When considering a visit to the Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museum tour, perhaps you've had doubts about the long lines, heat, the expense, hours on your feet slugging through the 5 miles of museum corridors, shoulder-to-shoulder with the cruise ship tour groups, trying to soak in all of the Sistine Chapel's majesty within the 10 minutes they allow... well, you may now have a serious option for enjoying the art of the Master in a unique and new way...
Artainment Worldwide Shows, along with the expertise of the Vatican Museums, have produced Giudizio Universale's Michelangelo and the Secrets of the Sistine Chapel.
The multimedia and live performance show aims to be an important event for art lovers and will be a must-see for the millions of Italian and international visitors who place Rome and the Vatican Museum at the top of their Must See List. Conceived by Marco Balich, the show is the first example of an innovative format that combines the narrative of the origin of a masterpiece with the most sophisticated and technologically advanced instruments of live entertainment.
For this project, Marco Balich has collaborated with world-renowned musician Sting, who composed the original theme music. The other names of the cast are stunning: the voice of Michelangelo will be by Pier Francesco Favino (known for the Disney fantasy “The Chronicles of Narnia – Prince Caspian” and the collaboration with the Oscar-winning director Ron Howard’s “Rush” and “Angels and Demons”). Together with the original theme performed and arranged by Sting, there will be new music composed by John Metcalfe, a leading figure in the contemporary pop-rock scene and producer of artists such as Morrisey, Blur and Coldplay.
The show explores more than just the Sistine Chapel, but the history and works of the Master himself--Michelangelo and the 16th century Renaissance. The show is a mix of art history, theatrical performance, both photographic and physical special effects, words, images, dance and music.
The most impressive thing about the production are its 270° immersive projections, together with larger-than-life stage effects and live performances similar to Cirque du Soleil acrobatics. During a 60-minute show, spectators will follow the story of the origin of Michelangelo’s masterpiece, from Giulio II‘s commission of frescoes of the vault to the realization of the Universal Judgment, through a reenactment of the Sistine Chapel as the place for the papal election.
Through the storytelling about Michelangelo, modern special effects will animate the frescos of the Sistine Chapel to end with the wonderful Universal Judgment that will come to life throughout the space around the public. A new chapter of the Italian cultural offering, Giudizio Universale is a long-term project with a typical Italian style. It will run from March 15, 2018, at the Auditorium della Conciliazione in Rome. The audience will be able to choose to attend the show in Italian or in English (starting March 24).
Let's hope that the production draws away some of the crowds that are overburdening the Vatican Museum itself... and that the Vatican helps to publicize the show. It's become obvious the Vatican has oversold both the Museum and St. Peters Basilica with a fear that they are destined to become a tourist destination with as little passion and meaning as a visit to Euro Disney.
From the Mouth of the Bocca: This is a great option for people who normally would never spend an entire day in a hot, stuffy art museum and prefer lighter entertainment.
Giacomo Carmagnola is an Italian graphic designer who creations are classified as Glitch Art, a school of art that utilizes glitches in digital (or other) technologies as primary expressive elements in their creations. He often mixes vintage photographs with digital manipulation and techniques. His work is a mix of the occult, the sinister, emotions and abstractions, and raw psychological thrills. Adobe Photoshop and Processing Pixel sorting scripts are his medium.
No shit! There really is a Shit Museum in Italy... the Museo della Merda.
It was in 2015 that Gianantonio Locatelli founded the "museum" in Lombardy along with his associates: Luca Cipelletti, who manages its projects and products, Gaspare Luigi Marcone and Massimo Valsecchi.
The idea came into being in Castelbosco, in the province of Piacenza (just south of Milan) on a farm which makes milk for Grana Padano cheese and includes seven production units. Here every day 3,500 specially selected cows produce around 50,000 litres of milk and 150,000 kilos of poop.
