Vatican Exhibition: “A Century of Graphic Art”




This exhibition, dedicated to XX century images from the Contemporary Art Collection of the Vatican Museums, comes from the desire to make lovers and specialists of modern and contemporary art aware of the wonderful graphic masterpieces of the collection that are, for the most part, very little known.
Founded in 1973, the core of the Contemporary Art Collection now boasts about 4.000 works, including prints and drawings. For conservation reasons, the pieces rotate through the rooms of the museums devoted to contemporary art, meaning that only a few pieces of the collection are on display at any one time. The core, particularly wide and rich, documents a century of artistic production, both Italian and foreign, and includes some truly exceptional pieces. Some of the important international artists represented in the collection are Braque, Denis, Ernst, Klee, Kandinsky, Kokoschka, Matisse, Munch, Nolde. Among the Italian artists represented are Cambellotti, Morandi, Casorati, De Carolis, Lorenzo Viani. This exhibition aims to present a selection of about 100 engravings and prints organized by author’s name, cronology and artistic theme. These prints will be presented side by side with paintings, sculptures and drawings. The choice to focus on graphic production of engravings and prints, comes from the desire to reflect on the linguistic implications that accompany the extraordinary variety of techniques offered by this type of work, with each artist altering the artistic medium to suit his or her specific artistic needs.
The anthology of selected works testifies to the great experiment of graphic production in the 20th century visible through the birth of modern screen printing and new methods of mechanical reproduction. This includes the use of never before used materials, such as linoleum, and the review of traditional methods, frequently combined with innovative procedures to create ever-varied outcomes. The exhibition, organized in thematic sections, aims to stimulate the visitor to investigate the comparisons, relationships, and similarities between the works.


13_WatanabeIcons and storytelling section
This section compares masterpieces that belong to two figurative artistic poles: “icon” and “narrative.” Modern interpretations of the Byzantine icons or iconographic subjects – God the Father, Christ, the Virgin and Child – are juxtaposed with “narrative” images. These two methods of representation often share a panoramic format that favors the development of a spatial and temporal dimension. Artists such as Kandinsky, Nolde, Beckmann, Pechstein, Cambellotti, Lorenzo Viani are all represented in this section.

The sentiments of the sacred section
This section emphasizes the wide range of human feelings contained in the sacred iconography, from the most frequently represented, such as the maternal love of the Virgin (represented by Carra, Matisse, and others), to the more unusual, such as subjects taken from the Old and New Testament, like The Kiss of Judas by Casorati, Susanna and the Elders by Tappert, and Saul and David by Dix. The sense of protection and amazement brought on by manifestations of the sacred representations and the subsequent moments of prayer are brilliantly captured by Munch, Nolde, and Denis.

Suffering in sacred art and etchings of  War section
During times of war, especially in the years of the two World Wars, many artists devoted great creative energy to sacred subjects that served as metaphors for the current state of the world. The works of Casorati, Chagall, Kokoschka, Marino Marini, Messina, Moore, Rouault, and Sutherland presented in this section are connected by the common thread of suffering and injustice.

Footprints of reality section
Faces of family, still lives, representations of everyday objects, and corners of landscapes are the focus of this section. It is almost entirely comprised of Italian artists who presented an intimate look at everyday things, such as Morandi, the undisputed master of engraving unique and perfect everyday visions. Also in this section are lesser-known artists such as Boccioni and Nunzio Gulino, Primo Conti, and the Slovenian, Zoran Mušič.

The city and architecture section
This section presents a small precious nucleus of views of the cities of the Tens and Twenties. Particularly well represented in this section are works made by the masters of engraving and lithograph, Bucci, Nolde, Delaunay, and works from the Bauhaus artists Klee and Feininger. There are also exact representations, or fantastic interpretations, of churches and monuments, and a series of serigraphs by Mario Radice reproducing his paintings for “Casa Terragni” in the 1930s.

Technique: tradition and experiment section
This section presents a comparison between the sheets and wooden matrices of Japanese artists – Akusawa and Watanabe – and Italian artist – Bruno da Osimo and Venturino Venturi. It inquires about  the  differences  and  similarties  between works created by different cultures and different uses of the same technique, woodcut, but with the same materials, wood and ink.

Form and Color Section
This section presents a comprehensive overview of Italian and foreign artists, who have researched the full abstraction of the 1900s. These works represent such diverse techniques as lithography, silkscreen, etching, aquatint, and collagraph, by artists as widespread as Braque, Ernst, Miro, Consagra, Fontana, and Melotti. The results illustrate the wide variety of formal experimentation generated by the dialogue between figure and abstraction, and the wealth of the combinations resulting from the distinct worldview of the artists.

The resurrection of Fazzini Section
This section is a small tribute to the Pope who founded the Collection of Contemporary Art, Paul VI. Pericle Fazzini created the big sculpture Resurrection for the Aula Nervi, realized under Pope Paul VI. Several studies for the artwork are exhibited in this section, in order to give the opportunity to compare the similar outcomes achieved through different mediums.

Analysis of Costs
Installation/Education: 130.000,00
Catalogue IT/EN: 40.000,00
Compensation for Essays: 5.000,00
Press and Graphics: 5.000,00