IN THE NEW ISSUE OF “ACS” INTERNATIONAL MAGAZINE: 12 PAGES WITH MY REPORTAGE ABOUT “FLORENCE, GEOMETRY OF A CITY” 

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The opening pages about FLORENCE on the new issue of ACS international magazine (Publisher and Editor in Chief:Renèe LaVerne Rose). Reportage by Roberto Alborghetti, Italy’s Correspondent.

 

The new issue of ACS Magazine (May/June) is on line; Publisher and Editor in Chief: Renèe LaVerne Rose. ACS is an amazing window on arts, artists and culture across the world. This issue features also my 12  pages reportage about “Florence, Geometry of a City”, with texts and photos on two monuments of the Renaissance. So, click on the link and jump in the amazing dimensiono of one of the most beautiful cities in the world!

http://emagazine.acs-mag.com/acs-magazine-may-june-2016-issue/page/198-199

 

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The cover of the new issue of “ACS” magazine.

ACS magazine website:

http://www.acs-mag.com/

 

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ART & GEOMETRY # 2 : ST. MARY OF THE FLOWER, THE IMPRESSIVE CATHEDRAL OF FLORENCE

 © Photos: ROBERTO ALBORGHETTI

 

Santa Maria del Fiore (also known simply as the Duomo) is the cathedral of Florence known for its distinctive Renaissance dome. Its name (“Saint Mary of the Flower“) refers to the lily, the symbol of Florence. The impressive Gothic cathedral complex includes the Duomo, the famous baptistery and a campanile. The cathedral was built on the site of the previous one, Santa Reparata, prompted by the magnificence of the new cathedrals in Pisa and Siena. It was designed by Arnolfo di Cambio in 1294 to be the largest Roman Catholic church in the world (although the design was later reduced in size). After Arnolfo died in 1302, work on the cathedral slowed. In 1331, the Arte della Lana (Guild of Wool Merchants) took over responsibility for the construction of the cathedral and in 1334 they appointed Giotto as overseer for the work. His major accomplishment was the campanile.

It was not until 1355 that work resumed on the cathedral itself under a series of architects, including Francesco Talenti, Alberto Arnoldi, Giovanni d’Ambrogio, Giovanni di Lapo Ghini, Neri di Fioravante and Orcagna. The nave was finished by 1380, and by 1418 only the dome was uncompleted. In 1418 a competition was held to design a new dome for the cathedral. The two competitors were Lorenzo Ghiberti and Filippo Brunelleschi, who won the competition with his distinctive octagonal design. Construction on the dome began in 1420 and was completed in 1436; the cathedral was consecrated by Pope Eugenius IV on March 25, 1436.

It was the first ‘octagonal’ dome in history to be built without a wooden supporting frame (the Pantheon, a circular dome, was built in 118-128 AD without support structures), and was the largest dome built at the time (it is still the largest masonry dome in the world). Brunelleschi’s ability to crown the dome with a lantern was questioned and he had to undergo another competition. The lantern was begun a few months before his death in 1446 and was completed by his friend Michelozzo.

The cathedral’s facade was demolished in 1587 and left bare until the 19th century. In 1864 a competition was held to design a new facade, won by Emilio De Fabris. Work was begun in 1876 and completed in 1887. The huge bronze doors date from 1899 to 1903.

 

http://www.sacred-destinations.com/italy/florence-duomo

 

FLORENCE, ART AS AN EXPERIENCE OF GEOMETRY (#1) / IMAGES FROM THE BEAUTIFUL FAÇADE OF S.MARIA NOVELLA

© Photos: ROBERTO ALBORGHETTI

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The Church of Santa Maria Novella is one of the most important Gothic churches in Tuscany. The exterior is the work of Fra Jacopo Talenti and Leon Battista Alberti. The interior holds extraordinary works of art including Masaccio’s Trinità, Ghirlandaio’s fresco cycle in the Tornabuoni Chapel and Giotto’s Crucifix, among others. The convent was built between 1279 and 1357 by Dominican friars near a 7th century church located in the fields just outside Florence’s medieval walls. The lower part of the Marble façade, which is Romanesque in style, is believed to have been executed by a Dominican architect, Fra Iacopo Talenti da Nipozzano, while the upper part was completed only 100 years later in 1470 by Leon Battista Alberti. Thus, the façade is not only the oldest of all the churches in Florence but it is also the only church with its original, planned facade still in place today! As you will see, the church of San Lorenzo never even received its planned marble façade while others were completed centuries later but with new designs.

