“ytalia,” cimabue, and contemporary italian art

Detail of Cimabue fresco (c. 1280), Basilica of Assisi and cast sterling silver medieval city by Naomi Muirhead
Detail of Cimabue fresco (c. 1280), Basilica of Assisi and cast sterling silver medieval city by Naomi Muirhead










Many years ago, one of my first casting projects in silver was inspired by Cimabue’s frescoes in the Basilica of Assisi—the colors, forms, and his stylistic story telling. I was particularly drawn to the architectural depiction of an Italian city in the Upper Basilica, a fresco (c. 1280) in the vault at the entrance to the right transept which depicts St. Mark and a topographically accurate representation the city of Rome.

Just above to the left, Cimabue wrote Ytalia as “an early affirmation of the existence of Italian civilization. With this mark, Cimabue sanctioned that national boundaries are artistic before political and that national identity is made up of classic and humanistic culture, pagan beauty and Christian spirituality.

Italy is a republic founded on art and beauty: one could also affirm that it is a republic founded and re-founded by artists. – YTALIA

This explains the title of an upcoming city-wide exhibition in Florence, an impressive collective featuring 12 pioneering Italian contemporary artists: Mario Merz (1925-2003), Giovanni Anselmo (1934), Jannis Kounellis (1936-2017), Luciano Fabro (1936-2007), Alighiero Boetti (1940-1994), Giulio Paolini (1940), Gino De Dominicis (1947-1998), Remo Salvadori (1947), Mimmo Paladino (1948), Marco Bagnoli (1949), Nunzio (1954), Domenico Bianchi (1955).



Energy Thoughts Beauty. It’s all connected.

June 2 – October 1, 2017

100 contemporary works of art at Forte di Belvedere
Florence, Italy

Ytalia will be held at the Forte Belvedere as its primary location, while also involving other important museums and locations around town: the Uffizi Gallery, Palazzo Vecchio, Palazzo Pitti, Boboli Gardens, the Basilica of Santa Croce, the Museo Novecento, and the Museo Marino Marini. Some works were created specifically for the triumphant exhibition, and other classic works will displayed such as the Calamita Cosmica (Cosmic Calamity) by Gino De Dominicis, a skeleton of monumental dimensions will be installed at the Forte Belvedere. I first saw this work installed in the former church of the Santissima Trinità in Annunziata in Foligno. It will be interesting to see in Florence, perfectly aligned with the Duomo of Santa Maria del Fiore. I also look forward to seeing Luciano Fabro’s Italia d’Oro (Golden Italy), 1971, of 36″ of gilt bronze and steel cable.

I am also curious to see what work by Greek-Italian artist Jannis Kounellis, one of the leading figures of the Arte Povera movement, will be installed. He, unfortunately, just died in February at age 80.

See the YTALIA exhibition website for more info: http://ytalia.musefirenze.it/en/


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