The 14 issues of Imago magazine published between 1960 and 1971 are on display at the ADI Design Museum. An opportunity to think about contemporary publishing

Until February 13 an exhibition of the ADI Design Museum in Milan collects images and documents on a experience among the most refined and innovative Italian graphics of the years Sixties: the magazine "Imago", house organ of Bassoli Photoetched parts. Giorgio Camuffo, who curated the exhibition, argues that it is not easy to come across an issue of Imago by chance.

Seeing all the numbers at once is a rare opportunity. Imago was born as a project in which graphics and printing "flex their muscles" to show what they are capable of, staging all the possibilities of publishing. And right now it seems that a magazine like the one invented by Michele Bassoli and Raffaele Provinciali interrogates the world of print publishing in a provocative way.

We do miss paper

The obsession with creating a philological dialogue between content and container makes Imago a project with few terms of comparison, contemporary or historical. Raffaele Provinciali and Michele Bassoli have heated discussions, at each issue, on how the magazine should be constructed from a paper converting point of view. Imago is enclosed in a handmade envelope that contains a folder, which in turn contains the pages of the magazine. There is no precise format: the sheets change in size, thickness, quality.

But there is a constructive logic: the magazine fits in the folder and in the envelope only if put back together in the right order. The intelligence required to handle it is taken for granted and is not a topic for discussion. There is nothing easy in the content and container, but it is all extremely clear. And above all, it does not allow distractions. The contents are discovered in an instinctive "unpacking" experience.

Today would be a great video for TikTok or Youtube. Does this make us nostalgic for paper? Not really. Perhaps it makes us regret an instinctive and light intelligence, which does not think but does.

Imago is above all an editorial research project.

Imago asks uncomfortable questions today

First of all, there is the theme of the “enlightened” industrialist, who in other words is someone willing to pay for inconvenient projects. Michele Bassoli, owner of Bassoli Photoengraving, is one of them. Except in rare cases such as Foscarini with Inventario, research as an end in itself is hiding. Not for lack of good will, but because she is busy elsewhere. Contemporaneity is threatening and looks good-naturedly at the experiments of the Sixties. And there is the unequivocal crisis of the publishing industry which has become "heavy" especially from an economic point of view. Print publishing does not pay and is destined to become, more and more, a source of financial and ecological woes, more than an experimentation ring. But are we sure we want to give up the card?

A clever and playful wonder box

The doubt arises, looking at Imago, that many of today's urgencies would find relief if not solution, in a more playful attitude that does not give up depth. The energies put into an editorial research project, on paper, give a different meaning to the "magazine" object and its content. If only for its physicality.

A magazine made by assembling contents and materials without a program or intention, Imago is above all a box of technical wonders of printing, photoengraving, paper converting. All sectors today considered secondary, niche, intended for enthusiasts. It is no coincidence that Corraini edits the exhibition catalog of the ADI Design Museum and Giorgio Camuffo.

Imago is pure research, from the heart

“It would be an adverse condition to the" thinking heart "if I could offer you words expressed with intentions of clarity. Unfortunately, I cannot do it since I myself am a man of metaphors, evocative with strong veins of fabulation (...) in front of your waiting for a message, which, even if translated, is not at all easy ". This is how Michele Provinciali addresses an audience of students, in Barcelona in 1995.

The thought of a man who has done a lot, worked and planned. And who, however, allowed himself the pleasure of embarking on 14 issues of a magazine made exclusively to practice good graphics and publishing culture.

Max Huber, AG Fronzoni, Giancarlo Iliprandi, Bruno Munari, Dino Buzzati, Giuseppe Pontiggia, Mario Soldati are just some of the graphic designers and writers involved between 1960 and 1971. How would Imago be today?