The future-thinking Locatelli wanted to turn all this excrement into something useful with his ecological, productive and cultural scheme. Using highly innovative systems, electrical energy started to be produced from the manure. Today the farm produces up to three megawatts per hour! The buildings and offices of the farm are heated exploiting the warmth given off by huge processing tanks called Digestori (digesters) turning the manure into energy. The process also produces fertilizer offered for sale under the name MerdaMe (Shit me).
All these activities have drawn attention from various international institutions concerned with ecology and innovation, leading to widespread recognition and prizes, and making Castelbosco a point of reference.
Locatelli began to gather together friends and artists, leading him to the idea of the Shit Museum. The Museum itself might be called a canvas onto which artists create... the Digesters themselves transformed into a bright colored landmark in the area. The idea for a new museum slowly took shape, emerging from manure to deal with the broader theme of transformation. The museum would be an agent of change which, through educational and research activities, the production of objects of everyday use and the gathering of artifacts and stories concerning excrement in the modern world and throughout history, was to dismantle cultural norms and prejudices.
The first stage of the project was carried out in April 2015 with the inauguration of the exhibition spaces of the Museum, in the rooms on the ground floor of the company premises, located within the medieval castle of Castelbosco. The museum is a blend of aesthetic, scientific, human and animal experiences, both modern day and historic. The concept is that shit is a useful and living material.
The symbol and mascot of the Museum is the dung beetle, considered divine by the Egyptians (and symbol of the Museum itself), to the use of dung in architecture, from ancient Italian civilizations to those in Africa, via historical-literary works such as Pliny’s Naturalis Historia. Right up to the latest scientific research and works of art drawing on the use and reuse of waste and discarded materials, the Museum is a contemporary cabinet of curiosities which finds its main guide in the science and art of transformation.
Right from the start, the Shit Museum was designed to be a production center not only of ideas and exhibitions, but also of objects and projects. The implementation and patenting of the Merdacotta® brand sums up the principle of sustainability. The poo is mixed with clay and gives shape to the first products to bear the Museo della Merda brand: vases, flowerpots, tiles, plates, bowls, a jug and a mug in simple, clean, rustic shapes, harking back to ancient principles.
The ‘primordial products’ of the Museum were presented for the first time during the 2016 Salone del Mobile, in an exhibition which won the promoters Cipelletti and Locatelli first prize in the Milano Design Award. The motivation given was as follows: “for the development of a process of great complexity and innovation, capable of destabilizing common perceptions. The educational itinerary breaks down all the commonplace stereotypes and offers a censorial experience, one which promotes a new vision of the culture of the project.”
Museo della Merda
Frazione Campremoldo Sopra
29010 Gragnano Trebbiense (PC), ITALY
To Make an Appointment: email@example.com
For information: firstname.lastname@example.org
With a commanding view of the Amalfi Coastline, the Auditorium Oscar Niemeyer in Ravello is balanced on its perch at a height of 1200 feet above the sea below. Before it was built, the "City of Music" (as Ravello is called) featured several beautiful outdoor venues--but none with more than a hundred seat capacity. Villa Rufolo, Villa Cimbrone, Piazza Duomo and Piazza San Giovanni del Toro all offered concerts, dance performances and plays. But Ravello desired a new, dynamic structure, allowing it to extend the concert series all year round to a greater number of fans and admirers.
The project was assigned to the famous Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer who delivered his plans on September 23rd 2000, after only seventy days of work. From the outset the architect found himself in front of problems related to natural unevenness of the terrain:
"... the uneven ground, narrow with a very strong transverse orientation. Hence the initiative to build a model." ... " I did not think an expensive operation involving an unnatural development of the land was necessary, so I took as a starting point the exact inclination of the parterre and the project started to take its present shape".
Niemeyer died at 105 years old in 2011, one year before construction was completed.
The architecture of Ravello has Roman and Medieval roots and is strongly characterized by architectural elements typical of such periods, such as vaulted ceilings, terraces, columns, classical statuary, arches, and formal gardens. One would think that the first obstacle to overcome was just to design a structure that was not in conflict with the architectural identity of Ravello and the Amalfi Coast.
