ABOUT US

Publishing house of contemporary art and popular culture,
trend bureau and communications agency,
DRAGO is an organisation for the diffusion of art and culture.

MANIFESTO.

DRAGO produces tangible products that capture the zeitgeist of the current world, encompassing ideas, trends, and revolutions from the past. We serve as an international voice, advocating for the emerging global movement we’ve dubbed “S.I.C,” or the “Systema of Independent Culture.”
This systema represents a fusion of pop culture, created through the synthesis of two pivotal elements of the 21st century: the internet and street art.
DRAGO cultivates robust client-partner relationships, offering strategic branding services for communication, positioning, and development. Our strength lies in our profound and unparalleled knowledge of art, fashion, and trends.
Tailored to meet our clients’ objectives, we endeavour to align each project with a strategic vision that underscores our commitment to quality and the significance of maintaining a distinctive presence in the market.

Drago. System of Independent Culture. Logo. About US

DRAGO

 

Since its inception in 2001 in Rome, DRAGO has been dedicated to art, photography, and culture in its broadest sense. Our focus is on the avant-garde, but it goes beyond that—a relentless quest for discovery to comprehend the essence of urban culture, especially Street Art and Street Photography. We function as a tuned radar, constantly monitoring the contemporary scene. To date, we have published over 100 books, available in the Highlights section, celebrating renowned artists such as Futura, Shepard Fairey, Ed Templeton, Estevan Oriol, JR, and Letizia Battaglia, among others. Our extensive catalogue is a journey of exploration, bolstered by a network of national and international distributors.

Our mission is to create what previously did not exist. We have championed many artists once considered “mainstream minorities” who eventually became integral parts of the official art scene, also referred to as “hardcore overground”. The German-Italian publisher, Paulo von Vacano, has an innate talent for pinpointing the most innovative and avant-garde talents, a skill acknowledged by the public, curators, and institutions not only in Italy but also beyond.

Unsurprisingly, DRAGO served as the official publisher for the French Academy in Rome, also known as Villa Medici, from 2010 to 2016, publishing catalogues for all exhibitions curated by the director, Éric de Chassey.

It’s worth noting that DRAGO’s private collections of Street Art and Street Photography have been featured in numerous exhibitions in museums and art galleries worldwide. This stands as a testament to the visionary team behind it – Paulo von Vacano, Domitilla Sartogo (Executive Directors), Nicola Scavalli (Art Director) and Alice Ghinolfi (Managing Editor). Their unwavering commitment to innovation and creativity has defined the 20-year success journey in publishing and exhibitions. 

HIGHLIGHTS

2023

From April 5th to July 23rd, Palazzo Cipolla, the Third Pillar Foundation in Rome, hosted the exhibition “Hypothesis Metaverse,” for which DRAGO proudly created the bilingual catalogue of the same name. From Escher to Refik Anadol, from de Chirico and Depero to Pak, from Balla and Boccioni to Krista Kim, from Piranesi to Primavera De Filippi: the great artists of the past meet contemporary pioneers of digital art in the realm of imagination, amidst immersive swings, digital Zen philosophy, techno-nature, blockchain sculptures, virtual reality, generative literature, and artificial intelligence.

Drago publishes “CALIFORNIA LOCOS: Renaissance & Rebellion,” a book of over 400 pages that brings to Europe for the first time the philosophy of the cultural collective composed of five Los Angeles artists, Chaz Bojórquez, Dave Tourjé, John Van Hamersveld, Norton Wisdom, and Gary Wong. The book embodies West Coast culture: surf, skate, street art, tattoos, photography, design, and music come together to celebrate Los Angeles in all its vibrant diversity and rawness. Being a LOCO means being in love with life, creative, rebellious, and open to the ethnic and cultural diversity of the world. LOCOS is a movement that embodies innovation, multiculturalism, and rebellion. With a major launch in the United States and 400 billboards in both New York and Los Angeles, the exhibition was launched at the Eastern Projects Gallery of Los Angeles in June. Europe embraces the cultural blend that the west coast of the United States offers, represented and displayed by Californian Locos. “The City of God (Rome) unites with the City of Angels (L.A.).”

In December Drago presents “Colla00139” a book and exhibition by the renowned Italian street artist Lucamaleonte, accompanied by captivating photographs from Marco Ubertini at Spazio Sette. Recognized both in Italy and abroad – to the extent that he was invited by Banksy in 2008 to the Cans Festival in London – Lucamaleonte’s consistent attention to detail and interest in ancient printing techniques define a unique style in his production of works, murals, and poster art, that are collected in this book, through which you can immerse yourself in the enchanting world of their iconic images depicting wonderful animals and symbols, offering a dreamlike journey through the city of Rome.

2022

On March 12 2022, Palazzo Bonaparte di Roma hosted the first large-scale solo show by Jago, known as ‘The Social Artist’ for his skills as an influencer and communicator. DRAGO is publishing a bilingual catalogue of his work entitled “JAGO: THE EXHIBITION.” This catalogue will encompass all his most important works, accompanied by texts written by Maria Teresa Benedetti, Vittorio Sgarbi, Padre Loffredo, and Sylvain Bellenger. To commemorate the occasion, DRAGO is also releasing “Under the Venus,” a limited edition photographic print by Dirk Voegel, depicting the artist in dialogue with one of his best-known works.

