriano paper, the Whirling Dervishes’ white costume, George Segal’s plaster casts, Georgia O’Keefe’s cows’ skulls, Claes Oldenburg white soft typewriter, Andy Warhol’s hair … White is the colour of purity and candour, of silence and contemplation. It looks simple and plain, but it is powerfully eloquent.
Perrone’s “White Books” are made of real books treated with water, glue and plaster, combined with other materials, and then finished with a final coat of white paint. Their titles are extremely varied and fascinating. They are often determined by the addition of an object such as a skull, barbed wire, nails, nibs, a chain, a wheel, a top hat, etc.; sometimes, they are suggested only by the way pages are folded. Perrone says that when he begins a new work he always has a clear idea in mind. However, “White Books” are not passive object: they collaborate in their making and sometimes lead their author towards unexpected destinations.
In a frantic life that bombards us every day with thousands of words, images, colours, noises, “White books” are a soothing oasis. They are mesmerizing works of art. There is something magic in their apparent simplicity, in their endless inventiveness, in their motionless pure white. But they are not decorative objects: many of them bear clear social implications. Perrone has been exhibiting them since 2004 in collective and solo exhibitions at several national and international galleries. His greatest dream would be to see them one day in the collection of the MoMa in New York; we sincerely hope that it comes true.
For more images and a complete list of the titles and measurements of Lorenzo Perrone’s “White Books” see libribianchi.info We thank the photographer Franco Berra for allowing us to reproduce a selection of his beautiful shots.