Gio Ponti and me, once upon a time…

Once upon a time, many moons ago, I worked in a Gio Ponti building.  I loved being in that great building (Denver Art Museum).

So when I came across this cool pic of Ponti in Milano, I thought, it’s about time I said something about him.

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Celebrating the Milano Design Week with a picture of Gio Ponti at the top of the Grattacielo Pirelli (Milan-1959).
(c)Archivio Gio Ponti

Fra Fillipo Lippi fresco cycle in Prato duomo; Prato cathedral Part 2

Late last week I had the great pleasure of visiting Prato with a new friend who was born and raised there.  There is nothing like visiting a lovely small Italian town with someone who knows their way around.  My friend showed me things I would have found on my own!

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I wrote a post on the Duomo of Prato, where I discussed the architecture and sculpture.  The Duomo is such a rich repository of masterworks that it needs several posts.  Today I will deal only with the Far Fillips Lippi frescoes created between 1452-66.

Let’s start with this basic premise: these paintings are gorgeous and in excellent condition!  I have waited an art historian’s lifetime to see them and they did to disappoint.

This is the apse end of the basilica in all of its glory.  The Far Fillipo Lippi frescoes are in the chapel in the center:

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These frescoes show the master, Fra Filippo Lippi, at his finest. They were produced slowly and sporadically between 1452 and 1466.

The enormous scale of the choir, and consequently the painted subjects, were a far cry from the intimacy of the Brancacci Chapel.  The cycle has been restored recently, revealing powerful yet sensitive images produced with verve and facility during a late period in Lippi’s development.

The Prato frescoes were both an artistic and a physical challenge for the aging painter, and, particularly in the large scenes on either side of the choir with stories of St John the Baptist and St Stephen, scholars believe that a significant share of the execution may be attributed to workshop assistants.

Below: View of the chapel filled with the fresco cycle

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South Wall

Below: overview of the right (south) wall of the main chapel

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Beginning at top, coming down, we begin with “The Birth and Naming St John”

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The Birth and Naming St John (detail)

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The 2nd fresco down from the top: “St. John Taking Leave of His Parents”

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St. John Taking Leave of his Parents (detail)

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St. John Taking Leave of His Parents (detail)

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Third scene down from the top: Herod’s Banquet

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Herod’s Banquet (detail)

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Herod’s Banquet (detail)

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Herod’s Banquet (detail)

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Herod’s Banquet (detail)

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Herod’s Banquet (detail)

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The Beheading of John the Baptist, scene to the far left of the main fresco

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North Wall:

View of the left (north) wall of the main chapel

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Beginning at top of fresco on North wall: St Stephen is Born and Replaced by Another Child

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St Stephen is Born and Replaced by Another Child (detail)

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St Stephen is Born and Replaced by Another Child (detail)

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2nd Fresco down from top, The Disputation in the Synagogue

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The Disputation in the Synagogue (detail)

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The Disputation in the Synagogue (detail)

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The Disputation in the Synagogue (detail)

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The  Disputation in the Synagogue (detail)

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Third fresco down from the top: The Funeral of St Stephen

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The Funeral of St Stephen (detail)

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The Funeral of St Stephen (detail)

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The Funeral of St Stephen (detail)

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The Funeral of St Stephen (detail)

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The Funeral of St Stephen (detail)

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Scene to the far right of the main fresco: The Martyrdom of St Stephen

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St Alberto of Trapani

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St Alberto of Trapani

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Allora, I have shown you the main paintings within this fresco cycle and explained the location.  Now let me simply share the pictures I took with my phone.  My phone was never pointed at anything more beautiful…and that is saying something!

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Vasari Corridor, Uffizi, Florence

It was recently announced that the Vasari Corridor will open again in 2021.  Until then, and for those who have never seen this great hallway filled with self-portraits of hundreds of artists, here is a great video that takes you through the entire corridor in a very fast pace.

 

Also, see here:

https://firenze.repubblica.it/tempo-libero/articoli/cultura/2019/02/18/news/firenze_il_corridoio_vasariano_riaprira_nel_2021_schmidt_-219437766/?fbclid=IwAR2T_oKK3hiUb6tw_BQdl76o0sKSYeyXyiUx8qgqL3Fg-HgfU1T3tVGmFIo

A short note on Pietrasanta and the artist Romano Cosci

Yesterday I had the chance to see the Carnevale parade in Pietrasanta.  I want to add a short note on the town itself.

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Above and below are picture of Pietrosanta’s duomo.  A service was ongoing when I stopped inside.  It is actually a pretty rare event that I find a service going on in the many churches I visit throughout this country. Who’d a thunk it?

It was nice to observe.  And, il duomo is quite wonderful, filled with interesting paintings and sculptures.

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As ever, the simple local bars serve cappuccino to die for.  Starbucks, eat your heart out.

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The deconsecrated church of Sant’ Agostino today serves Pietrasanta and environs as a beautiful exhibition space for local artists.  I first had the pleasure of joining my dear friend, Grayce Murabito and her friend, the actor Eddie Albert (was in Roman Holiday), in viewing an exhibition there about 35 years ago.  I hadn’t been back until yesterday.  Somewhere I have photos of lovely Grayce standing in front of the sign advertising the exhibition of her husband’s works: the painter and sculptor, Rosario Murabito.

(The church itself is fascinating: Built in the 14th century, it was annexed to the convent and the ospedale dei Mercanti. The façade recalls architectural and sculptural decoration of the Cathedral of San Martino di Lucca. There are numerous tombstones on the floor and sections of fresco cycles from the 14th-15th centuries. The former church was deconsecrated before the mid 1980s, and has subsequently been used for temporary exhibitions, especially in the summer months. For information you can contact the “Russo” cultural center, in via sant’Agostino 1, call 0584.795500 or visit the website http://www.museodeibozzetti.it. See also www.comune.pietrasanta.lu.it and official page http://www.facebook.com/comunedi.pietrasanta?fref=ts )

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Romano Cosci, painter and sculptor, was born near Lucca in 1939. He was trained in the fifties in the stimulating atmosphere of the sculpture workshops and the art foundries of Pietrasanta (where he worked and lived) under the guidance of artists – prestigious artisans like Leonida Parma and Ferruccio Vezzoni and had as a teacher and friend Pietro Annigoni. Until 1986 he taught pictorial disciplines in the artistic high schools of Carrara and Grosseto. His work, with equal parts of talent and poetry, make use of an extraordinary range of expressive media, passing through fresco, marble, bronze, terracotta, mosaic and every other kind of 2-d design.  He died in 2014.

 

 

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A couple other views of lovely Pietrasanta:

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Inside Brunelleschi’s dome, Florence

Last month found me climbing the millions of steps to the top of the Florence cathedral dome.  Wow, what a hike and what an incredible view from the top!

One of the many treats of that worthwhile climb is the opportunity to see the Vasari frescoes of the Last Judgement, that adorns the interior of Brunelleschi’s magnificently engineered dome.  This post is dedicated to the Vasari paintings.

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