In May of this year, in collaboration with the mayor of the city of Nancy and the Museo di Belle Arti, the Galerie Poirel was home to the first large-scale institutional solo show by Alëxone. The exhibition featured several site-specific works and brought together some of the most significant pieces by one of France’s most important figures in Street Art. DRAGO is proud to announce the release of the catalogue titled “À Cœur Ouvert.” This journey through the fantastic and virtuosic universe of Alëxone Dizaz has received great acclaim from visitors and critics alike.

In response to the unexpected success of English photographer Janette Beckman‘s book ‘Rebels: From Punk to Dior,’ DRAGO is releasing a second paperback edition to coincide with the artist’s European tour in the autumn. Following exhibitions at Apertura Centre for Photography and Visual Arts in Malaga, Le Grand Jeu in Paris, and The Photographers Gallery in London, Beckman culminated her tour with a triumphant return to America, exhibiting at the International Center of Photography in New York.

In collaboration with the University of Bologna and the Rodrigo Pais Archive, DRAGO is releasing the first catalogue raisonné of Rodrigo Pais, titled ‘Rodrigo Pais, Sguardi sulla Moda, Fotografie dagli anni Cinquanta.’ The catalogue features texts by Chiara Pompa, Bianca Cappello (jewellery historian and critic), Glenda Furini, Simona Segre-Reinach, Vittoria Caterina Caratozzolo, Guido Gambetta (scientific director of the collection ‘Fondo Fotografico Rodrigo Pais’), and Francesco Citti, the president of the University Library of Bologna. It brings together some of the finest work by the fashion photographer, who documented the development of Italian society in the second half of the 20th Century, capturing unexpected moments from the recent past.

DRAGO is publishing ‘Armando, la furia del Quadraro,’ the first book by photographer Fabio Fasiello, who for years has followed and documented the life and struggles of Armando Casamonica, one of the most famous and controversial boxers on the Italian circuit. The book follows two exhibitions and offers one of the most comprehensive looks at the sport in Italy.

DRAGO is also releasing ‘The Red Skein,’ the most comprehensive monograph on the artist Swoon, one of the most influential street artists on the New York and international scene. Swoon has made a significant impact in the media and press and has presented her book in various galleries, including a remarkable solo show at the Turner Carroll Gallery in Santa Fe, a special launch at Jeffrey Deitch Gallery this Autumn, and a Summer show at Taglialatella Galleries, to name just a few of the influential figures in contemporary art who have played  a part in making this one of the most important books of the year.

2021

The DRAGO publishing house started 2021 with a bang! The first publication of the year was “B.A.D.: Beautiful and Determined,” a book focused self-acceptance, self-esteem, and the concept of beauty. This photographic book raises questions such as who decides what is beautiful and why should a woman be bound by predefined standards of beauty? It’s a manifestation of the empowerment of women and non-binary individuals.

To mark the launch of the Spring/Summer 2021 collection by REDValentino, DRAGO produced a monographic volume titled “Stazione Termini Lookbook 2009-2021,” featuring the photographic direction of the collection by Pierpaolo Piccioli, collated by Niccolò Berretta. For over a decade, Niccolò Berretta has been capturing people at Rome’s largest train station. In the Spring/Summer 2021 collection, he extended his photographic campaign to the neighbourhood of the station, Esquilino. This venture garnered significant media exposure, including coverage by the Financial Times, Vice, and Harper’s Bazaar, and it received huge international acclaim. The book nearly sold out in less than four months, featuring a sleeve created exclusively for the luxury brand. The book became a part of the campaign worldwide and was presented at LMDS, Le Monde, and SHC of Shanghai, as well as at events like the Pop Up Black Tag in the concept stores of Rome and Milan.

Neapolis” is the latest venture of the acclaimed international photographer Boogie: a photographic book capturing the essence of Naples. Boogie, known for immortalising the raw, harsher side of reality, from the outskirts of New York to the suburbs of Kingston, continues his tradition of delving into the heart of dark realities of crime, violence, poverty and social hardship. In “Neapolis,” featuring over 80 black-and-white images and a foreword by rapper Luchè, Boogie provides a collector’s book that belongs on the shelves of genre enthusiasts. The book was presented in Rome, where the author signed copies for numerous fans, and three limited edition issues have already gained a cult following among collectors.

Street Life” is the debut book by Brad Mirman, offering a unique and symbolic exploration of Los Angeles. Mirman, a director turned screenwriter, infuses each photo with a story, providing a glimpse into different cultures and ways of life. With over 100 black-and-white photos, Mirman reveals a West Coast that has never been seen before—powerful, authentic, and timeless images that evokes and speaks volumes about feelings. He describes his camera as his passport to different cultures and worlds, enabling him to leave his comfort zone and capture the extraordinary.

From October 8th to 10th, DRAGO served as the creative director and communications agency for the 21st edition of the International Tattoo Expo in Rome. This event, which initially introduced the concept of a “tattoo convention” in Italy and Europe back in 2000, has since become a global reference point in the world of tattooing. The Expo features contributions from various artists who specialise in tattoo art, as well as other disciplines like painting, photography, and drawing. Each year, DRAGO adds its artistic touch, collaborating with international artists, releasing an updated catalogue with every edition, and engaging the public through book signings and dedicated events.

