ARTS

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TV series

Published November 23, 2014 by Tony

 

– CSI: Crime Scene Investigation –

 

Csi and its spin-off has long been the most watched TV series in the world, that premiered on CBS on October 6, 2000 for a total of 14 seasons till now.
All this thanks to the high professionalism of the production team and the skill of the actors, which I think should be quite stressed after having photographed – for such a long time –  hundreds of battered corpses and bagging their pieces.  In Csi an average of 4.8 people per episode die, so after 315 episodes and fourteen seasons, the series has on its shoulders 1512 murder victims. This seems impressive, but it’s nothing compared to 38 deaths per episode in the series “Walking Dead”. According to “New Scientist”, the care with which Csi is made, about the depiction of police technique and procedure, showed many useful information to underworld.
In recent years, during its broadcast the share has declined, for the arrival of new and most interesting TV series, probably more bloodier and impressive. We all know that sooner or later this American crime drama television series gotta end, and hope this will happen before the inexorable decline.

DISPERSION OF THE ITALIAN ARTISTIC HERITAGE

Published November 18, 2014 by Tony

ITALIAN WORKS OF ART AROUND THE WORLD

The question of the Italian artistic heritage’s dispersion is very complex.
The reason why a so large number of Italian works of art is still in many foreign countries, is due to several factors.
Primarily, because of the misappropriation of the artworks due to foreigners regnant countries, that have made the history of Italy and that have succeeded over the centuries. Then, because of the phenomenon of collecting that has existed in a systematic way for over five centuries, and especially by the fact that from the unification of Italy onwards, the dispersion of the Italian artistic heritage came in succession thru hallucinating procedures and criteria, with the complicity of shrewd antique dealers, officials government, and by compliant and inappropriate laws and rules. Last but not least, the undue subtraction and thefts that constantly have been perpetrated against the Italian artistic heritage.

Rightly, the Napoleonic plunder and the failure in giving back so many masterpieces, is always remembered in this regard, but if such dispossession make us indignant, we must also ask ourselves why in Italy came many other works that were not part of that looting (excluding those that definitely were already out of Italy before the nineteenth century). For the uninitiated, the Napoleonic thefts refer to a number of subtractions of goods, in particular works of art, made during the military conquests of Napoleon Bonaparte. The subsequent peace treaties were the legal instrument used by Napoleon to legitimize these divestitures: between the clauses he considered the artworks as a tribute to war.
In 1799, in the Kingdom of Naples, the General Jean Etienne Championnet put into effect the same policy, as shown by a letter sent to the directorate in the windy year VII (25 February 1799):
« I announce you with pleasure that we have found riches that we thought to have lost. In addition to the arts in chalk of Herculaneum, there are two equestrian statues in marble by Nonius, father and son; Callipygian Venus will not go alone to Paris, because we found in the Porcelain Factory, the superb Agrippina awaiting death; the full-size marble statues of Caligula and Marcus Aurelius, a nice Mercury in bronze, and marble busts of the greatest value, including that of Homer. The convoy will leave in a few days. »


The works stolen by the Nazis and their allies before and during the Second World War, have been millions across Europe, including books and valuable documents. In this regard, we should remember the work done by Rodolfo Siviero, a non-commissioned Carabinieri’s officer, in charge of directing a diplomatic mission to the Allied Military Government in Germany, with the aim to establish the principle of restitution of stolen works to Italy. Since the fifties, and on behalf of the Italian Government, he has dealt systematically a search of all the works of art that were stolen and exported from Italy. This intense activity, which earned him the nickname “art’s 007”, lasts until his death in 1983. During this period Siviero often denounced the lack of attention that government institutions devoted to the problem of the recovery of our artistic heritage.
Berlin 1945-1946, the Second World War is over and the Red Army occupied the city. And here begins the odyssey of many masterpieces  which were secretly taken away by the Russians. According to the calculations of some German experts, the number of works of art disappeared from Germany, at the hands of the Russians, would be about one million of pieces. But we cannot know how many of them came from Italy occupied by the Germans, when Hermann Goering ordered the depredation.

