Michelangelo in Carrara between past and present: Carmi celebrates the artist

CARRARA – «Memorial of Michelangelo: are you for it or against it?»: You can answer calmly, but not before viewing the exhibition that opens today at Carmi, the Villa Fabbricotti Museum, entitled “1972. Michelucci Moore and Michelangelo. The Vitality of Marble”, open from April 30th to September 15th.

An interdisciplinary exhibition, described by Emanuela Ferretti, curator of the exhibition, together with the director of the Carmi, the professor and lecturer at the Academy of Fine Arts Marco Ciampolini, where precious paintings are usually not very accessible because they belong to private collections based on going back The period from 1500 to 1800 and the presentation of life and creative moments of the Renaissance master are accompanied by instructional videos, true-to-scale reconstructions of parts of architectural works of historical buildings and the reconstruction with testimonies collected at various institutes foundations of the project monument to Honor of Michelangelo designed between 1972 and 1975 by one of the greatest Italian architects of the last century, Giovanni Michelucci.
In 1972, entering the season of the referendums that would later make history in the field of civil rights struggles, national newspapers, echoing the now-famous headline question, asked readers what they thought of the monument dedicated to Michelangelo. In Carrara, but with international echo, the Memorial case in honor of Michelangelo erupted, with a first conference, held in 1972 and preceding the last one in 1975, of international scope and on the project of the famous architect Giovanni Michelucci , supported by the British Sculptor Henry Moore.

A colossus, a reclining giant that goes from sculpture to architecture, becomes a roof visible from the sea and said to be around 30 meters wide (it is said) to house and house a training center for young sculptors . Next to it an amphitheater and next to it a solar observatory. All in the heart of the Apuan Alps. In a combination of art and science that anticipated the times, the project never saw the light and was limited to more than 160 drawings and lithographs by the renowned architect and to a model borrowed from the Michelucci Foundation in Fiesole and presented during the international Conference was exhibited from 1975 and nowhere else since, except at the Michelucci Foundation. Not even Moore, a master in the search for harmony between work and landscape, as explained by Arianna Bechini of the Scientific Planning Committee, ended up realizing the promised work, intended to be inspired by universal brotherhood.

To celebrate and promote the project, conceived with community and peace in mind, as repeated many times by the curators of the exhibition, two conferences were then held in three years: in 1975 the second and always in Carrara in addition to the Greeting Giovanni Spadolini, celebrating the meeting of the American crew with the Russian in space. In fact, during a space voyage in 1975, the Apollo (American) and Soyuz (Russian) spacecraft docked in orbit and crew members were able to move from one capsule to another. The guests at the Carrara conference were therefore an American and a Russian astronaut dedicated to the arts and sciences bound together by brotherhood and peace. On the same occasion, the monolith, which is still there, more than 2 meters high, which was to represent the first stone of Michelucci’s project, was placed in the Foce di Pienza to promote the realization of the project.

“A few years earlier, in 1961, another important project was also born – recalled Professor Marino Alberto Balducci, Professor of the Carla Rossi Academy and member of the Scientific Committee – Dalì, Picasso, Manzù and other artists suggested going to Carrara to come and sculpt, engrave the mountains for 150 linear meters, work visible from the sea. This project also died ».
The paintings from private collections were housed on the upper floor of the building: “They are difficult works to use – affirmed Ciampolini, who accompanied the small delegation of journalists – because they belong to private collections, like this ‘Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel’ by Alberto Masi Gilli . Here Michelangelo is represented as he imagined himself around 1800: in the Sistine Chapel, drawing with a plaster model, a late-Romantic image with soft light that is the great attraction of this painting ». In the next room we find a 1:1 reproduction of the cornice of the Palazzo Farnese accompanied by a painting by Peter Rittig from 1834 “Pope Paul III. Farnese visits Michelangelo in his studio”.

“It is a painting that speaks to us of Michelangelo, who designed the Paul III Sistine Chapel. Farnese with this blonde light that gives off a sentimental image,” commented Ciampolini. Another work of refined beauty “Michelangelo discovers the statue of David for the public” by Enrico Pollastrini, an artist very attached to the Academy of Fine Arts of Carrara and Michelangelo. In the next room a series of works dedicated to Michelangelo in his relationship with the quarries, including some portraits of the Renaissance artist, such as the portrait painted by Stefano Ussi in the 19th century and the portrait by the hand of the painter Domenico Pugliani. “Vittoria Colonna Visits Michelangelo’s Studio” dates from 1850 and was painted by the painter Filippo Bigioli from Marche. “This painting by Bernardino Mei, ‘Charity’, is unpublished,” explains the museum’s director, who also points to the terracotta “Michelangelo models Mosè” that is part of the museum’s heritage. One of the plaster casts belonging to the Academy could not be missing: the plaster cast of a marble relief from the Severan period (203-2012) known as the “Fantiscritti”, kept in the courtyard of the Academy. The shrine was carved into one of the walls of the Fantiscritti quarry and shows Zeus between two of his sons, Hercules and Bacchus. The icing on the cake: Antonio Puccinelli’s “Michelangelo alle cave” from 1864 becomes part of the Carmi legacy: Professor Ciampolini himself announces it at the conference: “It was the image that was also included in the advertising sign of the memorial – explains Ciampolini, wer Comments —They are works of great quality and difficult to find because they are largely private“.

Emanuela Ferretti also emphasizes: “It is an exhibition born from a research competition that has reached a synthesis that has emerged after a thorough analysis”. In fact, the following have been brought together in synergy:
Carla Rossi Academy, CRA-INITS
Academy of Drawing Arts, Florence
Giovanni Michelucci Foundation, Fiesole
II Bisonte Foundation Florence
Carrara Academy of Fine Arts
Faculty of Architecture – University of Florence
next to the municipalities of Carrara, Pistoia, Fiesole, the province of Massa-Carrara and the region of Tuscany.

The Mayor Francesco De Pasquale, who brought the greetings of Councilor for Culture Federica Forti, who was unable to intervene for health reasons related to the Covid, recalled: “Carmi, born in 2018, has become a cultural reference: ‘It is true that it is the received recognition as a museum of national importance. It is an exhibition of national interest where Carrara is the protagonist and is a beginning of the collaboration. I hope that this perspective and approach will be continued by the next administration.”

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