“GETTING RE-ACQUAINTED WITH MICHELANGELO”: FLORENCE CELEBRATES THE 450th ANNIVERSARY OF THE DEATH OF BUONARROTI / PHOTOGRAPHS AND PAINTINGS FROM XIX CENTURY TO PRESENT

 Pietà 2012

Madonna con Bambino

 Calco di Giuliano de' Medici by Michelangelo, ca. 1942.

“Getting re-acquainted with Michelangelo: Sculpture by Buonarroti in photographs and paintings from the XIX century to the present” is the theme of an exhibition which opened in Florence on February 18 celebrating the 450th anniversary of the death of the “Genius of the Renaissance” (March 6, 1475 – February 18, 1564).

As part of the celebrations the Accademia delle Arti del Disegno has coordinated to commemorate Michelangelo Buonarroti, the Galleria dell’Accademia of Florence in collaboration with Fratelli Alinari I.D.E.A. S.p.A. presents an exhibition that deals with the complex theme of the renewed interest and admiration for the artist from the XIX century until today.  The means for handling the topic will be the work of sculptors, painters and photographers who have looked to the figure of Buonarroti and his work as the iconographic point of reference in their own work.

And how could we not ‘get reacquainted’ with Michelangelo at the Galleria dell’Accademia for this very important anniversary?  We shall do so casting a particularly intense gaze at his immortal myth and contemporaneity, in an exhibition that will be cultivated, as always, in the ‘place of the David’” (Angelo Tartuferi). Cristina Acidini (Soprintendente per il Patrimonio Storico, Artistico ed Etnoantropologico e per il Polo Museale of Firenze) and Giampiero Maracchi (Presidente dell’Ente Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze) say : “ Departing from the photographs produced by several of the best-known studios and professionals from the XIX and XX centuries, we have sought to highlight the decisive role photography has played in consolidating the critical and iconographic fortunes of Michelangelo and, as a consequence, the celebration of his myth.  This will be a transverse reading that spans history and photography and will centre on the role photography has played, since its very origins, in celebrating one of the uttermost artists of the Italian Renaissance, selecting a restricted pantheon of images of his sculptures as monuments of the collective memory. The exhibition itinerary starts out with representations in a historicist vein of Michelangelo’s physiognomy and personality, featuring works by Eugène Delacroix and Auguste Rodin, as well as by other authors who worked with the then-new photographic medium from its very birth, including the early work of Eugène Piot, Édouard-Denis Baldus, the Alinari brothers, and John Brampton Philpot, to name only a few”.

The exhibition is characterised by continuously cross-referencing the various modalities of translating and proposing Buonarroti’s sculptures: from the photograph as an object of documentation to its interpretative specificity in focusing on sculpture, up to the total autonomy of twentieth-century photographers in creating new points of view and analysis of the work of art.  A new relationship is thus formed between art historians and photographers who are, in turn, entrusted with the responsibility to search out the forms and material of the work in support of historical-artistic studies. The cases proposed include Giuseppe Pagano’s photographs of the Palestrina Pietà, and the work of David Finn and Aurelio Amendola in collaboration with authoritative art historians who, from their work, have drawn important confirmations of their own theories and stylistic analyses.

As the myth grew stronger in the collective perception, Michelangelo’s presence was also recognised in the work of twentieth-century artists such as Medardo Rosso, Henri Matisse, and Carlo Mollino, as well as in the photographic studies of personalities such as Emmanuel Sougez, Herbert List and Horst P. Horst.  His influence continued in the Seventies with the explorations of Tano Festa, Paolo Monti, and Antonia Mulas, finally arriving at the expressions of contemporaneity with Helmut Newton and Gabriele Basilico, Gianni Berengo Gardin, and Gerard Rondeau.

In several well-known statues by Michelangelo captured with the photographic medium we will see the “reliefs grow softer and almost flat in frontal perspectives and lighting or, on the contrary, oblique views and distinct, grazing light will highlight the projections and sink the reliefs of the cavities into shadow.  The lenses identify and capture harmony and unrest, tranquillity and drama, convention and transgression, which they render in negatives and prints, in keeping with a variability grounded in subjectivity commanded by operators and operations, essentially corresponding to the photographer” (Cristina Acidini).