In reality, the Auditorium is an assault against the traditional lines of architecture. It is a cornerstone in aesthetic and cultural modernization of the countryside, jumping out of the surrounding environment with its curved lines and the blinding white color. The shape of the one side of the structure reminds one of the eyes painted on the prows of fishing vessels harking back to the time of the Greeks. Others might think the building looks like a large bird about to fly from its nest to soar the coastline below, or its shape like the wing of an obese jetliner.
The Auditorium is accessed by an oblong square, which allows its visitors to enjoy, at the same time, the amazing landscape and view of the sea. From a vantage-point from above the large glass entrance, one can see the mountains' reflection. The main concert hall defies the natural slope of the land... the orchestra stand and the foyer are projecting over the cliff without a visible support.
"It's not the perfect angle that attracts me, and not even the straight, hard, inflexible man-made one. What really attracts me is the free and sensual curve. The curve that represents the meeting of the mountains of my homeland, the figure of a beautiful woman, the clouds of the sky and the waves of the sea. The same curves which create the Universe. The curved Universe of Einstein. "
There has been--and still is--controversy about the design and placement of the Auditorium. For one thing, the architecture sticks out of the landscape and surrounding architecture like a sort, bright white thumb. Some complain that Neimeyer didn't design the structure to take full advantage of the amazing panoramic views of the coastline below, leaving only the large windows the the left of the audience, a rather low and narrow "eye" window situated right behind the performers, and a round window too high for anyone to see much of a view.
The room--acoustically speaking--is a very difficult one, in terms of producing the best sound for the audience's pleasure. Some experts claim it is flawed, while audiences suggest the opposite. First of all, it's not symmetrical... the floor on the right side extends further from the audience than the left side. The sound is no distributes equally to all seats (the center seats are louder than the ones along the side).
Another issue with its design is parking. Although it contains a lower level parking garage, there are only 107 parking spaces, some argue not enough for the 400 seat auditorium. There are also problems with the daily running of the venue... cafes being closed for no reason, people still entering the auditorium 20 minutes after a concert has started, etc. There are also some signs on the smooth, curved surface of the roof having many patches in it... surprising for such a young structure. One wonders if the building will last for a millennia as others have along the Amalfi Coast.
And if you visit the Auditorium during the months when there are no concerts scheduled, you can still see a feature film there. Bigfoot Junior is showing this week.
When I lived in Paris years ago, one of the most unexpected pleasures was when I visited the Père Lachaise Cemetery. Often, people regard this unusual site as a place of pilgrimage, to pay homage to the likes of Chopin, Edith Piaf, Oscar Wilde or even rock legend Jim Morrison (his grave littered with graffiti and drug paraphernalia was distasteful to me). But I went for a different reason... the art. Admittedly, wealthy families could possibly afford to commission a granite temple, travertine pyramid or marble sculptures to honor a lost beloved member--and truth be told, perhaps the effort is really a monument to perpetuate the myth of their family's importance for the ones still living and yet to come.
In any case, I didn't visit to pay homage to any heroes of mine. I went for the art itself. In Italy, it's also possible to do the same as a number of cemeteries contain some amazing monumental art.
Most modern Italian cemeteries sit on the outskirts of their towns and consist of a mix of traditional graves and headstones and multi-level rows of vaults, a method used by the both the ancient Etruscans and early Christians. The vaults are simple affairs, sealed with a marble stone, names and dates with a small medallion containing a photo of the individual as they appeared in life.
However, over the years, many wealthier families commissioned architects and artists to create chapels, tombs and sculptures resulting in many Italian cemeteries becoming open-air museums of funerary art, known as Cimiteri Monumentali (Monumental Cemeteries). I've put together a collection for you to enjoy...
