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The Culture of Emilia-Romagna

Visual arts

Niccolò dell’Arca Pietà detail Bologna Church of Santa Maria della VitaLocated at the crossroads between continental and Mediterranean Italy, Emilia Romagna has always been a place where different cultures met and fused. Thus the cultural map of the region is extremely rich and complex, characterised by the different characters of its cities in the absence of a strong central authority. Nonetheless, the contact, sometimes conflictual, "between the colourful and irregular fantasy of the Celts and the constant proposal of the more supple, regular models of Greek culture" (Riccomini) over time has formed the character peculiar to the artistic response to a multitude of stimuli in the region. Wiligelmo Telamone detail of the Sacrifice of Abel and Cain Modena, Cathedral façadeThis character is seen clearly in the many Romanesque cathedrals of the Po Valley, symbols of community pride; the first was the monumental construction of the impressive cathedral in Modena at the end of the 11th century. The masterpiece of architect Lanfranco and sculptor Wiligelmo, who inaugurated here the season of Italian plastic arts, work on the cathedral brought together in vigorous synthesis all the phases of Western devotion: from Genesis and the Breton King Arthur cycle to the crude realism, of Provençal origin, of the reliefs of the Masters of Campione (12th century).

This injection of Romanesque themes into the underlying ancient heredity is remarkable in the sculptures of the Parma baptistery (1196): appealing scenes calibrated by Benedetto Antelami on the measure of the building´s Roman monumental aspect, a formula unheeded by the artist of the cycle of the months, among the masterpieces at the Ferrara cathedral museum, in favour of greater realism. European Gothic quickly made its presence felt shortly thereafter, with many beautiful buildings in our region, among which we may note S. Francesco Church in Bologna (1263) or the Piacenza City Hall, appropriately known as Benedetto Anelami Deposition Parma Cathedral; Jacopo della Quercia Noah's drunkenness Right pillar, fourth panel Bologna, S. Petroniothe "Gothic" (1281). A visit to the Municipal Medieval Museum in Bologna will serve to get an overall view of the art of that time. Vitale da Bologna, in an impressive series of paintings in the Bologna Pinacoteca (National Gallery), represents pictorially the descriptive naturalism seen in the tombs of the glossarists. The varied nature of the Bologna art scene contributed in a variety of ways: for instance, Mezzaratta gained inspiration for his lively, descriptive frescoes, reassembled in the Pinacoteca, from the Bolognese school of the miniature. This is a very different figurative formula from that of the noble, cadenced solemnity of Rimini painters, influenced by the personality of Giotto, who left in Rimini, in the Malatestiano Temple, a splendid Cruxifix (1312).Jacopo della Quercia Noah's drunkenness Right pillar, fourth panel Bologna, S. Petronio

Late Gothic architecture, represented by the Estense castle (1385) in Ferrara and the construction of San Petronio in Bologna, initiated by Antonio di Vincenzo in 1390, has its artistic counterpart in the frescoes of Giovanni da Modena in the Bolognini chapel (Hell, Paradise, Stories of the Three Kings, 1415), a didactic, narrative cycle that introduced the rich variety of accents from the 1300s into 1400s´ art.

Jacopo della Quercia´s sculptures in the main portal of the S. Petronio basilica were finished only a few years later (1425), bringing to Bologna Tuscan artistic tradition, present in Rimini with the works of Leon Battista Alberti, Piero della Francesca, Agostino di Duccio and Matteo di Pasti active in the construction of the Malatestiano Temple (1450). In nearby Forlì, Simone Ferrucci from Fiesole, in his masterpiece, the tomb of Barbara Manfredi in S. Mercuriale (1466), offered other provocative stimuli from central Italian art, brought into the region by other authoritative masters of "foreign" works: in Bologna, Paolo Uccello in the church of S. Martino (1437); in the church of S. Domenico, Filippino Lippi (1501) and Michelangelo, who at the age of nineteen, sculpted some of the statues (Angel, St. Petronius, St. Procolus) which complete Niccolò dell´Arca´s Giovanni da Modena Wise men's sea voyage Bologna, S. Petronio, Bolognini Chapeldecorations on the sarcophagus of the saint (Nicola Pisano, 1267).