The exhibition itinerary ends with references to the theme of the copy and of the multiple in the epoch of reproducibility and massification, confronted by Karen Knorr, Lisa Sarfati and Tim Parchikov.  Michelangelo is the emotional idea in the work of Luca Pignatelli, and the formal model of reference of the staged photography of Frank Horvat, Youssef Nabil, and Kim Ki duk, up to the point in which he becomes ‘absence’ in the images of Thomas Struth and Candida Höfer.

Under the High Patronage of the President of the Republic, the exhibition is curated by Monica Maffioli and Silvestra Bietoletti who have also edited the catalogue published by Giunti.  It is promoted by the Ministero dei beni e delle attività culturali e del turismo through the Direzione Regionale per i Beni Culturali e Paesaggistici della Toscana, Soprintendenza Speciale per il Patrimonio Storico, Artistico ed Etnoantropologico e per il Polo Museale della città di Firenze, the Galleria dell’Accademia, Firenze Musei and Ente Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze with the collaboration of Fratelli Alinari I.D.E.A. S.p.A.

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Getting re-acquainted with Michelangelo: Sculpture by Buonarroti in photographs and paintings from the XIX century to the present

Exhibition venue:            

Galleria dell’Accademia

Via Ricasoli, 58 – Firenze

                  

From 18 February to 18 May 2014

Admission:                           

Full price: € 11.00; concessions: € 5.50 for E.U. citizens aged 18 to 25

Admission free under 18 and EU citizens over 65 years old.

Opening Hours:

Tuesday – Sunday  8.15am – 6.50pm; the ticket office closes at 6.20pm

Closed on Mondays and 1st May

                      

Guided tour for school groups by appointment only 3.00 per student 

Guided tours for groups:

Information and reservation Firenze Musei ph.+ 39 055.290383

begin_of_the_skype_highlighting + 39 055.290383 GRATIS 

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e-mail: firenzemusei@operalaboratori.com

Website: www.unannoadarte.it

THE REMARKABLE “HEMISPHERES” OF TERZA LOGGIA: HOW RENAISSANCE PAINTED THE MODERN WORLD / INSIDE THE VATICAN PALACES # 4

Terza Loggia (Third Loggia) is another stunning place in the Apostolic Palace in Vatican City, Rome. On its walls we admire maps of the modern world painted between 1560 and 1585. They include the wonderful Emispheres, the frescoes designed by Ignazio Danti (1582 ca). I recently had the opportunity to visit Terza Loggia (I was in Rome to meet Pope Francis for the presentation of “Francis”, the illustrated and historical biography I wrote about him). I’m so glad to share some pics and news I found in a very interesting research by Francesca Fiorani (“Cycles of Painted Maps in the Renaissance”).

The first map cycles with maps of the modern world were painted for the papal residence at the Vatican between 1560 and 1585. Pope Pius IV commissioned the French cartographer Etienne Du Pérac to prepare the cartoons for thirteen modern maps of Europe, which were to be painted in the east wing of the Terza Loggia, the third story of the Renaissance addition to the papal residence Du Pérac arranged the maps according to the order of Ptolemy, but based their cartographic content on Gerardus Mercator’s map of Europe (1554) and additional modern maps.

On the wall above the maps are landscape views related to the mapped territories, while on the vaults of the loggia are inscriptions commemorating papal deeds, along with scenes painted by Lorenzo Sabatini illustrating examples of good and bad life. Unfinished at Pius IV’s death and untouched by his successor, Pius V, the Terza Loggia was completed around 1580, when Gregory XIII entrusted the Dominican polymath Ignazio Danti with the design of a world map divided into two hemispheres and ten maps of Africa, Asia, and America, which were painted by Giovanni Antonio Vanosino. Danti, who had served Gregory XIII in the Galleria delle Carte Geografiche, based the completion of the Terza Loggia on the similar map cycles in the Guardaroba Nuova in Florence that he had made for Cosimo I in the 1560s, a fact attested by comparing the Vatican maps with the earlier Florentine maps.

The maps of the world were complemented by city views that have not survived. Danti was also responsible for the connection between the maps and the other parts of the decoration. On the wall above the maps, a frieze painted by Antonio Tempesta and Mattheus Bril illustrates the procession staged in 1580 for the translation of Gregory of Nazianzus’s body to Saint Peter’s, celebrating Gregory XIII’s wish to reunify believers under the Greek and Roman rites. On the ceiling, scenes of paradise inspired by the breviary, the liturgical text Gregory XIII had reformed in the early 1580s, refer to the papal desire to unify the Catholic liturgy worldwide. The inscriptions commemorating important events of Gregory XIII’s pontificate, also on the ceiling, restate the centrality of Rome to Catholic spirituality.

