It also gained popularity in central Italy, where the art of the Etruscans was greatly refined by the contribution of Greek artisans, who arrived to trade. In Rome, sculpture, architecture and painting flourished first under the Republic and then the empire. But the art that was produced here during this period differed in key ways from the Greek art that influenced it.
Essentially secular, it focused less on ideals of aesthetic harmony and more on accurate representation, taking sculptural portraiture to new heights of verisimilitude, as innumerable versions of Pompey, Titus and Augustus showing a similar visage attest. The Roman ruling class understood art could be used as a political tool, one that could construct a unified identity and cement status and power. As well as portraiture, Roman narrative art often took the form of relief decoration recounting the story of great military victories — the Colonna di Traiano Trajan's Column and the Ara Pacis Augustae Altar of Peace in Rome exemplify this tradition.
Both are magnificent, monumental examples of art as propaganda, exalting the emperor and Rome in a form that no Roman citizen could possibly ignore. Wealthy Roman citizens also dabbled in the arts, building palatial villas and adorning them with statues looted from the Greek world or copied from Hellenic originals. And while the Etruscans had used wall painting — most notably in their tombs at centres like Tarquinia and Cerveteri in modern-day Lazio, it was the Romans who refined the form, refocusing on landscape scenes to adorn the walls of the living.
Emperor Constantine, a convert to Christianity, made the ancient city of Byzantium his capital in and renamed it Constantinople. The city became the great cultural and artistic centre of early Christianity and it remained so up to the time of the Renaissance, though its influence was not as fundamental as the art of ancient Rome. The Byzantine period was notable for its sublime ecclesiastical architecture, its extraordinary mosaic work and — to a lesser extent — its ethereal painting.
Drawing inspiration from the symbol-drenched decoration of the Roman catacombs and the early Christian churches, the Byzantine de-emphasised the naturalistic aspects of the classical tradition and exalted the spirit over the body, glorifying God rather than humanity or the state. This was infused with the Near East's decorative traditions and love of luminous colour. In Italy, the Byzantine virtuosity with mosaics was showcased in Ravenna, the capital of the Byzantine Empire's western regions in the 6th century. The Basilica di Sant'Apollinare in nearby Classe and the Basilica di San Vitale and Basilica di Sant'Apollinare Nuovo house some of the world's finest Byzantine art, their hand-cut glazed tiles tesserae balancing extraordinary naturalness with an epic sense of grandeur and mystery.
Italy, and Italian art, were born out of the so-called Dark Ages. The barbarian invasions of the 5th and 6th centuries began a process that turned a unified empire into a land of small independent city-states, and it was these states — or rather the merchants, princes, clergy, corporations and guilds who lived within them — that created a culture of artistic patronage that engendered the great innovations in art and architecture that would define the Renaissance.
Clarity of religious message continued to outweigh the notion of faithful representation in the art of the medieval period. To the modern eye, the simplicity and coded allegorical narrative of both the painting and sculpture of this period can look stiff, though a closer look usually reveals a sublimity and grace, as well as a shared human experience, that speaks across the centuries. The Gothic style was much slower to take off in Italy than in the rest of Europe.
But it did, marking the transition from medieval restraint to the Renaissance, and seeing artists once again drawing inspiration from life itself rather than concentrating solely on religious themes. Occurring at the same time as the development of court society and the rise of civic culture in the city-states, its art was both sophisticated and elegant, highlighting attention to detail, a luminous palette and an increasingly refined technique.
The first innovations were made in Pisa by sculptor Nicola Pisano c —84 , who emulated the example of the French Gothic masters and studied classical sculpture in order to represent nature more convincingly, but the major strides forward occurred in Florence and Siena. The Byzantine painters in Italy knew how to make use of light and shade and had an understanding of the principles of foreshortening how to convey an effect of perspective. It only required a genius to break the spell of their conservatism and to venture into a new world of naturalism.
Enter Florentine painter Giotto di Bondone c — , whose brushstrokes focused on dramatic narrative and the accurate representation of figures and landscape. The Italian poet Giovanni Boccaccio wrote in his Decameron —53 that Giotto was 'a genius so sublime that there was nothing produced by nature…that he could not depict to the life; his depiction looked not like a copy, but the real thing.
Giotto's most famous works are all in the medium of the fresco where paint is applied on a wall while the plaster is still damp , and his supreme achievement is the cycle gracing the walls of Padua's Cappella degli Scrovegni. It's impossible to overestimate Giotto's achievement with these frescoes, which illustrate the stories of the lives of the Virgin and Christ.