Cemeteries Worth Visiting
Monumental Cemetery of Staglieno
One of the largest cemeteries in Europe, the Cimitero Monumentale di Staglieno in Genoa covers nearly a square mile on the hilltop district known as Staglieno. It was opened in 1844 at a time when Genoa was home to affluent bourgeoisie businessmen, politicians and artists. To honor their accomplishments, realistic sculptures were commissioned for their tombs. This is without doubt, one of the most visited monumental cemeteries in Europe.
San Michele Cemetery, "Island of the Dead", Venice
After the fall of the Venetian Republic in 1797, Napoleon prohibited any burials in town centers and in Venice, this meant that a new walled cemetery was commissioned on the island of San Michele, within reach of gondolas from the Venice waterfront. The island is landscaped with tall cypress trees, a 15th Century church and cloister. The shallow graves are occupied a dozen years and afterwards are exhumed with the bones interred into mausoleum niches or dumped into a communal ossuary.
You'll find graves of 19th and 20th Century foreigners, including celebrities like Ezra Pound, Serge Diaghilev (whose grave normally is decorated with a ballet slipper), and Igor Stravinsky.
Cimitero Monumentale di Torino
The Monumental Cemetery of Turin was commissioned in 1827 to replace the small and ancient cemetery of St. Peter in Chains. It contains numerous historical tombs and 6 miles of porticoes adorned with sculptures of artistic interest.
Cimitero Monumentale di Milano
One of two large cemeteries in Milan (Cimitero Maggiore is the other), Milan Monumental Cemetery was designed by architect Carlo Maciachini and contains a multitude of sculptures by renowned artists: Giò Ponti, Arturo Martini, Lucio Fontana, Medardo Rosso, Giacomo Manzù, Floriano Bodini, and Giò Pomodoro.
Visitors enter through an impressive Medieval style building of marble and stone that contains the tombs of the country's most honored citizens. Besides having mostly Catholic graves, there are also sections for Jews and other non-C Catholics. The cemetery contains the tombs of composers Corelli, Verdi and Toscanini.
Cimitero Monumentale di Messina
The Monumental Cemetery of Messina, in Sicily, is one the best for funerary art. In 1854, it was designed as a urban park and gardens as well as a cemetery. The cemetery is divided into the Jewish cemetery, the Catholic cemetery, and a monument to the victims of the First World War. The art in this cemetery is second only to Monumental Cemetery of Staglieno in Genoa.
Roberto Ferri, born 1978, is an Italian artist and painter from Taranto, Italy. He is deeply inspired by Baroque painters (in particular Caravaggio) and other ancient masters of Romanticism, Academism, and Symbolism (David, Ingres, Girodet, Gericault, Gleyre, Bouguereau, Moreau, Redon, Rops, etc.)
Graduated - with honors - Academy of Fine Arts in Rome.
In 2003 - first one-man show "Roberto Ferri and the dream of Parnassus" in the Center of Contemporary Art in Rome.
His works are already present in many important private collections in London, Paris, Madrid, Barcelona, Miami, New York, San Antonio, Rome, Milan, Malta, Dublin, Boston, and the Castle of Menerbes, Provence.
“Each of my paintings carries a message containing symbols and allegories whose interpretation depends on the viewers: the message travels in two opposite directions concerning both intellectual tension and perception.”
Now that the New Year is behind us, the fireworks smoldering out, the empty bottles of Prosecco dumped into the recycling bin and our stomachs filled to the breaking point, you might think that the holiday is over. In Italy, the Season has another week to go...
Christmas time in Italy is not finished until the Epiphany on January 6th (giorno della Befana). In essence, the Twelve Nights of Christmas come after December 25th.
On the night of the Epiphany, children wait for the Befana the Christmas Witch who--according to Italian folklore--arrives on a broomstick, comes down the chimneys and fills kids’ stockings with sweets, chocolate or a lump of coal for those who have been naughty.