As a whole, the Terza Loggia celebrates the wish of the post-Tridentine papacy to expand Catholicism universally by reconverting large parts of Europe to the Catholic faith, reaffirming the unity between those under the Greek and Roman rites, and converting the peoples of Africa, Asia, and America. The actions of the Roman pontiffs, recalled metonymically in the frieze of the Gregorian procession and in the inscriptions of papal deeds on the ceiling, took place in Rome, but their effect needed to spread to the world mapped on the walls below. That papal actions were meant to affect the world spiritually rather than politically is made manifest by the scenes from paradise, which crown both the scenes of papal deeds and the maps of the world below.

Following a firm medieval tradition, post-Tridentine popes adopted the language of Renaissance cartography as a vehicle of their ecumenical message. But, unlike their medieval predecessors, they had detailed maps with which to penetrate unknown lands and thus transform the medieval dream into a real program of propagating the faith. Indeed, the use of modern cartography for religious purposes became such a distinctive element of papal iconography that the Terza Loggia, even before its completion, served as a model for Cardinal Farnese’s Sala della Cosmografia discussed earlier. Francesca Fiorani, From “Cycles of Painted Maps in the Renaissance

(4 – To be continued)

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THE TRIUMPH OF RENAISSANCE: THE IMPRESSIVE REGAL ROOM AND DUCAL ROOM / INSIDE THE VATICAN PALACES #3

© Roberto Alborghetti - Sala Regia and Sala Ducale (12)

Sala Regia (Regal Room) and Sala Ducale (Ducal Room) are two beautiful rooms in the Apostolic Palace in Vatican City. They aren’t generally open to visitors: they usually host consistories, conferences, papal hearings or special events. I recently had the opportunity to visit them (I was in Rome to meet Pope Francis for the presentation of “Francis”, the illustrated and historical biography I wrote about him). Here some news (from New Advent website) about Sala Regia and Sala Ducale. They well represent the triumph of Renaissance.  

The Sala Regia (Regal Room)

 Although not intended as such, this broad room is really an antechamber to the Sistine Chapel, reached by the Scala Regia (Royal Staircase). To the left of the entrance formerly stood the papal throne, which is now at the opposite side before the door leading to the Cappella Paolina. The hall was begun under Paul III by Antonio da Sangallo the Younger and was completed in 1573. The elegant barrel-vault is provided with the highly graceful and very impressive plaster decorations of Pierin del Vaga. The stucco ornaments over the doors are by Daniele da Volterra. The longitudinal walls are broken on the one side by two, and on the other by three, large doors, between which Giorgio Vasari and Taddeo Zuccaro have introduced very powerful frescoes, whose effect is more than ornamental. They depict momentous turning-points in the life of the Church, among others the return of Gregory XI from Avignon to Rome, the battle of Lepanto, the raising of the ban from Henry IV, and the reconciliation of Alexander III with Frederick Barbarossa. This hall served originally for the reception of princes and royal ambassadors. Today the consistories are held in it, and an occasional musical recital in the presence of the Pope; during a conclave it is a favourite promenade for the cardinals.

The Sala Ducale (Ducal Room)

The Sala Ducale lies between the Sala Regia and the Loggia of Giovanni da Udine. Formerly there were here two separate halls, which were converted into one by Bernini by the removal of the separating wall (the position of which is still clearly perceptible). The decorative paintings, which are of a purely ornamental nature, are by Raffaellino da Reggio, Sabbatini, and Matthæus Brill. In this impressive hall were formerly held the public consistories for the reception of ruling princes. It now serves occasionally for the reception of pilgrims, the consecration of bishops, when (as rarely happens) this is undertaken by the Pope, or is used for the accommodation of specified divisions of the papal household, when the pope holds a consistory in the Sala Regia, proceeds to the Sistine Chapel, or sets out with great solemnity for St. Peter’s.

