Arts Post
Posted at 12:53 PM ET, 10/04/2011

“Regions of Italy” exhibit descends on the Italian Embassy

The Embassy of Italy is paying homage to 150th anniversary of the unification of their country by presenting the exhibit “Regions of Italy,” where each region has presented a symbol of their area’s culture to be represented at the embassy. Paintings, sculpture, fashion, and wines from the Tuscan region are on exhibit for the world to see.

Mimmo Rotella, "Ritz," decollage on canvas, 1963. From the Mimmo Rotella Foundation, Catanzaro. The Italian Embassy has brought together the best of art and culture from each region for a special exhibit to commemorate the country’s sesquicentennial of unification. (Courtesy of the Embassy of Italy in Washington)
Curated by Alessandro Nicosia, the showcase represents each of the 20 regions, from Sicily to Sardinia, with works from 18 different artists, ranging from a bronze “Narcissus,” created in 1886 by Vincenzo Gemito from Campania, to the regimented oil painting “Artillery Maneuvers,” created by Giovanni Fatori. The images focus on many ideals of Italian history, from the pre-unification days of civil unrest and war, to the progression of everyday life, and the effects of the modern world in a country with such a storied past. There are three different periods of Italian art in the country: Post-unification from 1861 - 1911 depicts the country striving to find a middle ground within its regions despite a troubled past.

The beginning of the exhibit shows the civil unrest that was occurring pre-unification, and the aftermath of a country forced to rebuild. Giovanni Fattori’s “Artillery Maneuvers” and Michele Tedesco’s 1903 “Zanardelli’s Visit to Basilicata,” depict both the tragedy and the progression of Italy, with the latter depicting the former prime minister’s visit to the area. More delicate images show evident sorrow that plagued the people, such as in the poignant “I Morticelli” by Francesco Paolo Michetti, from the Abruzzo region.
Giovanni Fattori, "Artillery Maneuvers," undated oil on panel. From the Galleria d'Arte Moderna in Palazzo Pitzzi. Superintendence for the Historical, Artistic and Ethno-anthropological and the Museums, City of Florence. (Courtesy of the Embassy of Italy in Washington)

From 1911 to 1961, Italian artists labored through the damper of World Wars I and II by keeping their heritage alive by creating simple works. Ordinary images and everyday people took on a stoic look as seen in Giorgio Morandi’s 1947 oil painting “Still Life,” and Felice Casorati’s 1918 metaphysical tempera “Portrait of Anna Maria de Lisi,” from the regions of Emilia Romagna and Piedmont, respectively. Post-1961, American ideas and pop culture influence strongly permeated Italian art in the mid-20th century, with the influences of pop art and the space age viewed through the eyes of Mimmo Rotella and Pino Pascali, whose brightly created decollage “Ritz” and an enamel and tar piece simply titled “Missile” pay homage to the changing times that set the stage for the commercialism and technology of the 21st century.

Modern opera and theater take center stage in the four paned set designs of Emanuele Luzzati, who created his stage ideas for the productions “Candide,” by Leonard Bernstein, “Love Potion,” by Gaetano Donizzetti, “The Prodigal Son” by Giampiero Malipero, and “Dybbuk” by Ludocivo Rocca. Fashion elements include a silk taffeta robe from designer Loretta Caponi of Florence and a beaded evening gown presented by Gattinoni Couture, with vintage Tuscan wines representative of anniversary years placed nearby.
Francesco Paolo Michelli, "I Morticelli," 1880, oil on canvas. Superintendence for the Historical, Artistic and Ethno-anthropological Abruzzo, L'Aquila. (Courtesy of the Embassy of Italy in Washington)

Italian Ambassador Giulio Terzi di Sant’Agata is proud of his country’s cultural significance, and hopes that the appreciation he feels translates through the exhibit and to the viewer. “It is very important to see this exhibit of regions as also an element which acknowledges the contribution of the different regions of Italy to the Italian Americans’ culture and feelings here in the States.”

“We want to show that the history... and the political thought, which is underlining and strengthening that history of Italian unification has an extraordinary modernity. It’s a history which is felt today and is a projection into the future.”

“As President Napolitano said welcoming Vice President Joe Biden in Rome, he said “There is no other country where abroad, outside of Italy, where Italian unification should be celebrated properly, as the United States.”

The exhibit comes on the heels of over a year of events that the Embassy has either hosted or partnered with in order to commemorate the sesquicentennial, including exhibits, performances and lectures at the National Building Museum, Library of Congress, and Georgetown University.

“Regions of Italy”opens today and will remain through Oct. 30. Viewing hours are from 10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Monday - Friday. The exhibit is located at 3000 Whitehaven NW. For more information visit the Embassy of Italy in Washington site.

By Erin Williams  |  12:53 PM ET, 10/04/2011

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