In November 2021, DRAGO presented the most comprehensive monograph by Janette Beckman, titled “Rebels: From Punk to Dior,” in New York. Beckman, a British-born photographer based in New York, is renowned for her work in music photography and beyond. Her portfolio spans art, photojournalism, music, fashion, and pop culture, as showcased in “Rebels”, a testimony of her unique ability to extract beauty from unusual elements of society. Beckman’s career began during the punk rock era in London, where she worked with publications like The Face and Melody Maker, capturing iconic bands such as The Clash and Boy George. Upon moving to New York in 1983, she transitioned to the emerging hip-hop scene, photographing pioneers like Salt-N-Pepa, Run DMC, Grand Master Flash, Slick Rick and LL Cool J. Beyond music, Beckman has also delved into movements like Black Lives Matter and collaborated with prestigious brands like Levi’s, Dior, and Gucci. “Rebels” received widespread acclaim, earning recognition as a Books of the Year 2021 selection by the Rough Trade Centre of New York. The Museum Fotografiska in New York dedicated a significant space to the book and the author, extending the exhibition dates due to its immense success. The book was also presented at the Dior shop in New York, where a limited-edition print was released for the occasion. Media outlets such as The Guardian, Forbes, Fox5, and VMagazine also featured the book prominently.

During the second term of the academic year in 2021, Paulo von Vacano, editor and CEO of DRAGO, alongside Professor Paolo Cenciarelli, delivered lectures on the topic of “Luxury and High Fashion Brand Communication” for the Fashion Studies degree program at Sapienza University in Rome. They presented case studies from their work at the publishing house.

On December 8, 2021, DRAGO inaugurated the exhibition of Giuseppe Loy titled “A Certain Italy: Photographs from 1959-1981” at the National Gallery of Ancient Art at Palazzo Barberini in Rome. Curated by Chiara Agradi and Angelo Loy, this retrospective marked the first since the artist’s disappearance four decades ago. The exhibition was developed from Giuseppe Loy’s photographic archive, alongside the media partnership of Rai Scuola, involving the digitisation and cataloguing of 1565 black-and-white films, 338 colour films, and 1800 stamps and documents. The exhibition aimed to provide an overview of Loy’s lifelong dedication to photography. It featured a selection of 135 original black-and-white prints, archive documents, poems, epigrams, family photographs, and a video highlighting Loy’s friendship with artists such as Alberto Burri, Afro, and Lucio Fontana. DRAGO also produced a trilingual catalogue for the occasion, featuring texts by Edoardo Albinati (writer), Chiara Agradi (art historian), Luca Massimo Barbero (director of the Institute of Art History of the Giorgio Cini Foundation), Bruno Corà president of the Palazzo Albizzini Foundation “Burri Collection)”, Emilio Garroni (philosopher), Margherita Guccione (director of MAXXI’s Museum of Modern and Contemporary Architecture), Angelo Loy (president of the Giuseppe Loy Photographic Archive), Rosetta Loy (writer), and Alice Rohrwacher (film director).

2020
2020

The year began with publisher Paulo Von Vacano being invited to Roberto d’Agostino’s conference on Street Art, introduced by Stefano Boeri at the Triennale of Milan. This is where Paolo Cenciarelli, the author of “Vangelo MMXVIII,” published by DRAGO, showcased his work.

In 2020, the launch of “Crossroads: A Glimpse into the Life of Alice Pasquini” marked the first anthology of the globally renowned Street Artist Alicè. She has received widespread national and international recognition, awards, and was elected artist of the year by Rai Radio Tre.

DRAGO was commissioned by the Susan G. Komen Italia organization to present a mural project on breast cancer awareness. Artist Alice Pasquini was selected to create this mural, which was due to be unveiled during Race for the Cure, the annual event promoted by Komen.

In April, after the success of his two best-selling books, “LA Portraits” and “This Is Los Angeles,” Estevan Oriol reached the #5 position on the Netflix Top Ten list in the US. Collaborating with his friend Mister Cartoon, Oriol produced a definitive documentary that marked the culmination of DRAGO’s and the photographer’s extensive efforts in creating the most comprehensive overview of Chicano culture ever documented.

LA Originals” is a film that chronicles the Chicano and street art movement, solidifying Mister Cartoon and Estevan Oriol’s status as hip-hop legends both on stage and behind the scenes. Photographer Estevan Oriol and artist Mister Cartoon transformed their Chicano roots into an intrepid art form that encompassed street culture, hip-hop, and beyond. They elevated Chicano culture to a global artistic phenomenon, and their reputation has established them as pioneers.

2019

During the Venice 58th Art Biennale in 2019, titled “May You Live in Interesting Times,” DRAGO played a pivotal role in bringing the Bahrain Pavilion to life with the exhibition “The Wait: Contemporary Artists from Bahrain.” This exhibition included a highly successful opening event commissioned by Her Royal Highness, the Wife of the King of Bahrain, Art Select, and Tamkeen. DRAGO was responsible for directing the communications and PR aspects of this memorable event. Curated by Kaneka Subberwal, Amal Khalaf, and Tasneem Al Shurougi, the exhibition drew inspiration from a Nasser Al Yousif print from 1999, featuring figures gazing out to sea, peering beyond the horizon with a sense of anticipation, just waiting.