Abandoning popular conventions such as the three-quarter view of head and body, he presented his figures from behind, from the side or turning around, just as the story demanded. Giotto had no need for lashings of gold paint and elaborate ornamentation either, opting to convey the scene's dramatic tension through a naturalistic rendition of figures and a radical composition that created the illusion of depth. Giotto's oeuvre isn't limited to the frescoes in the Cappella degli Scrovegni.
His Life of St Francis cycle in the Upper Church of the Basilica di San Francesco in Assisi is almost as extraordinary and was to greatly influence his peers, many of whom worked in Assisi during the decoration of the church. One of the most prominent of these was the Dominican friar Fra' Angelico c — , a Florentine painter who was famed for his mastery of colour and light.
His Annunciation c in the convent of the Museo di San Marco in Florence is arguably his most accomplished work. Sex, fame and notoriety: the life of Artemesia Gentileschi — could spawn a top-rating soap opera. One of the early baroque's greatest artists, and one of the few females, Gentileschi was born in Rome to Tuscan painter Orazio Gentileschi.
Orazio wasted little time introducing his young daughter to the city's working artists. Among her mentors was Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, whose chiaroscuro technique would deeply influence her own style. Her depiction of the sexually harassed Susanna proved eerily foreboding: two years later Artemesia would find herself at the centre of a seven-month trial, in which Florentine artist Agostino Tassi was charged with her rape.
Out of Gentileschi's fury came the gripping, technically brilliant Judith Slaying Holofernes — While the original hangs in Naples' Museo di Capodimonte, you'll find a larger, later version in Florence's Uffizi. Vengeful Judith would make a further appearance in Judith and her Maidservant c —14 , now in Florence's Palazzo Pitti. While living in Florence, Gentileschi completed a string of commissions for Cosimo II of the Medici dynasty, as well as becoming the first female member of the prestigious Accademia delle Arti del Disegno Academy of the Arts of Drawing.
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After separating from her husband, Tuscan painter Pietro Antonio di Vincenzo Stiattesi, Gentileschi headed south to Naples sometime between and The latter work received praise for its simultaneous depiction of art, artist and muse, an innovation at the time. Gentileschi's way with the brush was not lost on King Charles I of England, who honoured the Italian talent with a court residency from to Despite her illustrious career, Gentileschi inhabited a man's world. Nothing would prove this more than the surviving epitaphs commemorating her death, focused not on her creative brilliance, but on the gossip depicting her as a cheating nymphomaniac.
Painter, architect and writer Giorgio Vasari —74 was one of those figures rightly described as a 'Renaissance Man'. Born in Arezzo, he trained as a painter in Florence, working with artists including Andrea del Sarto and Michelangelo he idolised the latter. As a painter, he is best remembered for his floor-to-ceiling frescoes in the Salone dei Cinquecento in Florence's Palazzo Vecchio. As an architect, his most accomplished work was the elegant loggia of the Uffizi he also designed the enclosed, elevated corridor that connected the Palazzo Vecchio with the Uffizi and Palazzo Pitti and was dubbed the 'Corridoio Vasariano' in his honour.
But posterity remembers him predominantly for his work as an art historian. It's full of wonderful anecdotes and — dare we say it — gossip about his artistic contemporaries in 16th-century Florence. Memorable passages include his recollection of visiting Donatello's studio one day only to find the great sculptor staring at his extremely lifelike statue of the Prophet Habakkuk and imploring it to talk we can only assume that Donatello had been working too hard.
Vasari also writes about a young Giotto the painter whom he credits with ushering in the Renaissance painting a fly on the surface of a work by Cimabue that the older master then tried to brush away. The book makes wonderful pre-departure reading for anyone planning to visit Florence and its museums. Giotto wasn't the only painter of his time to experiment with form, colour and composition and create a radical new style. The great Sienese master Duccio di Buoninsegna c — successfully breathed new life into the old Byzantine forms using light and shade.
It was in Siena, too, that two new trends took off: the introduction of court painters and the advent of purely secular art. The first of many painters to be given ongoing commissions by one major patron or court, Simone Martini c — was almost as famous as Giotto in his day. Also working in Siena at this time were the Lorenzetti brothers, Pietro c — and Ambrogio c — , who are considered the greatest exponents of what, for lack of a better term, can be referred to as secular painting. Ambrogio's magnificent Allegories of Good and Bad Government —40 in the Museo Civico lauds the fruits of good government and the gruesome results of bad.