In the past, other artistic commissioners were instructed to “negotiate” the return of looted works but, among compensation, sales and prescriptions, many are no longer returned in Italy. Despite everything, I am consoled by the thought that Italian art would not enjoy such a universal reputation, if its works were not present in some of the greatest museums in the world. Louvre, British Museum, National Gallery in Washington, Metropolitan in New York, Hermitage in Petersburg, Alte Pinakotheke in Monaco of Bavaria, Prado in Madrid and the Kunst Historisches Museum in Vienna, which are visited each year by millions of people from every continent. And in each of those museums the visitor finds ‘Italy’. This “mutual advantage” is perhaps the only reason that heals our consciences.

As mentioned at the beginning, there is no country in the world that has no  Italian historical relic or masterwork on display in their museums, and albeit the largest number can be found in French and English museums, America is no exception.
Although the United States have not their own art history (being officially founded only in 1776), following an optimal and targeted plan of purchase, persisted over the centuries, they hold great examples of classical art, medieval and modern, kept in so egregious way in their museums; the legitimacy of the housing is obviously questionable, despite the sensitivity of the issue: just think of one in all,  to the Chariot of Monteleone di Spoleto now in the Metropolitan museum, illegally transported in New York from the Umbrian city  in 1902, in the same years in which Italy was formulating a law to protect the assets belonging to its National Artistic Heritage.


For Americans who read me, I would like to give a complete listing of all our works that are scattered on their territory, but a systematic and comprehensive research is impossible, and  it will give back an endless list.

I can tell you that about Michelangelo you can see the “Young Archer,” a marble sculpture of 1491, at the Metropolitan Museum in New York, and “The Torment of Saint Anthony” a tempera of 1487, at Fort Worth in Texas.
About Caravaggio you can see, “Marta e Maria Maddalena “, olio su tela  del 1598 all’ Institute of Arts a Detroit. “Sacrificio di Isacco”, olio su tela del 1603 al Princeton,  Barbara Piasecka-Johnson Collection. “San Giovanni Battista”, olio su tela del 1604 al  Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art,  Kansas. “Crocifissione di Sant’Andrea”, olio su tela del 1607 a  Cleveland Museum of Art. “Negazione di San Pietro”, olio su tela del 1609 al Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York e il “San Francesco in Estasi”, al Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art di Hartford.

The Wadsworth Atheneum has other wonderful works of Italian medieval and modern art: sifting in the section relating to his collection on the official website, it is apparent the presence of historically important paintings by Italian artists, such as Ritrovamento di Vulcano, painted  by Piero di Cosimo in 1505; the Ritratto di un uomo in armatura,  1512 by Sebastiano del Piombo; Giuditta e la serva con la testa di Oloferne, 1624, by Orazio Gentileschi; the  Veduta di Piazza San Marco, 1750 by Canaletto;  the Trojan Horse, 1773 painting by Giandomenico Tiepolo.

The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.,  has one of the finest art collections in the world.
The strongest collection is the Italian Renaissance collection, which includes two panels from Duccio’s Maesta, the great tondo of the Adoration of the Magi by Fra Angelico and Filippo Lippi, a Botticelli on the same subject, Giorgione’s Allendale Nativity, Giovanni Bellini’s The Feast of the Gods, the only Leonardo da Vinci painting in the Americas, Ginevra de’ Benci; and significant groups of works by Titian and Raphael.