During the same Biennale, DRAGO created the catalogue for Zahrah Alghamadi’s solo exhibition, “After Illusion,” at the Saudi Arabia Pavilion. This exhibition, curated by Eiman Elgibreen and commissioned by the Misk Art Institute, showcased the work of this talented artist.

DRAGO also launched the book “Crash Kid: A Hip Hop Legacy” during a grand exhibition opening event which featured a Hip Hop battle in old-school style. This photo-laden book documents the birth of Street Culture in Italy, starting from the very first Hip Hop concerts in the 80s and the creation of the worldwide famous “Zulu Party.”

In the same year, DRAGO published the first anthology of Futura 2000, often considered the father of graffiti, titled “Full Frame.” The book traces Futura’s artistic journey from New York’s underground scene to his place in the official art world. His style has become unreservedly a foundational element of graffiti art.

Somewhere between traditional graffiti, graphics, and abstractions, Felipe Pantone’s work stands out, blending designer elements with highly evolved geometrical shapes to create an ultra-modern aesthetic integrated into urban landscapes. DRAGO published “Dynamic Phenomena,” the first and only book dedicated to the optical art of the new generation. It was an incredible success and immediately sold out.

2019 also saw DRAGO launch a series of events and exhibitions at the Contemporary Cluster in Rome, a trendy cultural space in the Italian capital known for promoting progressive forms of art.

At the 20th edition of the International Tattoo Expo in Rome, DRAGO organised a large exhibition and cultural arena, hosting a series of sublime events and exhibitions for attendees.

To honour the fashion and art icon Irene Brin, DRAGO published “Irene Brin, Gaspero del Corso” at the Obelisco Gallery. The book, authored by Vittoria Caterina Caratozzolo, Ilaria Schiaffini, and Claudio Zambianchi, serves as the first monograph on the Roman Obelisco gallery. This publication features contributions from the prestigious Sapienza University in Rome and the Modern and Contemporary Art Gallery in Rome. The Obelisco Gallery, operational from 1946 to 1981, played a pioneering role in promoting contemporary artistic research in Rome. The book was presented at the Museum Boncompagni Ludovisi in Rome during the Italian issue of Harper’s Bazaar (1962), featuring a collaboration between Frank Horvat and Irene Brin.

2018

In 2018, DRAGO achieved several significant milestones and collaborations in the diverse, influential world of art and photography:

Estevan Oriol‘s definitive anthology, “This is Los Angeles,” was published and offers a comprehensive representation of the city and its diverse facets, showcasing the extraordinary career of the renowned West Coast photographer over a 20-year span.

DRAGO published the catalogue for the exhibition “Art From the Streets,” curated by French gallerist Magda Danysz. This exhibition marked a significant milestone as it was the first time that the most renowned street artists were showcased in Asia. The event took place at the ArtScience Museum in Singapore, bringing street art to a new and diverse audience in the region.

In the same year, DRAGO curated and produced the exhibition “The Street is Watching” for Letizia Battaglia’s Centro Internazionale della Fotografia di Palermo (the International Centre of Photography in Palermo). This exhibition was based on the book of the same name and was conceived by Paulo von Vacano, Domitilla Sartogo, and Nicola Veccia Scavalli, who led DRAGO’s trend bureau. They spent over five years searching for international photographers to create the first-ever street art anthology.

Following the success of the “The Street is Watching” exhibition, DRAGO became the official publisher for the Institute. They launched a new bookshop and published the catalogue for the exhibition “Io Sono Persona,” which centred around stories of immigration. Over twenty Italian renowned photographers, including Francesco Zizola, Mimmo Jodice, Caterina Pecchioli, Giulio Piscitelli, and Francesco Radino, participated in this project. The catalogue was curated by Giovanna Calvenzi and Kitti Bolognesi, with photographer Francesco Radino contributing the preface.

During the Les Journées Particulières event organized by the LVMH Group, DRAGO selected several artists to create live paintings for Fendi at their luxury headquarters in Palazzo della Civilità Italiana in Rome, also known as the Square Colosseum. The theme, #RomaAmor, was a recurring and beloved one by Fendi’s artistic director, Silvia Venturini. Over three days, artists took turns performing and creating large panels with the support of prominent figures in the sector, offering a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the luxury products manufacturer. Some of the participating artists included Alice Pasquini, JBRock, Brus, Greg, and Pax Paloscia.

DRAGO continued to collaborate with Fendi in 2018 and selected other notable street artists, such as Napal, Gemello, Warios, and Lady Nina, generating a performance on the Roof of the Square Colosseum. During this performance, each artist customised a world map with special fluorescent paint and used drones to create a spectacular video used in the F For… Fendi media campaign, which received millions of views online.