In the frescoes, he applies the rules of perspective with an accuracy previously unseen, as well as significantly developing the Italian landscape tradition. In Life in the Country, one of the allegories, Ambrogio successfully depicts the time of day, the season, colour reflections and shadows — a naturalistic depiction of landscape that was quite unique at this time. While Byzantine influence lingered longer in Venice than in many other parts of Italy, its grip on the city loosened by the early to midth century.
In Polyptych of St James c by Michele Giambono c —62 in Venice's Gallerie dell'Accademia, the luscious locks and fair complexion of the archangel Michael channel the style of early Renaissance master Pisanello c — The winds of change blow even stronger in fellow Accademia resident Madonna with Child c by Jacopo Bellini c — Featuring a bright-eyed baby Jesus and a patient, seemingly sleep-deprived Mary, it's an image any parent might relate to. Relatable emotions are equally strong in the biblical scenes of Andrea Mantegna — ; one can almost hear the sobbing in his Lamentation over the Dead Christ c in Milan's Pinacoteca di Brera.
Tuscan painter Gentile da Fabriano c — worked in Venice during the early stages of his transition to Renaissance realism, and his evolving style reputedly influenced Venetian Antonio Vivarini c —80 , the latter's Passion polyptych radiating tremendous pathos. Antonio's brother, Bartolomeo Vivarini c —99 created a delightful altarpiece in Venice's I Frari, in which a baby Jesus wriggles out of the arms of his mother, squarely seated on her marble Renaissance throne.
In , visiting Sicilian painter Antonello da Messina c —79 introduced the Venetians to oil paints, and their knack for layering and blending colours made for a luminosity that would ultimately define the city's art. Among early ground-breakers was Giovanni Bellini c — The son of Jacopo Bellini, his Accademia Annunciation deployed glowing reds and ambers to focus attention on the solitary figure of the kneeling Madonna, the angel Gabriel arriving in a rush of geometrically rumpled drapery.
Bellini's prowess with the palette was not lost on his students, among them Giorgione — and Titian c — Giorgione preferred to paint from inspiration without sketching out his subject first, as in his enigmatic La Tempesta The Storm; , also in the Accademia. Titian raised the bar for a new generation of northern Italian masters, including Jacopo Robusti, aka Tintoretto — Occasionally enhancing his palette with finely crushed glass, Tintoretto created action-packed biblical scenes that read like a modern graphic novel.
His wall and ceiling paintings in Venice's Scuola Grande di San Rocco are nail-bitingly spectacular, laced with holy superheroes, swooping angels, and deep, ominous shadows. Paolo Caliari, aka Veronese —88 was another 16th-century star, the remarkable radiance of his hues captured in Feast in the House of Levi , another Accademia must-see. The depiction of full-frontal nudity on the chapel's altar horrified Catholic Counter-Reformation critics. No doubt Michelangelo turned in his grave when the offending bits were covered up. Madonna and Child with St Anne —06 , Caravaggio St Anne looks more 'beggar-woman' than 'beatified grandmother', but it's Mary who made the faithful blush on Caravaggio's canvas, her propped-up cleavage a little too 'flesh-and-bone' for the mother of God.
The sexed-up scene was too much for the artist's client, who offered a ' Grazie, but no grazie '. The painting now hangs in Rome's Museo e Galleria Borghese. St Matthew and the Angel , Caravaggio In the original version, personal space or the sheer lack of it was the main problem for Caravaggio's client Cardinal del Monte. It features a sensual, handsome angel snuggling up to St Matthew — exactly what kind of inspiration the winged visitor was offering the saint was anybody's guess. And so Caravaggio went back to his easel, producing the prime-time version now gracing the Chiesa di San Luigi dei Francesi in Rome.
Given her well-known infidelities, this marble depiction of Napoleon's wayward sister as the Roman goddess of love merely confirmed her salacious reputation. This fact was not lost on her husband, Italian prince Camillo Borghese, who forbade the sculpture from leaving their home. You'll find it at the Museo e Galleria Borghese. By , artists such as Michelangelo and Raphael had pretty well achieved everything that former generations had tried to do and, alongside other artists, began distorting natural images in favour of heightened expression.
This movement — which reached its heights in Titian's luminous Assunta Assumption, —18 , in Venice's I Frari, and in Raphael's La trasfigurazione Transfiguration, —20 , in the Vatican Museums' Pinacoteca — was derided by later critics, who labelled it mannerism. Pejorative as the term once was, the stylish artificiality of Agnolo Bronzino's Florentine court portraits has an almost 21st-century seductiveness. Milanese-born enfant terrible Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio — had no sentimental attachment to classical models and no respect for 'ideal beauty'.