In the Metropolitan Museum of Art you can admire works of Francesco Bartolozzi, Stefano della Bella,  Bartolommeo Bonghi , Guercino (Giovanni Francesco Barbieri),  Parmigianino (Girolamo Francesco M. Mazzola), Francesco Piranesi,  Giovanni Battista Piranesi,  Marcantonio Raimondi,  Raphael (Raffaello Sanzio Santi), Giovanni Giacomo De Rossi,  Antonio Tempesta,  Enea Vico, Francesco Allegrini, Piedmontese, Giuseppe Galli Bibiena,  Giovanni Battista Foggini,  Giovanni Battista Tiepolo,  The Triumph of Fame; (reverse) Impresa of the Medici Family and Arms of the Medici and Tornabuoni Families, Giovanni di ser Giovanni Guidi (called Scheggia),  San Giovanni Valdarno, Alessandro Longhi (Italian, Venice 1733–1813 Venice).
Also, you can see, The Adoration of the Shepherds by Andrea Mantegna, The Birth of the Virgin, Fra Carnevale, Bartolomeo di Giovanni Corradini,  Portrait of a Woman with a Man at a Casement, Fra Filippo Lippi, Saints Peter, Martha, Mary Magdalen, and Leonard, Correggio, Madonna and Child with Angels by Pietro di Domenico da Montepulciano, Madonna and Child with Saints by Giovanni di Paolo di Grazia,  The Entombment and Christ in the Wilderness by Moretto da Brescia, Saint Andrew by Simone, Paradise by Giovanni di Paolo di Grazia, The Adoration of the Magi by Giotto di Bondone, Saint Catherine of Alexandria by Pietro Lorenzetti, The Agony in the Garden and  Madonna and Child Enthroned with Saints by Raffaello Sanzio, Christ Crowned with Thorns by Antonello da Messina, Portrait of a Young Man by Cosimo di Domenico di Bonaventura, Madonna and Child by Vincenzo Foppa, The Flight into Egypt by Cosmè Tura, The Journey of the Magi by Stefano di Giovanni, Portrait of a Young Woman by Lorenzo di Credi, The Resurrection by Perugino, and many others anonymous Italian masterworks.

MARE D’INVERNO

Published February 22, 2014 by Tony

Il mare d’inverno”  (Winter sea)  is a song brought to success by Loredana Berte, an Italian singer. Song written by Enrico Ruggeri in 1983.

Like other Italian songs that I have proposed and tried to translate, this also seems to be a poem, a passage of a theatrical monologue. To make you better appreciate the Italian text, I add a video of the song. Hope you like it.

The winter sea is only a movie in black and white seen on TV
and inwards a few cloud from heaven is thrown down
wet sand, a letter that the wind is taking away
invisible points chased by dogs, tired parables of old seagulls
and I who am only here to look for a coffee
the winter sea is a concept that the thought doesn’t consider,
it’s not modern, something that nobody ever want
Hotels closed, posters advertising already faded,
vehicles draw furrows on roads where the summer rain does not fall
and I who can’t even talk to myself
Sea sea here is never anyone to drag me away
Sea sea here nobody ever comes to keep us company
Sea sea I can’t see you so because this wind also stirs me….
this wind also stirs me …

The cold will pass and the beach will slowly color itself
radio and newspapers and a banal music will spread
new adventures, lit nightclubs full of lies
but towards evening a strange concert and an umbrella that stays open
I dive puzzled at the moments we spent already
Sea sea here is never anyone to drag me away
Sea sea here nobody ever comes to keep us company
Sea sea I can’t see you so because this wind stirs me too …
Sea sea….

SANREMO FESTIVAL

Published February 21, 2014 by Tony

– 2014 ITALIAN SONG FESTIVAL –

New year, another Festival of Sanremo, what should be the festival of Italian song, and that has started this Wednesday.
This year very few novelties, the same presenters and in the same way: two songs proposed by each singer (big category), which are voted by the jury, and after a few seconds you already know which of the two songs continues the race. After them, some emerging singers sing on stage (new proposals category) , they sing one song only, and at the end of transmission, voting says those who must leave the race. The race lasts four days, interspersed with national and international guests.
As always, after the first installment, the audience share has fallen. And as always, each race starts a bit before nine in the evening and inevitably ends after midnight, and apart from the last installment on Saturday evening, not everyone can afford to stay in front of the TV until late at night, and for more than three hours. Each year, the usual criticisms, but nothing ever changes. Nothing against Fazio and Littizzetto, the present conductors, but the choice could involve other young artists who would give an edge to the event, that as usually sometimes become boring and repetitive. Again, only a few singers in vogue who participate. Luckily this year there are a couple of songs that, at least from the early plays, are pleasant to listen to and introduce some innovation.
At the beginning of the first installment, the scoop!
Two Neapolitans workers had climbed on scaffolding that holds the spotlight, and loudly called for the attention, threatening to throw themselves down. The company at which they work (a cooperative), is in crisis and are sixteen months all the workers have not been paid. In order for them to come down, to be taken away by security guards, Fazio has promised that he would read their letter on stage, letter in which the workers ask the help of politicians.