2017

This year saw DRAGO curate and produce ‘Cross The Streets’ at the MACRO Museo di Arte Contemporanea di Roma (the Contemporary Art Museum in Rome), one of the largest exhibitions of street art ever organised privately for a public museum. The exhibition featured artists such as Shepard Fairey, Chaz Bojorquez, Mike Giant, Will Barras, Swoon, Cope 2, Roa, Nick Walker, Miss Van, Hyuro, Jeremy Fish, Sten & Lex, WK Interact, Invader, DAIM, and many more. There were numerous site-specific works of art on the museum’s walls: one section was dedicated to previously unseen photographs of Keith Haring‘s works in Rome in 1986, another section dedicated to Graffiti and Street Photography (including Ed Templeton and Estevan Oriol), and one on the stories of street art (chronicling the birth of the street art phenomenon in Italy). The Italian section showcased artists such as Lucamaleonte, Ozmo, Bros, JBRock, and Diamond. The section dedicated to pop surrealism featured Ray Caesar, Mark Ryden, Marion Peck, Camille Rose Garcia, and even the toys of Ron English. DRAGO published a catalogue for the exhibition containing images of the show, which also featured a silk-screen print of Lucamaleonte‘s work that quickly sold out.

DRAGO curates and produces Cross The Streets at the MACRO Museo di Arte Contemporanea di Roma (the Contemporary Art Museum in Rome), one of the biggest exhibitions of Street Art ever organised privately for a public museum. The exhibition includes artists such as Shepard Fairey, Chaz Bojourquez, Mike Giant, Will Barras, Swoon, Cope 2, Roa, Nick Walker, Miss Van, Hyuro, Jeremy Fish, Sten & Lex, WK Interact, Invader, DAIM and many more. There were numerous site specific works of art on the museum’s walls: one section was dedicated to never-seen before photographs of Keith Haring’s works in Rome in 1986, another section was dedicated to Graffiti, Street Photography (Ed Templeton, Estevan Oriol among others) and one to Street Art Stories (chronicling the birth of the Street phenomenon in Italy). The Italian section showcased artists such as Lucamaleonte, Ozmo, Bros, JBRock and Daimond, and the one dedicated to Pop Surrealism showcased Ray Caesar, Mark Ryden, Marion Peck, Camille Rose Garcia up to the toys of Ron English. DRAGO published a catalogue for the exhibition with images of the show, also featuring a silk-screen print of Lucamaleonte’s work that was part of the show, which immediately sold out.

2016

In 2016, DRAGO fully dedicated itself to the national and international launch of the work by the Italian photographer Letizia Battaglia, best known for her photography on Sicily and mafia crimes. This dedication resulted in the publication of two books, available in both Italian and English. The first, ‘Just For Passion,’ serves as the catalogue for the exhibition organized at the Museo MAXXI Museum – Museo Nazionale delle Arti del XX Secolo (the 20th Century National Art Museum) in Rome.

The second book, ‘Anthology,’ serves as the catalogue for the exhibition at ZAC, Cantieri Culturali alla Zisa in Palermo (Zisa Zone Contemporary Art Gallery in Palermo, Sicily). ‘Anthology’ features a preface written by curator Paolo Falcone and contributions from distinguished journalists such as Attilio Bolzoni, Melissa Harris, and Saverio Lodato. Additionally, it includes insights from curators Giovanna Calvenzi, Marta Gili, and Gisela Kayser, as well as photographers Christian Caujolle, Alexander Stille, Graciela Iturbide, Donna Ferrato, and Franco Zecchin. The catalogue also features contributions from notable figures such as the Magistrate of Palermo Nino Di Matteo, Mayor Leoluca Orlando, Senator Simona Mafai, writer Dacia Maraini, Antonio and Patrizia Marras, ICP director Fred Ritchin, and film director Wim Wenders.

DRAGO’s press office organised a presentation at The French Academy in Rome – Villa Medici, which gained international media attention, including coverage by The New York Times, CNN, The Wall Street Journal, The Daily Beast, and the BBC.

In 2017, The New York Times recognized Letizia Battaglia as one of the world’s 11 most influential women in its special edition of The New York Times Magazine.

2015

DRAGO embarked on an exhaustive research journey into Pop Surrealism, resulting in a trilogy of exhibitions showcased at the Dorothy Circus Gallery in Rome and London. This gallery quickly established itself as one of the most prominent and successful spaces dedicated to Surrealist Pop Art, not only in Europe but also worldwide. The Trilogy of the Dorothy Circus Gallery is a box set comprising three volumes: “Once Upon a Time,” “Walk on the Wild Side,” and “The Doors of Perception.” These three books can also be purchased individually and delve deep into the works of the top 70 leading artists of the movement, including Tara McPherson, Ray Caesar, Aaron Jasinski, Miss Van, Nathalie Shau, Naoto Hattori, Colin Christian, Clementine de Chabaneix, and Kazuki Takamatsu.

DRAGO’s commitment to Pop Surrealism extended to honouring Kazuki Takamatsu, one of the forefathers of this 1970s Californian art movement, who continues to be revered globally. They published an exclusive monograph titled “Hello, Here I Am” which, for the first time ever, unveils the techniques employed by the acclaimed Japanese artist in creating his famous and unsettling dolls.

2014

In 2014, DRAGO undertook several noteworthy projects. They produced the first and most comprehensive anthology of the acclaimed German 3D graffiti artist Mirko Raisser, titled “Mirko Reisser DAIM 1989 – 2014.” Recognised worldwide as one of the forefathers of graffiti art, this book offered the most extensive and complete publication of his work to date. DAIM had made his debut in public spaces back in 1989, and this publication marked the 25th anniversary of his influential artistic career, shedding light on the graffiti movement through a meticulous compilation of images and texts.