He shocked contemporaries in his relentless search for truth and his radical, often visceral, realism. But even his most ardent detractors could not fail to admire his skill with the technique of chiaroscuro the bold contrast of light and dark and his employment of tenebrism, where dramatic chiaroscuro becomes a dominant and highly effective stylistic device. This creative intensity was reflected in the artist's life. Described by the writer Stendhal as a 'great painter [and] a wicked man', Caravaggio fled to Naples in after killing a man in a street fight in Rome.
Although his sojourn in Naples lasted only a year, it had an electrifying effect on the city's younger artists. Along with the Greek artist Belisiano Crenzio and Naples-born painter Giovanni Battista Caracciolo known as Battistello , Ribera formed a cabal to stamp out any potential competition. Merciless in the extreme, they shied from nothing in order to get their way. Ribera reputedly won a commission for the Cappella del Tesoro in the Duomo by poisoning his rival Domenichino — and wounding the assistant of a second competitor, Guido Reni — Much to the relief of other nerve-racked artists, the cabal eventually broke up when Caracciolo died in North of Rome, Annibale Caracci — was the major artist of the baroque Bolognese school.
In works such as his magnificent frescoes of mythological subjects in Rome's Palazzo Farnese, he employed innovative illusionistic elements that would prove inspirational to later baroque painters such as Cortona, Pozzo and Gaulli. However, Caracci never let the illusionism and energy of his works dominate the subject matter, as these later painters did. Inspired by Michelangelo and Raphael, he continued the Renaissance penchant for idealising and 'beautifying' nature.
Arguably the best known of all baroque artists was the sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini — , who used works of religious art such as his Ecstasy of St Theresa in Rome's Chiesa di Santa Maria della Vittoria to arouse feelings of exaltation and mystic transport. In this and many other works he achieved an extraordinary intensity of facial expression and a totally radical handling of draperies. Instead of letting these fall in dignified folds in the approved classical manner, he made them writhe and whirl to intensify the effect of excitement and energy.
While creative boundary pushing was obviously at play, the baroque was also driven by the Counter-Reformation, with much of the work commissioned in an attempt to keep hearts and minds from the clutches of the Protestant church. Baroque artists were early adopters of the sex sells mantra, depicting Catholic spirituality, rather ironically, through worldly joy, exuberant decoration and uninhibited sensuality. Giotto di Bondone c — Said to have ushered in the Renaissance; two masterworks: the Cappella degli Scrovegni —06 in Padua and the upper church —11 in Assisi.
Donatello c — Florentine born and bred; his David c —50 in the collection of the Museo del Bargello in Florence was the first free-standing nude sculpture produced since the classical era. Fra' Angelico — Made a saint in ; his best-loved work is the Annunciation c in the convent of the Museo di San Marco in Florence. Sandro Botticelli c — Primavera c and The Birth of Venus c are among the best-loved of all Italian paintings; both in the Uffizi. Annibale Caracci — Bologna-born and best known for his baroque frescoes in Rome's Palazzo Farnese. Discontent at years of foreign rule — first under Napoleon and then under the Austrians — may have been good for political and philosophical thinkers, but there was little innovation in art.
The most notable product of this time was, ironically, the painting and engraving of views, most notably in Venice, to meet the demand of European travellers wanting Grand Tour souvenirs. The best-known painters of this school are Francesco Guardi —93 and Giovanni Antonio Canaletto — Despite all the talk of unity, the 19th-century Italian cities remained as they had been for centuries — highly individual centres of culture with sharply contrasting ways of life.
Music was the supreme art of this period and the overwhelming theme in the visual arts was one of chaste refinement. The major artistic movement of the day was neoclassicism and its greatest Italian exponent was the sculptor Antonio Canova — Canova renounced movement in favour of stillness, emotion in favour of restraint and illusion in favour of simplicity.
Canova was the last Italian artist to win overwhelming international fame. Italian architecture, sculpture and painting had played a dominant role in the cultural life of Europe for some years, but with Canova's death in , this supremacy came to an end. Italy entered the turbulent days of the early 20th century still in the throes of constructing a cohesive national identity. Futurists demanded a new art for a new world and denounced every attachment to the art of the past. Marinetti's Manifesto del futurismo Futurist Manifesto, was reinforced by the publication of a futurist painting manifesto by Boccioni, Giacomo Balla — , Luigi Russolo — and Gino Severini — The manifesto declared that 'Everything is in movement, everything rushes forward, everything is in constant swift change.
