Notes for a critical biography

Bianca Pedace

Giuliano Giuman was born on February 13, 1944 in Perugia, in the tower-house on Via della Viola that at the time was the residence of the painter Ulisse Ribustini. After studying music, he started working as a professional musician, with a passion for jazz and contemporary music. In 1964, after participating by chance in an impromptu painting event, he discovered his innermost vocation, and after a brief period working in both arts, he left music for the visual arts. He trained in the atelier of Gerardo Dottori, learning from the futurist master the rudiments of the trade, the avant-garde approach and the speculative style. Later, having left Umbria, he turned his feet first toward Rome, then above all toward Bologna and Milan. In 1972 he began a cycle on shadow, initially carried out with painting media, to which he soon added installations, performances and photographs. In 1976, among other things, he took up video making, working several times with the Centro Video in Ferrara. The insight and significance of these works quickly attracted the interest of some of the top international critics, including Crispolti, Dorfles, Barilli, Loda, Bentivoglio and many others, and led to collaborations with the most avant-garde galleries. In the same period he took part in important group exhibitions, some of which international, interspersed, since 1969, with significant solo shows. The X Quadriennale, presenting a clear panorama of art in those years, recognized the important role played by the young artist. Shortly after his collaboration with Enrico Crispolti marked the most qualifying moment of the social side of his work. In Germany in 1980 on a scholarship, his ever-continuing interest in music – a major part of his performances in the middle part of the preceding decade – urged him to begin a new creative season, in which the full recovery of his musical inspiration was accompanied by a decisive return to painting, which did not cancel out his installation work. That same decade saw his increasingly frequent participation at important exhibition venues, including, among many others, the Centre Pompidou in Paris. In 1985, a private commission gave him the opportunity for a first reflection on transparency, which would soon germinate into new happenings. Soon his painting would be accompanied by glass, which later became prevalent in his work. During the ‘90s he achieved remarkable results with this medium, especially at the international level and resulting in important solo shows at significant international institutions such as the Musée Suisse du Vitrail. Giuman’s teaching of the Language of the Stained Glass at the Accademia di Brera since 1999 has sealed this direction. In the same period he has been very active with large commissions for public, civil and sacred works, including the Baptistery of the Church of Santi Monica e Agostino in Rozzano (2008). Along with these he also did a number of large paintings. In 2009, at the solo show curated by Bianca Pedace at the ex-Mattatoio in Rome, he proposed, recognizing its import, a first historical interpretation of the conceptual photography of the 1970s, at the same time reentering the ongoing debate with the conceptual profile of his research. This busy season of renewed (post)conceptual rigor continued with the performance Darkness (Spoleto, 2009). In the same year he began an intense experience as the Director of the Accademia di Belle Arti of Perugia, where he stayed, with important results for the institution, until December 2012. He left the post to devote himself exclusively to creative activities, heralding new developments in his decades-long work with glass.