fabio fazio and luciana littizzetto

SINGERS

BIG
Arisa
Noemi
Giusy Ferreri
Raphel Gualazzi con i Bloody Beetroots
Cristiano De André
Frankie Hi-Nrg
Giuliano Palma
Francesco Renga
Francesco Sarcina
Renzo Rubino
Ron
Riccardo Sinigallia
Antonella Ruggiero
Perturbazione

NEW PROPOSAL
Bianca
Vadim
Veronica De Simone
Filippo Graziani
Rocco Hunt
The Niro
Zibba
Diodato

GUESTS
Letitia Casta, Yusuf, Cat Stevens, Claudio Baglioni, Raffaella Carrà, Renzo Arbore, Gino Paoli, Paolo Nutini, Franca Valeri, Enrico Brignano, Luca Parmitano, Damine Rice, Rufus Wainwright, Stromae, Luciano Ligabue.

laetitia casta

rufus wainwright

Damine Rice

MUSIC LIFE

Published December 19, 2013 by Tony

– ENZO AVITABILE –

- ENZO AVITABILE -


Celebrated to the last Art Show in Venice, “Music Life” is a documentary dedicated to Enzo Avitabile and directed by acclaimed director Jonathan Demme.
The video’s exciting images that highlight the high musical level of the musician, mixed with scenes of daily life, have been projected last week in almost all Italian movies. Through the poetic music of the Neapolitan artist, the director has created a story that follows his desire to save the world, giving to the documentary a clear political significance. In perfect communion with the sensitivity of Demme, the Avitabile’s songs, always open to contamination and differences, exhibit solidarity for the oppressed and an empathy for the margins. A video to watch.


For the uninitiated, Enzo Avitabile is a famous saxophonist, musician and songwriter from Naples, perhaps best known in Italy for the song “Soul Express”, but who has had a background in all respect. He grows in the neighborhood of Naples called Marianella, studying the saxophone, and starting to perform at 7-8 years in Americans locals of Naples, and later graduating in flute at the Conservatory of San Pietro a Majella. In 1979 his participation in the second Pino Daniele’s self-titled album, and in 1980 he gave his contribution to another important Pino Daniele’s album called “Nero a metà”. In 1982 he released his first album, “Avitabile” , which already showed his black music style, and in which one song was dedicated to the deceased friend Mario Musella (“The Showmen”‘s singer). In 1983 he released his second album, with the song “Gospel mio” sung by Richie Havens. 1986 is the year of release of one of his best-known works, “SOS Brothers”, which contains the historic “Soul Express” and “Black Out”, whose remix version won a prize in Ibiza for the best dance song of the year. In 1988 he published “Alto Voltaggio”, in which he reiterate the presence of his love for funk, with a collaboration with Afrika Bambaataa, that will bring to the creation of the album “Street Happiness”. In devising his music the singer-songwriter has never been affected by commercial logic. In 1994 he released “Easy” where he puts in music the poem ” ‘A livella” by Toto, and where in “Leave me or love me” he sang with Randy Crawford. On that time, the record company EMI saddled him with the label of “artist unmanageable”, because he refused to participate in the Festival of Sanremo. In the same year he participated to the Pistoia Blues Festival. Since 2004, his records’ covers have been signed by the anthropologist Marino Niola. In 2009 he won the Italian Targa Tenco for the best record in Neapolitan dialect, with the album “Napoletana” released the same year.