Paralleling futurism's bullying bluster, the metaphysical movement of Giorgio de Chirico — produced paintings notable for their stillness and sense of foreboding. Like futurism, the movement was short lived, but held powerful attraction for the French surrealist movement in the s. As Italy's north flourished in the s, so did the local art scene. Artists such as Alberto Burri —95 and the Argentine-Italian Lucio Fontana — experimented with abstraction.
Fontana's punctured canvases were characterised by spazialismo spatialism and he also experimented with 'slash paintings', perforating his canvases with actual holes or slashes and dubbing them 'art for the space age'. Burri's assemblages were made of burlap, wood, iron and plastic and were avowedly anti-traditional. Grande sacco Large Sack of , housed in Rome's Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, caused a major controversy when it was first exhibited.
Piero Manzoni —63 created highly ironic work that questioned the nature of the art object itself, such as his canned Artist's Shit , directly prefiguring conceptual art and earning him posthumous membership of the radical new movement of the s, Arte Povera Poor Art. Often using simple, everyday materials in installation or performance work, artists such as Mario Merz — , Michelangelo Pistoletto b , Giovanni Anselmo b , Luciano Fabro — , Giulio Paolini b and Greek-born Jannis Kounellis b sought to make the art experience more 'real', and to attack institutional power.
The s saw a return to painting and sculpture in a traditional primarily figurative sense. Dubbed 'Transavanguardia', this movement broke with the prevailing international focus on conceptual art and was thought by some critics to signal the death of avant-garde. While global interest in contemporary art and the art market has shown exponential growth over the last two decades, Italian art-world insiders bemoan the country's art scene, citing a dearth of institutional support, no real market to speak of and a backward-gazing population.
They are joined in Milan by a growing number of fondazione — private foundation collections, from the new Fondazione Feltrinelli to the sprawling Fondazione Prada and its recently opened city photography gallery and the edgy Hangar Bicocca, along with the magnificent Palazzo Grassi in Venice, and the broadly roaming Museo Ettore Fico and small but astutely curated Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, both in Turin.
Gagosian has set up a Roman gallery and Milan's dealers continue to flourish.
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Naples and Turin also have a small but significant number of contemporary galleries. Due to the influence of superstar Italian curators such as Francesco Bonami and Massimiliano Gioni, Italian contemporary artists are often celebrated as much, if not more, on the international stage as at home. Its major artists were Telemaco Signorini — and Giovanni Fattori — Italy has more World Heritage—listed sites than any other country in the world; many of its 51 listings are repositories of great art.
In M: The Man Who Became Caravaggio, Peter Robb gives a passionate personal assessment of the artist's paintings and a colourful account of Caravaggio's life, arguing he was murdered for having sex with the pageboy of a high-ranking Maltese aristocrat. Many Renaissance painters included self-portraits in their major works. Giotto didn't, possibly due to the fact that friends such as Giovanni Boccaccio described him as the ugliest man in Florence. With friends like those…. Exibart www. Italy's major contemporary-art event is the La Biennale di Venezia, held every odd-numbered year.
It's the most important and most mythologised survey show on the international art circuit, welcoming over , visitors. Andrea Palladio did more than produce great architecture, he wrote about it too. His treatise I quattro libri dell'architettura The Four Books On Architecture, provides a set of rules and principles based on the buildings of Roman antiquity. It remains a sacred text in the architectural canon. Michelangelo's David is no stranger to close calls.
In , the lower part of his arm was broken off in a riot. In , a hydrochloric 'spruce-up' stripped away some of the original surface, while in a disturbed, hammer-wielding Italian painter smashed the statue's second left toe. Italy's dedicated art police, the Comando Carabinieri Tutela Patrimonio Culturale, tackle the looting of priceless heritage. It's estimated that over , ancient tombs have been ransacked by tombaroli tomb raiders alone; contents are sold to private and public collectors around the world.
From ancient Virgil to modern-day Eco, Italy's literary canon is awash with world-renowned scribes. The nation's film stock is equally robust, packed with visionary directors, iconic stars and that trademark Italian pathos. Italy's acclaimed contemporary dramas combine the truthfulness of classic neorealism, the taut suspense of Italian thrillers and the psychological revelations of Fellini. Paolo Sorrentino's Il divo explores the life of former prime minister Giulio Andreotti, from his migraines to his alleged mafia ties.
