This unusual volume, by turns theoretical treatise, catalogue raisonné, art-historical survey, and virtual exhibit, offers fresh insight into Italian art since 1965. It illuminates the dynamic of substraction that informs a significant body of artworks by Giovanni Anselmo, Elisabetta Benassi, Gino De Dominicis, Francesco Matarrese, Marisa Merz, Luigi Ontani, Cesare Pietroiusti, Michelangelo Pistoletto, and Emilio Prini. Substraction may refer to the method through which the work of art comes into being - for instance, through a deliberate elision of some its parts - or to the fact that the work seems to be subtracted from the realm within which it emerges - for example, becoming unintelligible or dissociated. In either case, its existence as a work of art is inextricable from the gap generated by the work both within itself and between itself and everything else that exists.
      Can the discovery of a gap point to the nascence of a work of art? Is substraction something inherent in the live work of creativity and in its discreet manifestations, above and beyond the pressures of cultural and artistic consensus on a planetary scale? Addressing these and related issues, the author argues that these modes of substraction not only radically revise the received notions of Italian art and national art per se, but, more importantly, inspire fresh definitions of what artistic greatness may mean in a globalized world.

Gabriele Guercio is the author of Art as Existence: The Artist's Monograph and Its Project (The MIT Press, 2006) and several essays devoted to the history of art theory or to the works of artists such as Gino De Dominicis, William Kentridge, Joseph Kosuth, and Michelangelo Pistoletto.