Carlo Zinelli (1916–1974), often called simply “Carlo,” is one of the leading figures of Art Brut, along with Aloïse Corbaz, André Robillard, and Adolf Wölfli. The Collection de l’Art Brut in Lausanne, which possesses the largest body of work by Carlo, has dedicated this book to the Italian artist’s until-now underappreciated oeuvre. The volume gathers together several articles on the artist by experts in various disciplines, which explore multiple aspects of his rich and diverse output—for example, extensive writings that were typically merged with his signature graphic compositions, well known for their characteristic accumulations of human, animal, and even vehicular motifs. The book offers a rare opportunity to follow the development of Carlo’s art, which he regarded as the means of making his childhood memories and the things he loved in life—music, nature, and animals—eternal.
The words “recto verso” in the book’s title refer to the artist’s habit of making drawings and paintings of the same intensity and quality on both sides of a sheet of paper. For Zinelli, creating art was a way of escaping from suffering and sickness—a means of survival.
With bilingual texts in French and English, the book is lavishly illustrated with reproductions of Zinelli’s paintings and many photographs — including several by Life magazine photographer John Phillips—as well as a wealth of previously unpublished archival material.
Anic Zanzi is an art historian, exhibition organizer, and, since 2003, curator at the Collection de l’Art Brut. She has edited several publications for the museum, including Véhicules in the Art Brut La Collection series.