The entanglement of organised crime and Rome's political class is at the heart of Stefano Sollima's neo-noir Suburra , while mafiosi also appear in the deeply poignant Cesare deve morire Caesar Must Die; Directed by octogenarian brothers Paolo and Vittorio Tavianian, this award-winning documentary tells the story of maximum-security prisoners preparing to stage Shakespeare's Julius Caesar.
Italy's political and social ills drive Gabriele Mainetti's acclaimed film Lo chiamavano Jeeg Robot They Call Me Jeeg; , which gives Hollywood's superhero genre a gritty local twist. Italy's cities, hills and coastlines set the scene for countless celluloid classics.
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Fellini's love affair with the Eternal City culminated in his silver-screen tribute, Roma In Vittorio De Sica's Academy-awarded Ladri di biciclette The Bicycle Thieves; , a doomed father attempts to provide for his son without resorting to crime in war-ravaged Rome, while Pier Paolo Pasolini's Mamma Roma revolves around an ageing prostitute trying to make an honest living for herself and her deadbeat son.
More recently, Gianfranco Rosi's Oscar-nominated documentary Fuocoammare Fire at Sea; has drawn comparisons to the neorealist movement in its confronting, moving exploration of the European refugee crisis as played out on the island of Lampedusa. It's only natural that a nation of hopeless romantics should provide some of the world's most tender celluloid moments.
In Michael Radford's Il postino The Postman; , exiled poet Pablo Neruda brings poetry and passion to a drowsy Italian isle and a misfit postman, played with heartbreaking subtlety by the late Massimo Troisi. Another classic is Giuseppe Tornatore's Oscar-winning Nuovo cinema paradiso Cinema Paradiso; , a bittersweet tale about a director who returns to Sicily and rediscovers his true loves: the girl next door and the movies. In Silvio Sordini's Pane e tulipani Bread and Tulips; , a housewife left behind at a tour-bus pit stop runs away to Venice, where she befriends an anarchist florist, an eccentric masseuse and a suicidal Icelandic waiter — and gets pursued by an amateur detective.
Sunny Italy's darkest dramas deliver more style, suspense and falling bodies than Prada platform heels on a slippery Milan runway. In Michelangelo Antonioni's Blow-Up a swinging-'60s fashion photographer spies dark deeds unfolding in a photo of an elusive Vanessa Redgrave. Gruesome deeds unfold at a ballet school in Dario Argento's Suspiria , while in Mario Monicelli's Un borghese piccolo piccolo An Average Little Man; , an ordinary man goes to extraordinary lengths for revenge.
The latter stars Roman acting great Alberto Soldi in a standout example of a comedian nailing a serious role. Emerging in the mids, Italian-style Westerns had no shortage of high-noon showdowns featuring flinty characters and Ennio Morricone's terminally catchy whistled tunes doodle-oodle-ooh, wah wah wah …. Top of the directorial heap was Sergio Leone, whose Western debut Per un pugno di dollari A Fistful of Dollars; helped launch a young Clint Eastwood's movie career. Italy's best comedians pinpoint the exact spot where pathos intersects with the funny bone.
A group of ageing pranksters turn on one another in Mario Monicelli's Amici miei My Friends; , a satire reflecting Italy's own postwar midlife crisis. Midlife crisis also underscores Paolo Sorrentino's Oscar-winning La grande bellezza The Great Beauty; , a Fellini-style tale that evolves around Jep Gambardella, an ageing, hedonistic bachelor haunted by lost love and memories of the past. Contemporary woes feed Massimiliano Bruno's biting Viva l'Italia , its cast of corrupt politicians and nepotists cutting close to the nation's bone.
Italy is slapped equally hard by Matteo Garrone's Reality Winner of the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival, the darkly comic film revolves around a Neapolitan fishmonger desperately seeking fame through reality TV. The foibles of modern Italian life are also pulled into sharp focus in Paolo Genovese's Perfetti sconosciuti Perfect Strangers; , an award-winning comedy-drama in which three couples and a bachelor disclose each other's private text messages and phone calls in an attempt to prove they have nothing to hide.
The most universally beloved Italian fabulist is Italo Calvino, whose titular character in Il barone rampante The Baron in the Trees; takes to the treetops in a seemingly capricious act of rebellion that makes others rethink their own earthbound conventions. In Dino Buzzati's Il deserto dei Tartari The Tartar Steppe; , an ambitious officer posted to a mythical Italian border is besieged by boredom, thwarted expectations and disappearing youth while waiting for enemy hordes to materialise — a parable drawn from Buzzati's own dead-end newspaper job.