Children will hang stockings on the mantle for Befana to fill, even though the modern custom of receiving gifts on Christmas Day is also enjoyed. In parts of northern Italy, the Three Kings might bring your present rather than Befana. And even though Babbo Natale (Santa Claus) might have brought them some small gifts on December 25th, the main day for present giving is on Epiphany.
Many Italians continue the Holiday season by taking a trip down South if the weather is warm or up North or to the mountains where they can enjoy some skiing. The week following Capodanno is for family gatherings, vising distant relatives or simply spending time at home with their children, who are home on Christmas break until after the Epiphany.
In some towns, Christmas markets are still running strong:
Trento: from November 22, to January 6 (closed on Christmas day). The Trento Christmas market will be twice as big with wooden huts selling Christmas and traditional goods both in Piazza Fiera and Piazza Cesare Battisti. The traditional Nativity Scene will be hosted in Piazza Duomo.
Levico Terme: from November 22 to January 6.
Rovereto: from November 22 to January 6.
Arco: from November 21 to January 6.
Merano: November 24th - January 6th on Piazza Terme and surrounding streets.
Vipiteno, South Tyrol: November 24th - January 6th, Piazza Città
Naples, Campania: any time of the year, visit artisans that create presepe and character figurines and accessories. On Via San Gregorio Armeno
Click on the photo above to see a high resolution image
The whole world has heard of the "newly discovered" or "recently accredited" painting called Salvator Mundi (Savior of the World) becoming the highest price ever paid for a painting in history... $450 million. Wait. Let me put all those zeros back in for effect. That's $450,000,000. Nearly half a billion dollars! And of course, the main reason is that art experts claim the painting was created by the hand of Leonardo Da Vinci himself. But is this a fact, or merely the opinion of a bunch of art historians and experts hired by the 20 person American consortium that owned the painting?
To add more drama to the transition from muddled, awkward, damaged painting to one touted with little doubt as one touched by the Master's Hand (and to trump up its predicted value at auction), Christie's auction house put together the following time-lapse video of the "transformation". (Yes, they actually tend to use the word "transformation", not "restoration"). Check out this video...
Even though the consortium of Americans, led by Robert Simon of Robert Simon Fine Art (in the business of marketing Old Masters paintings), who raked in $450 million (less the 30% fee for Christie's) are very happy about the sale, many others still have doubts about the painting. At this point, no one is certain who bought it, but you can be sure we will see it again, marketed like crazy by some big name museum, with a full compliment of T-shirts, books, posters, pillows, mugs to bolster profits.
Thomas Campbell, former director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, was quoted recently that, while the sales price was “eye-popping, it should come as no surprise in a market where speculation, marketing and branding have displaced connoisseurship as the metrics of value” and that the price alone would "guarantee notoriety” even if their were ongoing doubts about its authenticity. He continued, “Someone is gambling that this painting will attract audiences in the way that the Mona Lisa draws crowds at the Louvre.”
For the last several decades it seems that art "experts"--especially those associated or hired by fine art auction houses--hype and pump up prices as their main raison d'être. Even if the art is unworthy of attention, if they can draw attention to a work, its auction price will climb ever higher. Hucksters have invaded the fine art world, for sure.
Many other experts aren't so sure this is in fact a painting by Da Vinci himself. In fact, until the last time it was sold at auction in 1958 for a mere £45, its authorship was unclear. It was previously attributed to the hand of Giovanni Antonio Boltraffio, a student in Da Vinci's studio and a Master in his own right. Compare the beauty and quality of his work below. Pay close attention to the hand, eyes, nose and curls of hair...
Let's get into some of the "evidence" about why these experts think the Salvator Mundi is "the" Salvator Mundi by Da Vinci...
Some claimed that the wood panel is similar to the panel in size and type that the Mona Lisa is painted on. They aren't.
Next, consider that Leonardo Da Vinci was left-handed. There is evidence in the Salvator Mundi that it was painted by a right-handed artist, as illustrated below...