During the same year, DRAGO introduced “Rome Wasn’t Drawn in a Day,” a colouring book featuring a pop interpretation of Rome, created by the Roman artists DolceQ.

Additionally, DRAGO published the official catalogue of the first five editions of the Outdoor Urban Art Festival in Rome, a significant street art festival in Italy. The festival hosted incredible artists such as Borondo, Sam 3, Sten e Lex, Faith XLVII, and Agostino Iacurci. Throughout its existence, the festival found homes in various locations, with one of the most cherished being ‘La Dogana,’ which later transformed into a prominent cultural hub in Rome’s San Lorenzo neighbourhood.

2014 proved to be a busy year for DRAGO, as they produced several volumes for The French Academy in RomeVilla Medici. These included a catalogue for the exhibition “La Peinture ou comment s’en débarrasser,” curated by Éric de Chassey; catalogues for the exhibitions “Teatro delle esposizioni #4 and #5”, curated by Ludovico Pratesi and “Roma città aperta” curated by Claudio Libero Pisano, respectively; and a catalogue for the first Italian retrospective dedicated to the painter Simon Hantai, curated by Éric de Chassey.

2013

The publishing house released the incredibly successful “LA Portraits,” the second project featuring the renowned photographer Estevan Oriol. This book provides a fascinating glimpse into the vibrant gang culture that permeates the City of Angels. Estevan Oriol employs his signature style to capture not only the gangs of Los Angeles, but also Hollywood celebrities the likes of Robert de Niro, Al Pacino, Adrien Brody, and Samuel L. Jackson, among many others.

Meanwhile, in Europe, DRAGO channelled all its artistic efforts into the creation of “Les Bains,” a catalogue for the extraordinary Street Art exhibition curated by the famous French gallerist Magda Danysz. The exhibition was set in Paris’ most renowned nightclub, also named Les Bains (before its transformation into a boutique hotel). This exhibition showcased the works of over 50 artists, including ASH, Sowat, YZ, Sten e Lex, Invader, Ludo, Seth, and many more.

2012

DRAGO serves as the official publishing house of The French Academy in Rome – Villa Medici and produces the catalogue for the exhibition titled “Jean-Marc Bustamante, Villa Medici.” This project involves the artist’s exploration of the concept of space, particularly in relation to the exhibition venue, which holds special significance for the artist.

In the same year, DRAGO released the catalogue for the exhibition “Flying Carpets” at The French Academy in Rome – Villa Medici, curated by Philippe-Alain Michaud. This catalogue was published in three editions and intertwined rhythms and textures into the fabric of historical themes and artistic cinematography.

In 2012, DRAGO dedicated its efforts to the renowned French photographer JR, who is not only the youngest recipient of the TED Prize but also an acclaimed leader in the field of new Street Art. JR holds the distinction of being one of the few contemporary artists featured by the Louvre Museum in Paris. Under JR’s global project “The Wrinkles of the City,” DRAGO published two volumes: “The Wrinkles of the City Los Angeles” and “The Wrinkles of the City Shanghai.” These publications significantly contributed to his fame and provided insight into JR’s philosophy. His work delves into the intricate relationship between city landscapes and photography, recreating entire neighbourhoods through portraits of their inhabitants and narrating their stories.

2011

Among the publications for The French Academy in Rome – Villa Medici is the renowned “Europunk: The Visual Culture of Punk in Europe, 1976-1980.” It’s the first anthology of its kind documenting punk subculture and was published in three editions. The exhibition, curated by Éric de Chassey and Fabrice Stroun, showcased the diverse range of alternative visual artistic creations emerging from the Punk culture in Europe during the mid-1970s. The exhibition traveled to the MAMCO Museum of Contemporary Art in Geneva, the BPS22 in Charleroi, Belgium, and the Cité de la Musique, part of the Parc de la Villette museum complex in Paris. For this occasion, DRAGO published a new edition of the book.

In May of the same year, DRAGO collaborated again with The French Academy in Rome – Villa Medici  and with the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Bordeaux, to produce “Poussin and Mosè,” a catalogue for an exhibition featuring over 40 artworks, including tapestries, drawings, engravings, and paintings by the renowned French painter Nicolas Poussin. These works were dedicated to the life of Moses and were on loan from prestigious French, Italian, and British museums.

From Style Writing to Art – a Street Art Anthology” is an original anthology on Street Art often referred to as “The Street Art Bible.” It was published for the exhibitions in Paris and Shanghai, curated by the French gallerist Magda Danysz. This comprehensive book covers 40 years of graffiti history, from the pioneers of the 1960s to the developments of the 1980s and the emergence of new styles, techniques, and genres in the early 1990s. It also includes biographies of more than 50 artists, including Miss Van, JonOne, Shepard Fairey, Quik, Blade, Doze Green, Cope 2, Nick Walker, and Keith Haring.

In 2011, DRAGO also produced “Twinkles“, the very first book by Miss Van, the renowned French Street Artist, in collaboration with Magda Danysz. The book explores Miss Van’s artistic evolution, from her early Street Art work to her exploration of painting and symbolism, all while maintaining the erotic and ambiguous qualities that characterise her art.