Over the centuries, Niccolo Machiavelli's Il principe The Prince; has been referenced as a handy manual for budding autocrats, but also as a cautionary tale against unchecked 'Machiavellian' authority. Crime fiction and gialli mysteries dominate Italy's best-seller list, and one of its finest writers is Gianrico Carofiglio, the former head of Bari's anti-Mafia squad. Carofiglio's novels include the award-winning Testimone inconsapevole Involuntary Witness; , which introduces the shady underworld of Bari's hinterland.
Once Was Never Enough
Art also imitates life for judge-cum-novelist Giancarlo de Cataldo, whose best-selling novel Romanzo criminale Criminal Romance; spawned both a TV series and film. Another crime writer with page-to-screen success is Andrea Camilleri, his savvy Sicilian inspector Montalbano starring in capers like Il gioco degli specchi Game of Mirrors; Umberto Eco gave the genre an intellectual edge with his medieval detective tale Il nome della rosa The Name of the Rose; and Il pendolo di Foucault Foucault's Pendulum; In Eco's Il cimitero di Praga The Prague Cemetery; , historical events merge with the tale of a master killer and forger.
Set during the Black Death in Florence, Boccaccio's Decameron c —53 has a visceral gallows humour that foreshadows Chaucer and Shakespeare. Italy's 19th-century struggle for unification parallels the story of star-crossed lovers in Alessandro Manzoni's I promessi sposi The Betrothed; , definitive version released , and causes an identity crisis among Sicilian nobility in Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa's Il gattopardo The Leopard; published posthumously in In Margaret Mazzantini's Venuto al mondo Twice Born; , it's the Bosnian War that forms the backdrop to a powerful tale of motherhood and loss.
Roman epic poet Virgil aka Vergilius spent 11 years and 12 books tracking the outbound adventures and inner turmoil of Trojan hero Aeneas, from the fall of Troy to the founding of Rome. As Virgil himself observed: 'Time flies'. Fellow Roman Ovid Ovidius was also skilled at telling a ripping tale.
His Metamorphoses chronicled civilisation from murky mythological beginnings to Julius Caesar, and his how-to seduction manual Ars amatoria The Art of Love inspired countless Casanovas. The emperor's motive remains a mystery to this day, with theories ranging from Ovid's association with people opposed to his rule, to the poet's knowledge of a supposedly incestuous relationship between Augustus and his daughter or granddaughter. Italy has always been its own sharpest critic and several 20th-century Italian authors captured their own troubling circumstances with unflinching accuracy.
Grazia Deledda's Cosima is her fictionalised memoir of coming of age and into her own as a writer in rural Sardinia. Jealousy, divorce and parental failings are grappled with by pseudonymous author Elena Ferrante in her brutally honest I giorni dell'abbandono The Days of Abandonment; In , Ferrante published Storia della bambina perduta The Story of the Lost Child , the final installment in her so-called Neapolitan series, four novels exploring the life-long friendship of two women born into a world of poverty, chaos and violence in Naples.
Confronting themes also underline Alessandro Pipero's Persecuzione Persecution; , which sees an esteemed oncologist accused of child molestation. Its sequel, Inseparabili , won the Premio Strega literature prize. Some literature scholars claim that Shakespeare stole his best lines and plot points from earlier Italian playwrights and poets.
Debatable though this may be, the Bard certainly had stiff competition from 13th-century Dante Alighieri as the world's finest romancer. Dante broke with tradition in La divina commedia The Divine Comedy; c —21 by using the familiar Italian, not the formal Latin, to describe travelling through the circles of hell in search of his beloved Beatrice. Petrarch aka Francesco Petrarca added wow to Italian woo with his eponymous sonnets, applying a strict structure of rhythm and rhyme to romance the idealised Laura.
If sonnets aren't to your taste, try Nobel laureate Eugenio Montale, who wrings poetry out of the creeping damp of everyday life, or Ungaretti, whose WWI poems hit home with a few searing syllables. Any self-respecting Italian bookshelf features one or more Roman rhetoricians. To fare la bella figura cut a fine figure among academics, trot out a phrase from Cicero or Horace Horatio , such as 'Where there is life there is hope' or 'Whatever advice you give, be brief.
It may be an international staple these days, but the term paparazzi stems from Federico Fellini's La dolce vita , which features a newspaper photographer named Paparazo. It's said that Fellini's inspiration for the character's name was a word in dialect used to describe the buzzing sound of a mosquito. Crueller and bloodier than their American counterparts, Italian zombie films enjoy international cult status.