(3 – To be continued)

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INSIDE THE VATICAN PALACES #2 / EXCLUSIVE: THE FRESCOES BY MICHELANGELO IN CAPPELLA PAOLINA (LIMITED ACCESSIBILITY AREA)

I recently had the honour to meet Pope Francis for the presention of the biography I wrote about him. The private encounter took place in Casa Santa Marta, an unpretencious house where he usually lives. Before the encounter I had a very special gift: the possibility to visit some of the beautiful rooms in the Apostolic Palace in Vatican City. I been also in the enchanting Cappella Paolina (the Pauline Chapel) to admire the incredible fresco paintings by the Italian Renaissance master Michelangelo Buonarroti : The Crucifixion of St. Peter (c. 1546–1550) and The Conversion of Saul (c. 1542–1545).

Being a sacred space, Pauline Chapel is a limited accessibility area. Despite the efforts of contemporary scholars to illustrate the genius behind these two works, they remain relatively obscure. This is due primarily to the fact that tourists are not permitted to enter the Pauline chapel because it’s a worship space. Most of those who do know of these works will never have the opportunity to see them in person. According to Williams no other work by Michelangelo has ever been so grossly misrepresented in reproductions. The only way to view these works as the artist intended them to be seen is to see them in situ.

The Crucifixion of St. Peter is the last fresco executed by Michelangelo. The artist portrayed St. Peter in the moment in which he was raised by the Roman soldiers to the cross. Michelangelo concentrated the attention on the depiction of pain and suffering. Pope Paul commissioned this fresco by Michelangelo in 1541 and unveiled it in his Cappella Paolina. Restoration of the fresco completed in 2009 revealed an image believed to be a self-portrait of Michelangelo himself. Vasari states about the fresco: “There are no landscapes to be seen in these scenes, nor any trees, buildings or other embellishments and variation”.

The positioning of St. Peter himself is often noted as the most interesting innovation Michelangelo implemented in this piece. He defied convention by positioning Peter’s upper body so that it cranes upward and twists his neck around so that his eyes make contact with the viewer.

The Conversion of St. Saul or St. Paul  is often discussed in conjunction with The Crucifixion of St. Peter. As its title suggests, the fresco represents the conversion of a lawyer from Tarsus named Saul (a man who prosecuted Christians) into a follower of Christ. In the book of Acts, Paul states that he saw an impossibly bright light and heard the voice of Christ himself. The blindingly bright light is the Apex of this story. The style is more mannerist than his earlier Sistine Chapel frescoes, and was not as well received by contemporaries.

Giuseppe Frangi (30 Giorni) writes: “On 25 January 1540, the Feastday of the Conversion of St Paul, until then celebrated in the Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls, Pope Paul III Farnese consecrated to the saint whose name he had taken, the new parva (small) chapel, commissioned from Antonio da Sangallo the Younger and built in just three years in the heart of the Papal Palace. The chapel – parva as opposed to the chapel magna, the functions of which had been taken over by the Sistine – was the chapel intended for the conclave. And above all it was the place where the Blessed Sacrament was kept, for which purpose it had been fitted with both an altar and a tabernacle. When Paul III consecrated it, the chapel had no decorations, but it was clear who would climb the scaffolding: it was again up to Michelangelo, just down from the scaffolding of the Sistine Chapel, where he completed the great toil of the Last Judgment”.

 The reconstruction of the work – Frangi states – done day by day, made possible by modern restoration techniques, shows Michelangelo was capable of getting through a large amount of work in a day. Eventually there were 172 working days (85 for the Conversion of St Paul and 87 for the Crucifixion of St Peter), spread over seven years, with the break in 1544, when he was halted by health problems. These frescoes were largely ignored for centuries and incurred a great deal of damage due to neglect. In the early twentieth century there were some scholars who came to reconsider the frescoes under the new light of expressionism and abstraction.

William Wallace proposed an entirely new perspective on the subject claiming that the disproportionate quality of the figures is not a failing on the part of Michelangelo, but rather another instance of his genius. According to Wallace, the real innovation in this piece comes from the incorporation of time and space in the overall composition of the frescos. In addition to conceiving of these frescoes in terms of perspective, Michelangelo also took into consideration the architectural and environmental context they were to be set in.

After the last restoration Pope Benedict XVI said: “The two faces are opposite each other. One might therefore imagine that Peter’s face is actually turned towards the face of Paul, who, in turn, does not see, but bears within him the light of the Risen Christ. It is as though Peter, in the hour of supreme trial, were seeking that light which gave true faith to Paul”.

(2 – To be continued)

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