2010

In 2010, a partnership was forged between The French Academy in Rome – Villa Medici and DRAGO, making DRAGO their official publisher for the next six years. During this period, DRAGO published catalogues for two exhibitions curated by the director Éric de Chassey. The first, titled “I Mutanti,” brought together five artists: Adel Abdessemed, Stephen Dean, Ellen Gallagher, Adrian Paci, and Djamel Tatah. The second exhibition, “Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres / Ellsworth Kelly,” explored the historical relationship and mutual influence between these two artists. Artworks by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres were on loan from The Louvre Museum, and pieces from Ellsworth Kelly’s private collection were featured.

In the same year, for The French Academy in Rome – Villa Medici, DRAGO released “La pesanteur et la grâce,” a catalogue for the exhibition “Abstractions et spiritualité.” This exhibition showcased the works of five international artists: Marthe Wéry, Callum Innes, Georges Tony Stoll, Emmanuel Van der Meulen, and Emanuele Becheri.

DRAGO also published “Muerte,” the first book on the ink genius Mike Giant, a world-renowned artist and tattoo artist known for his distinctive lettering and 21st-century Pin Ups adorned with writing and symbolic messages. The book became one of Amazon’s best sellers for several seasons, with the first edition selling out within a few months.

With the “Tour De Fuerza,” the promotional tour for the first book by the photographer Estevan Oriol, titled “LA Woman,” DRAGO travelled to various European capitals, organising events and traveling exhibits. The book sold out completely within a few months, highlighting its popularity.

2007

In 2007, DRAGO curated and organised the exhibition “Rome-Antic Delusions” by Jeremy Fish, featuring artworks created by the artist specifically for the exhibition in Rome. The accompanying catalogue, titled “Rome-Antic Delusions,” quickly became a cult favourite among art enthusiasts.

During the same year, DRAGO published “Heroes,” the catalogue for the exhibition held at the Roman Gallery Stefania Miscetti, featuring the works of Adrian Tranquilli.

2006

In a publishing milestone, DRAGO released “Izastikup,a unique collection of stickers from artists worldwide. This book serves as both a compilation and a critical review of original stickers created by over 750 artists. The project went beyond the pages of the book, resulting in an exhibition that toured five European countries. The curation of this project was undertaken by the artists Microbo, Bo, and The Don.

2005

In 2005, DRAGO undertook the direction and production of the exhibition titled “Kennedy: The Family, Values, and History” at The Adrian Temple in Rome. The exhibition featured a Gala dinner held at Villa Aurelia – The American Academy in Rome on the opening night and included a panel discussion with opinion leaders, celebrating the American-Italian relationship across political, cultural, and economic spheres. This ground-breaking exhibition was one of the earliest interactive exhibitions of its kind, showcasing 700 previously unreleased pictures of the Kennedy family, along with historical documentaries by Gianni Minoli and personal items such as JFK’s famous Hermes briefcase. Then Mayor of Rome, Walter Veltroni, described it as “the biggest exhibition in Italy that comprehensively depicts the lives of John, Robert, and other members of a family that made history in the United States and influenced that whole era.” The exhibition received a medal of honour from the Italian Prime Minister Carlo Azeglio Ciampi.

DRAGO also published “Young Sleek and Full of Hell,” a visionary volume by Aaron Rose, recounting the story of his Alleged Gallery in New York, which played a pivotal role in the underground movement at the end of the last century. The book featured interviews and artwork by notable figures such as Terry Richardson, Chloè Sevigny, Mark Gonzales, Carlo McCormick, Harmony Korine, Oliver Zaham, Ryan McGinley, Ari Marcopoulos, Rita Ackermann, Barry McGee, Phil Frost, and Bruce Labruce.

Additionally, DRAGO organized a special event in honour of Madame Bettancourt for the L’Oréal Group (Paris) and The French Academy in Rome – Villa Medici. This event celebrated the strong French-Italian relationship across political, cultural, and economic domains.

2004

DRAGO was involved in several significant events and publications:

DRAGO directed the opening event of the 5th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates in Rome, organised for the then Mayor of Rome, Walter Veltroni. This event was a prominent gathering of Nobel Peace Laureates, and DRAGO played a key role in orchestrating its opening ceremony. Additionally, a special event titled “Man for Peace” was organised as part of these activities.

La Transavangardia Italiana” was released this year, a book on Italian Neo-expressionism authored by Achille Bonito Oliva. The book featured artists such as Mimmo Paladino, Francesco Clemente, Sandro Chia, Enzo Cucchi, and Nicola De Maria. In conjunction with this publication, DRAGO organised an exhibition that travelled to various locations, including Buenos Aires, Santiago de Chile, and Mexico City.

In Milan, DRAGO organized a convention for the exhibition held at the Fnac Duomo megastore. The exhibition, titled “S-Style: Sistema della Strada,” explored the relationship and conflict between global consumerism, the latest fashion trends, and street style.

