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Portraits of An Artist

NEW YORK — As far as first impressions go, the Italian artist Francesco Vezzoli makes a somewhat disarming one: a man completely obsessed by female icons from the Sixties and Seventies, and in particular those who figure into Andy Warhol’s...

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At the Liverpool Biennial at the Tate Liverpool which runs through Nov. 24, Vezzoli stages his video collaboration with Bianca Jagger, "The End of the Human Voice," which was inspired by Warhol’s film "Lupe." A double-projection installation, Jagger sobs into a phone, re-creating Jean Cocteau’s 1930 script "The Human Voice," while Vezzoli lies comatose on a bed with a telephone receiver on his chest.

"You’re asking people to do something slightly twisted, since it’s a work of art. It’s all motivated for love, for these icons and actors," he says adding that he’s digging into pop culture to create something new, not to exploit his stars’ celebrity. "Celebrity should only be involved if it is scientific. The tricks will show through."

At the Venice Biennale in 2001, he created a sensation when he incorporated the real-life Veruschka into his installation of embroidered portraits. She sat, wearing vintage Valentino couture in the Italian Pavilion, needlepointing her own self-portrait, essentially playing herself. It was an image, he says, that was both glamorous and tragic.

Vezzoli says his next project is a toss-up between a remake of Pasolini’s "Love Meetings," a documentary film that travels throughout Italy asking street people about their sexual behaviors, and projects involving Amanda Lear, Salvador Dali’s protégé, and Amalia Rodriguez, a Portuguese singer. Whatever the case, it’s bound to be wryly nostalgic. "My work is about memory," he says. "But you have to remember, I am always winking."

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