Of the works of Niccolò dell´Arca from Apulia we may remember the Compianto in S. Maria della Vita in Bologna (1463), a robust synthesis of Tuscan and Burgundy culture, before moving on to the florid season of the renaissance in Ferrara, represented by the architect Biagio Rossetti in the "Herculean addition" and the Palazzo dei Diamanti, and by the frescos of Schifanoia, where Tura, del Cossa and de´ Roberti produced a masterpiece of Po Valley humanism accented with persistent veins of late-gothic courtly style. This was an aristocratic model for Lorenzo Costa and Francesco Francia, who painted the Bentivoglio chapel in S. Giacomo Maggiore and the oratory of S.Cecilia (1506), cornerstones of Emilian renaissance art inspired by Umbrian-Tuscan art, an influence that escaped the "irregular" genius of Amico Aspertini, another important artist working in the region.

Vitale da Bologna Madonna of the teeth Bologna, Davia Bargellini Museum
Vitale da Bologna, Madonna of the teeth, Bologna, Davia Bargellini Museum

The arrival in Bologna of Raffaello´s S. Cecilia in S. Giovanni in Monte (1514, now in the Pinacoteca) paved the way for the great season of Raffaello´s influence in the Po Valley, magisterially interpreted by the Modena sculptor Begarelli, opening the way for Bolognese classicism that would later find its way to Rome with Bologna´s Annibale Carracci. Annibale, Agostino and Ludovico Carracci tried to imitate the mannerist grace of Parmigianino, as in the frescoes of Fontanellato (1523) and his masterpieces in the National Gallery of Parma (The Turkish slave, Self-portrait), as well as the brilliance of Correggio, who, in the Camera di S. Paolo in Parma (1518), translated Raffaellesque suggestions into erotic seduction before embarking on the long adventure of baroque ceilings in the cupola of the cathedral. The Carracci frescoes in Bologna in the Fava (1584) and Magnani (1590) palaces and the decorations in the Palazzo del Giardino (1601, the work of Agostino who was Giovanni Lanfranco´s teacher in Parma), are the precursors of the great altar-pieces in the Pinacoteca in Bologna, guiding lights of Bolognese painting of the 1600s: Domenichino, Albani, Guido Reni and finally Guercino, represented with a series of paintings in the municipal gallery of Cento. We must take a trip to Rimini and Forlì to admire the works of Guido Cagnacci, one of the most sensual and refined painters from Romagna in the 1600s, while the sanctuary of the Ghiara in Reggio Emilia provides a good selection of the development Emilian figurative art in the 17th century: Ludovico Carracci, Guercino, Luca Ferrari and Alessandro Tiarini.

Gian Lorenzo Bernini Bust of Francesco I d’Este Modena, Estense Gallery
Gian Lorenzo Bernini, bust of Francesco I d’Este Modena, Estense Gallery

Other illustrious artists present, in the field of baroque sculpture, were the Tuscan Mochi (Piacenza, Piazza Cavalli, Farnese statues, 1625), Algardi (Bologna, S. Paolo 1644), Bernini (bust of Francesco, Estense Gallery, 1650), while architects built spectacular examples of emphatic theatricality which constitutes the most important aspect of Emilian architecture, for instance, the

Antonio Canova Hebe Forlì, Municipal Gallery
Antonio Canova, Hebe, Forlì, Municipal Gallery
Farnese Theatre, the work of Aleotti and the ducal palaces of Modena and Sassuolo, with their grandiose façades by Mitelli and Colonna, authoritative promoters of that style peculiar to our region that swept through all of Europe, carried by the many artists followers of the Bibiena family, themselves scenographers and theatre architects. Worthy of mention are also Ferdinando, architect of the ducal palace of Colorno, Gian Giacomo Monti, Paolo Canali, Alfonso Torreggiani and Carlo Francesco Dotti, famous for the arcades and sanctuary of S. Luca.

Painting in the 1700s included the surprising ceilings frescoed by Giuseppe Maria Crespi in the Pepoli Campogrande palace, where the presence of an unusual popular vein contradicted the local classical ideal, opposite to the lightness of Donato Creti, the "Bolognese Watteau", who did

Gaetano Previati Christ’s body purloined, 1900 Municipal Gallery of Modern and Contenporaneous Art, Ferrara
Gaetano Previati, Stealing the Lord's Body, around 1900, Ferrara, City Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art
a series on the Story of Achilles now at the Communal Collection of Art in the Accursio palace. French Parma, as exemplified in the urbanistic plans of Petitot, the sculptures of Boudard and the portraits of Baldrighi, was bathed in a Parisian atmosphere very different from that of Jacobin Faenza, represented in the myths and arcane fables of Milzetti palace (Felice Giani, 1805) at a time when Enlightenment rationalism and incipient eclecticism had already inspired a whole generation of reformed architects of Romagna.