2003

DRAGO curated the exhibition “Angel of Decay” by the American artist Ed Templeton. This exhibition took place in the Roman building Acquario Romano and showcased Templeton’s fascination with youth culture, akin to the themes explored in Larry Clark’s films. It had previously been exhibited at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris and then at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Rome, with a preview held at the 55DSL store in Milan. “Angel of Decay” marked Templeton’s debut in Italy, where his interests as a skater, artist, and photographer converged, ushering in a new era of Urban Art. The catalogue for the exhibition, titled “The Golden Age of Neglect,” became a cult favourite among enthusiasts.

This year also saw DRAGO participating in “Now Underground,” an international exhibition curated by Cecilia Nesbit. DRAGO published the exhibition’s catalogue for this event, which featured forty artists invited to exhibit their works on a long aluminium wall along the rail lines of platform 21 inside Milan’s main train station. The exhibition explored the connection between contemporary art, street culture, fashion, politics, graphics, and design, offering viewers a journey through modern times.

Propaganda 30% Acrilico. Writing & Skateboarding” is the title of a book published by DRAGO in conjunction with an exhibition at the Museo di Roma in Trastevere. The exhibition showcased a bespoke collection of espresso coffee cups designed by a selection of Italian street artists, including Joe, Nico, Pane, Scarful, and Stand.

These activities underscore DRAGO’s involvement in promoting and supporting diverse forms of artistic expression within the urban culture and contemporary art scenes during this period.

2002

In a significant cultural event, DRAGO organised the “Via Crucis” exhibition, which was curated by Marianna Vecellio and Angela Dorazio. This exhibition took place in the converted church of Santa Marta in Rome and featured photographs by the Latin-American artist Andres Serrano. Serrano’s work is known for its fascination with sacred themes.

Ludovico Pratesi, writing for the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, described the exhibition as a representation of the relationship between the sacred and the profane. Pratesi noted that “Serrano has landed in Rome with a personal exhibition conceived as a representation of the relationship between the sacred and the profane.” He further commented that the exhibition served as a summary of the world’s illnesses through its strong and direct images.

La Stampa newspaper also covered the exhibition, highlighting that Serrano’s work did not deter theologians and that his approach could be seen as a form of useful transgression.

This exhibition demonstrated DRAGO’s commitment to hosting thought-provoking and culturally significant events that engage with complex and challenging themes.

2001

In its inaugural year, DRAGO published the catalogue for the solo exhibition of the American artist Brice Marden at the Institute of Graphics Calcographia Nazionale in Rome. This exhibition and catalogue likely marked the beginning of DRAGO’s involvement in promoting and showcasing contemporary art and artists, setting the stage for its future endeavours in the art world.

THE TEAM

PAULO LUCAS VON VACANO

Paulo Lucas von Vacano: Cultural Pusher, Global Nomad, Dragonchild. He is a multi-faceted individual with a diverse cultural background. He has German heritage but has embraced Rome as his spiritual home, living a life that spans across different cultures and worlds. His deep affection for the eternal city has led him to view Rome as one of the world’s most significant cultural hubs and brands.
Paulo has been actively engaged in the urban and contemporary art scenes for decades. Initially, he worked as a journalist, contributing to international magazines and newspapers. Later, he took on the role of president and shareholder at the Castelvecchi Publishing Company. Under his leadership, the company produced over 500 fiction and non-fiction books, as well as several magazines, including “Aspenia” of The Aspen Institute and Toni Negri’s “Posse.”
Currently, Paulo leads DRAGO, where he plays a pivotal role in bringing the innovative work of a new generation of artists to the forefront of collective consciousness. His extensive experience in the world of publishing and art has positioned him as a cultural influencer and advocate for contemporary artistic expression.

DOMITILLA SARTOGO

Domitilla Sartogo has held the position of Executive Director at Drago since 2004. Her professional journey has been marked by diverse experiences and roles within the creative and fashion industries. She has previously worked as a graphic designer for the Richard Avedon Studio, a talent scout and director of photography for Fabrica, the Benetton Group Centre on Communications, a professor at the Parson School of Design in New York and the director of communications for Borbonese, an iconic Italian fashion brand. She has also acted as the executive director of the Florence Biennale of Fashion & Cinema, curating seven exhibitions focusing on the relationship between film and fashion, bringing together award-winning set and costume designers with renowned fashion designers from around the world. Domitilla’s expertise in various aspects of design, communication, and fashion adds valuable dimensions to her leadership role in the art and publishing company.

NICOLA VECCIA SCAVALLI

Nicola Veccia Scavalli is an accomplished art director with a career spanning roughly twenty years in the field of Contemporary Art and Photography publications. Born in Paris, he currently resides between London and Rome. Nicola’s expertise lies in graphic design, and he has played a crucial role in curating the graphic designs for more than 450 volumes, including monographs and art books. His work has been featured in publications by various Italian, French, German, and American publishers.
In his role as Art Director, Nicola Veccia Scavalli is responsible for overseeing the artistic direction and visual design of all DRAGO books. Additionally, he is associated with Kittesencula Ltd, a company closely linked to DRAGO, contributes his design expertise to various projects in the art and publishing industry. Nicola’s extensive experience in the art and design sectors underscores his valuable contributions to the visual aspects of contemporary art and photography publications.

The Team of Drago Publisher. Vacano, Sartogo, Veccia Scavalli

PROMO VIDEO

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