First public exhibition

Last year, in the television show “Sottovoce ” by Gigi Marzullo , Enzo said:

<< As a boy, my dreams were simple: learn to play the saxophone and meet the artists who I listened thanks to the jukebox . >>
<< The word is already music, and I like to get there with the music where the words do not come, and vice versa. There is a mantra in our Neapolitan dialect. I hope to make music but to also say something, conveying my thoughts through the music.>>
<< Naples and Marianella are the ‘Mother home’ to me, when I am back in Naples there are certain conditions, fundamental states of consciousness, which in my opinion are to be linked to certain things, because for me the (cultural) contamination is very important, but I think it is fundamental the recovery of our cultural identity. >>
<<Mine can be defined as ‘World Music’, but I wanted to borrow from the greats artists of the past the ability to move inside any form, to go over the same shape, to create new forms, which do not really have a form… this seems to be a pun, but it is a return to pure music, one that goes beyond labels.>>
<< I can define myself a loner among people, like all of us. ‘Chi nun cunosce ‘o scuro nu po’ capì a luce, nisciuno s’ape ‘a nato, ognuno è sulo’. If loneliness is introspection and constant contact with our interior, it becomes something that you live even in the tumult of everyday life, but if it becomes marginalization, it becomes a different thing. No longer a choice but a condition. >>
<< I am a street intellectual and I like if the street generates intellectuals. I am a man of everyday, but a thinking being. >>
<< The music joins and saved the world. So many times, like John Lennon, Jim Hendrix, James Brown, Bob Marley, Giovanni Pergolesi or Stravinsky have did. >>

 together Pino Daniele

The last Avitabile’s record, released last year, is titled “Black Tarantella”, which like the previous one has won the Targa Tenco, while the song “Gerardo nuvola ‘e Povere”, won the Amnesty Award Italy. As he says, is a particular recording that gets nothing to do with the words Black or Tarantella, but wants to be a tribute to the allegorical synonymy of recent years. Tarantella is the symbol of the Made in Italy, our original sound of the south, but we Neapolitans use this term to also mean something different, as we sometimes use the term black (meaning a lack of a way out) to indicate a hope, a chance. With this record I wanted to simply explore the double meaning of words and music.

together James Brown

together Tina Turner

togehter Africa Bambaataa

(Meeting with Africa Bambaataa in the Bronx, then they came to Marianella and together they made a video for the district Scampia)