The sculptural group at the Certosa in Bologna and Canova´s Ebe in Forlì (Pinacoteca Civica)

Donato Creti Allegorical Figure Bologna, Municipal Art Collection
Donato Creti, Allegorical figure, Bologna, Municipal Art Collection
introduced the taste for neoclassicism and the passion for antiquity to which Palagi was greatly indebted. The decorative arts also offer refined examples in the region: the antiques and furniture in the Glauco Lombardi Museum and the Magnani Foundation; the furnished rooms in Milzetti palace and the 19th-century apartment in Tozzoni palace. One name for all: Giorgio Morandi, the "painter of bottles" as he has been simplistically defined, the artist of light, through which he regenerated objects from nothing, making them observers.
Filippo De Pisis
Filippo De Pisis, Vase of flowers, 1937, Piacenza, Ricci Oddi Gallery
He lives on in the heart of his native city, Bologna, through the over 250 paintings exhibited in the Morandi Museum in Palazzo d´Accursio. This is the starting point for contemporary art in Emilia-Romagna, which branches out into a thousand collections and exhibitions, among numerous galleries and public and private museums, art academies, shows such as Arte Fiera and experimental centres.

The MAMbo - Museum of Modern Art of Bologna periodically holds exhibitions in its new premises, “ex Forno del Pane”, a former Bakery, opened in May 2007 and at Villa delle Rose, dedicating an "open space" to young emerging talents. The permanent collection includes works ranging in time from the Roman Secession to the Francesco Francia painters society of the 1920s and the artists in the following decade gravitating around the review "l´Orto". The most important currents from the post-war period to the present day are also represented. Internationally important exhibitions of the masterpieces of Monet, Chagall and Gauguin, to name but a few, are shown in the Palazzo dei Diamanti in Ferrara, a part of the municipal Galleries of Modern Art. Palazzo Massari, the other section of the

Antonio Fontanesi Poplars, 1868-70 Piacenza, Ricci Oddi Gallery
Antonio Fontanesi Poplars, 1868-70 Piacenza, Ricci Oddi Gallery
Galleries, houses the Boldini Museum with works from the 19th and 20th centuries, from the Ferrara "divisionisti" to the rooms dedicated to Roberto Melli and Filippo De Pisis, as well as two exhibition areas reserved for modern and contemporaneous art.

Futurists such as Enrico Prampolini, the Roman school up to the realists (Renato Guttuso) and the abstractionists (Afro, Giuseppe Capogrossi, Renato Birolli) are shown in the Modern Art Gallery of Forlì, while in Modena the Municipal Gallery, born in 1958 as the Hall of Culture, holds exhibits of contemporary art: the most recent have been dedicated to monographic documentation of artists such as Lucio Fontana, Luigi Veronesi and Enzo Cucchi; among its most important acquisitions are the over one Gilbert & George, Sleeping, 1991, Bologna, permanent collection, Moderna Art Gallerythousand works of photographer Franco Fontana and the collection of contemporaneous design. Many other collections of modern and contemporaneous art are available in the region: among the private galleries it will be enough to mention the Ricci Oddi Gallery of Modern Art in Piacenza, with paintings of the 1900s including La Madre by Boccioni.

The important Magnani Rocca Foundation at Mamiano di Traversetolo in the province of Parma exhibits among others works of Durer, Tiziano, Rubens, Goya, but also Monet, Renoir, Cézanne down to De Pisis, Morandi and Burri among the moderns, besides sculptures of Canova and Lorenzo Bartolini. And finally, in Romagna there is the Tito Balestra Foundation in Longiano, with numerous works of Mino Maccari, and the Vero Stoppioni Pinacoteca in Santa Sofia, which, besides carrying on the tradition of the Campigna Prize, conserves many works of Mattia Moreni.

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Pubblicato il 28/10/2011 — ultima modifica 30/07/2014
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