An adaptation of the French film Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis Welcome to the Sticks; , it tells the tale of a northern postmaster posted to a small Campanian town, bullet-proof vest in tow. Italy's most coveted literary prize, the Premio Strega, is awarded annually to a work of Italian prose fiction. Its youngest recipient to date is physicist-cum-writer Paolo Giordano, who, at 26, won for his debut novel La solitudine dei numeri primi The Solitude of Prime Numbers; Aside from homegrown productions, the complex has served as a shooting location for numerous Hollywood films, including Ben-Hur and Cleopatra , as well as the recent small-screen hit The Young Pope Imagine you wake up tomorrow and discover you're Italian.
How would life be different, and what could you discover about Italy in just one day as a local? Read on…. You're woken not by an alarm but by the burble and clatter of the caffettiera, the ubiquitous stovetop espresso-maker. You're running late, so you bolt down your coffee scalding hot an acquired Italian talent and pause briefly to ensure your socks match before dashing out the door.
Yet still you walk blocks out of your way to buy your morning paper from Bucharest-born Nicolae, your favourite news vendor and as a Romanian part of Italy's largest migrant community. You chat briefly about his new baby — you may be late, but at least you're not rude.
On your way to work you scan the headlines: another hour transport strike, more coalition-government infighting and an announcement of new EU regulations on cheese. The cheese regulations, that is; the rest is to be expected. At work, you're buried in paperwork until noon, when it's a relief to join friends for lunch and a glass of wine. Afterwards you toss back another scorching espresso at your favourite bar and find out how your barista's latest audition went — turns out you went to school with the sister of the director of the play, so you promise to put in a good word. Back at work by 2pm, you multitask Italian-style, chatting with co-workers as you dash off work emails, text your schoolmate about the barista on your telefonino mobile phone and surreptitiously check l'Internet for employment listings — your work contract is due to expire soon.
After a busy day like this, aperitivi are definitely in order, so at 6. Your friends arrive, the decor is molto design and the vibe molto fashion , until suddenly it's time for your English class — everyone's learning it these days, if only for the slang. By the time you finally get home, it's already 9. You eat, absent-mindedly watching the latest episode of MasterChef Italia while recounting your day and complaining about cheese regulations to whoever's home — no sense giving reheated pasta your undivided attention.
While brushing your teeth, you dream of a vacation in Anguilla, though without a raise, it'll probably be Abruzzo again this year. Giovanni Boldini 31 December — 11 July was an Italian genre and portrait painter who lived and worked in Paris for most of his career. According to a article in Time magazine, he was known as the "Master of Swish" because of his flowing style of painting.
Boldini was born in Ferrara , the son of a painter of religious subjects, and in went to Florence for six years to study and pursue painting. He only infrequently attended classes at the Academy of Fine Arts, but in Florence, met other realist painters known as the Macchiaioli , who were Italian precursors to Impressionism. Their influence is seen in Boldini's landscapes which show his spontaneous response to nature, although it is for his portraits that he became best known.
Moving to London, Boldini attained success as a portraitist. He completed portraits of premier members of society including Lady Holland and the Duchess of Westminster. He became the most fashionable portrait painter in Paris in the late 19th century, with a dashing style of painting which shows some Macchiaioli influence and a brio reminiscent of the work of younger artists, such as John Singer Sargent and Paul Helleu. In he had a solo exhibition in New York.
A Boldini portrait of his former muse Marthe de Florian , a French actress, was discovered in a Paris flat in late , hidden away from view on the premises that were unvisited for over 50 years.
- Knaves of Spondulix.
- The Grand Coulee Dam.
- Der Bombenkrieg 1939 bis 1945 in Düsseldorf (German Edition).
- Moses And Monotheism.
- Death Race for Love?
The portrait has never been listed, exhibited or published and the flat belonged to de Florian's granddaughter, who inherited the flat after her father's death in and lived in the South of France after the outbreak of the Second World War and never returned to Paris. A full-length portrait of the lady in the same clothing and accessories, but less provocative, hangs in the New Orleans Museum of Art. The discovery of his painting in the years-empty apartment forms the background to Michelle Gable's novel A Paris Apartment.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Giovanni Boldini. Dizionario degli Artisti Italiani Viventi: pittori, scultori, e Architetti. Tipe dei Successori Le Monnier. The Independent. The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 6 October The San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved 3 August Categories : births deaths 19th-century Italian painters Italian male painters 20th-century Italian painters Italian portrait painters People from Ferrara Legion of Honour recipients. Namespaces Article Talk. Views Read Edit View history. In other projects Wikimedia Commons.