Then there is the orb that Jesus holds in his left hand. Most consider this to be a solid crystal orb rather than a hollow, blown glass sphere, as many other artists' versions of the Salvador Mundi illustrated. The artist painted bubbles trapped in the orb, as a solid quartz crystal would have. But many doubt that Da Vinci, who was as much a scientist as artist, would make a mistake about how the light would react when looking through such an orb. As anyone who studies optics knows, the orb would essentially become a lens, inverting the image seen through it, as Da Vinci himself illustrates in his notebooks...
Here are side-by-side images. One of the Salvator Mundi as it shows the orb, and one that I retouched in Photoshop to show how DaVinci might have properly shown the optical effect of the orb. Not how even the drape in the garment is inverted...
And as you can see from the un-retouched photo of a solid crystal orb above, the hand would not show through, as the Salvator Mundi showed Jesus' hand in the orb. Da Vinci would have known this.
I also find it curious, that there is no major film documenting the step by step restoration of the Salvator Mundi--at least, not that I can find. Typically a find of this magnitude would have an episode of PBS' NOVA documenting the science behind the discovery, analysis and restoration process. The person doing the restoration, Dianna Dwyer Modestini, is a fine artist in her own right, capable of restoration--or mimicking--the style of Da Vinci, or any other Old Master, for that matter. She worked for the Metropolitan Museum of Art until she and her husband went into the business of restoring paintings for major museums along with many private galleries. The question is, did her restoration go too far, or just far enough?
The attribute the name of Da Vinci to such a work requires lots of science and trust. In this case, who do we trust? The consortium whose interest was motivated by the potential profits? The restoration expert who has been in the business of restoring paintings for private galleries to increase their appeal--and value? The museums who will surely put together huge exhibitions based on the Mundi and sell millions of dollars in ticket fees and gift shop products?
Perhaps we'll never know for sure. For me at least, I won't be buying a T-shirt until I'm convinced...
This Halloween season I thought I'd give all my fellow Grand Voyage Italy goblins and ghouls a little scare... from the horrors of the ancient Romans: Monsters from myths, legends and pagan lore. So, pull your loved one close, get the kiddies (as long as they are beyond the age of having nightmares), pour some spiced wine, roast some chestnuts, turn the lights down low and put on some spooky music--preferably an old, scratchy opera recording.
And above all...
Sleep tight... and don't let anything bite.
The Italian tamborello is an integral part of Italian folk music with history over 2000 years old. Also called tammorra (a slightly different design) and tamburo, this hand drum (a fore-father of the tamborine) holds a prominent role is in the accompaniment of the tarantella, which is an old hopping dance allegedly related to ancient Dionysian ritual dances. The name references the hopping of the tarantula spiders during their mating dance.
As varied as the landscapes, dialects and cuisine of Italy, many variations exist in both the tarantelle and the playing techniques of the tamborello instrument. All techniques allow virtuoso triole-playing (rapid, triple strokes) by using different rotation techniques, where the hand rotates either over the horizontal or the vertical axis of the drum. This can also be accomplished by a stiff finger dragging and jittering forwards across the drum head--a very difficult technique only masters of the instrument achieve.
Traditionally, a tamborello would be made by the same artisans that made household and farm sieves. The technique used steam to bend the shape of the frame for each drum. Skins can be dog, cat, kid (goat) or even donkey. In Calabria, often the hairs are left on to give a deeper, more mellow sound. In Sicily the skins are highly refined giving a more bright, crisp sound. Many modern tamborello are made using synthetic drum heads which keep their pitch, unlike natural skins which change their pitch depending on humidity.
Even today the tamborello can be heard on every street and folk dance festival in Southern Italy. The culture and music have been passed on over the many centuries with considerable changes. Nowadays fusions of tarantella with Heavy Metal, Ancient Music, Jazz, Pop etc. are very popular.
Watch a master demonstrate some techniques...