ITALIAN CRIB

Published December 2, 2013 by Tony

NEAPOLITAN CRECHE

The word “presepe” or “presepio” (crib) comes from the Latin verb “praesepire” which means “fencing with hedge.” A term used only in Italy (and in Hungary) because it was introduced in Naples in the fourteenth century, when one Anjou’s descendant became king. The tradition, mainly Italian, can be dated back to St. Francesco of Assisi who, in 1223 in Greccio, created the first living representation of the Nativity. His representation cannot be considered a crib as we currently consider it, because it was just a cave with two real animals on the sides of a trough with straw.
Statues in Basilica of Santo Stefano -  photo by  Giovanni Lattanzi www.giovannilattanzi.itThe first example of carved nativity scene is preserved in the Basilica of Santo Stefano (in Bologna), the oldest known nativity scene in the world that consists of the thirteenth century’s statues by an anonymous sculptor from Bologna.
Soon this kind of symbolism was widely understood at all levels, especially within families, where the representation of Jesus’ birth, with statuettes and elements taken from the wild, became a rite.
In the fifteenth century it became common practice to place big statues in the churches,  tradition that also spread throughout the sixteenth century. Some of these ancient statues have survived, despite many thefts, and are still on display during Christmastime.
The use of the crib started to spread in the nobles houses in the form of  knick-knacks or real chapels, although the great development of carved crèches occurred in the eighteenth century, through three different and great traditions: Neapolitan cribs, cribs from Genoa and from Bologna. In the eighteenth century, in Naples even began a competition between families over who had the most beautiful and gorgeous crib: the nobles used a whole room for represent the nativity, with statues dressed with precious fabrics and jewelry.
Although among the various Italian regions, the crib diversified for cultural reasons, from these perspective, the Italian crib’s art only differentiates for different products and materials used to recreate the nativity. Traditionally, the crib in Genova was made with wood, with papier-mâché in Puglia, while in Sicily some typical products are added, like branches of orange and mandarin, and different materials such as coral, pearl and alabaster.
The Neapolitan crib  was characterized by statuettes made with terracotta, with the use of cork to recreate the setting. Later in time, the use of clay was reduced as a result of the overwhelming success of plastic figurines, which provided large scale production at a lower price.
CiccibaccoThe Neapolitan crib scene added other popular and anachronistic characters, such as taverns, street traders and typical rural houses. Sometimes these characters are symbolic,  such as for example the tavern represented “the bad”, and the character of “Ciccibacco”, who brings barrels with wine,  represented the “devil”.
The Neapolitan crib art has remained unchanged for centuries, becoming part of the Neapolitan Christmas traditions. Famous in Naples is “San Gregorio Armeno” street,  that offers a showcase of all the local cribs crafts. In addition, there are many museums (like San Martino Museum or the Royal Palace of Caserta), where
San Martino Museum historical or very old pieces are exposed.
The first nativity scene in Naples is mentioned in a document that talks about a nativity scene in the Church of St. Maria ‘s crib in 1025 . In Amalfi, according Particular of the crib in Royal Palace of Casertato various sources, already in 1324 there was a “crib’s chapel” in  Alagni’s house.
In 1340 Queen Sancha of Aragon (wife of Robert of Anjou) gave to the Poor Clares a crib for their new church, and today only a statue remains, visible in the museum of St. Martin. Other examples date back to 1478, with a crib of Pietro and Giovanni Alemanno of which we have received twelve statues, and the crib in marble of 1475 by Antonio Rossellino, visible in Sant’Anna dei Lombardi church . One of the clearest examples of Neapolitan crib is given by manufacturing clay with pieces dating back to the eighteenth century, exposed in the EllipticGiuseppe Sammartino's crib room of the Royal Palace in Caserta. In the eighteenth century, the Neapolitan nativity scene experienced its golden age, when from the churches, where it was a religious object of devotion, the crib became a tradition in each aristocrat’s house. Giuseppe Sammartino, perhaps the greatest Neapolitan sculptor of the eighteenth century, a skilled artist for terracotta figures, gave rise to the first school for cribs.
In 1787, Goethe describes the crib in his Italian Journey to Italy.

“That’s the time to talk about another entertainment that is characteristic of the Neapolitans, the crib […] they build a small stage, hut shaped, all adorned with trees and small evergreen trees , and there they put the Lady, the Child Jesus and all the characters, including those that hover in the air, sumptuously dressed for the festivity […] . But what gives the whole show a note of incomparable grace is the background in which the Vesuvius frames itself with its surroundings. »

Although Jesus was a poor family’s son, with our cribs, it is as if for we scarabattoloNeapolitans Jesus’ birth happens in a Naples’ street, in a narrow and dark alley, among taverns and bassi, where poverty reigns. The crib can be made by poor people too, with papier-mâché or bark, twigs and a few plastic small statuettes. Until a few decades ago, only a few people  decorated a tree for Christmas, considered more a cold symbol of northern traditions, and it was said that once you had prepared a crib, you had to adorn and show it every year to avoid a bad luck!
Our cribs, as a symbol of equality, became the ransom of a miserable existence. It conveys joy and sweetness, and gives faith to even those who have little.
Once, it was the custom to visit relatives and friends to see their new crib; cribs that although simple and cheap, many families did not throw away, but kept close in a glass or wood’s container called “scarabattola” (Neapolitan term not translatable). Thanks to these containers, we today can admire old cribs that, centuries later, have got a historical and artistic value.