At the Ducal Palace in Urbino, contemporary art celebrates Federico da Montefeltro, 600 years after his birth

Through Jan. 8, 2022, the Halls of the Castellare at the Ducal Palace in Urbino are celebrating Federico da Montefeltro, 600 years after his birth, with an exhibition of contemporary art, highlighting the link between art and power.

It opened on October 1 and will remain open to the public until January 8, 2023, the exhibition Art and Power. In Dialogue with Federico da Montefeltro set up in the Sale del Castellare of the Ducal Palace in Urbino. Curated by Vittorio Sgarbi, the exhibition celebrates the six hundredth anniversary of the birth of Duke Federico da Montefeltro, a great lord, condottiere and humanist. A contemporary art exhibition that aims to focus on the relationship between artists and the powerful in every field, from politics to finance to sports, to emphasize the always strong link between art and power.

The exhibition starts from the figure of Federico da Montefeltro, among the leading patrons of all times, who made Urbino the cradle and center of the Renaissance. On display are twenty-six contemporary works by Giuseppe Bergomi, Bertozzi & Casoni, Tullio Cattaneo, Giuseppe Ducrot, Marco Lodola, Igor Mitoraj, Livio Scarpella, and Ivan Theimer, prodigies of technique, virtuosity, and invention. Sculptures made on commission, public or private, to celebrate a fact or qualify a place or even to exalt individual glory.

“Just as contemporary art is celebrated everywhere in the great cities of the world, it would have seemed provincial to consider Urbino a mausoleum or memorial of a lost greatness, not understanding its condition and role as an ideal (and real) capital even in our time,” said curator Vittorio Sgarbi. “It is precisely for this reason that I wanted to propose, in the spirit of the topicality of Federico da Montefeltro’s example, the exhibition on Art and Power, avoiding the easy reference to monuments in the squares established thanks to political affiliations or the alibi of subjects of exaltation of civic values, in a predominantly rhetorical key, after the season of the celebration of Risorgimento heroes. A selection of free artists of exceptional quality, who worked under public commissions, without hiding behind cover and social commitment, but in the name of the absolute values of invention, creativity and beauty.”

The exhibition offers an opportunity to question the new models of social and economic affirmation and to verify in what forms artistic production is possible, more or less freely, vis-à-vis the commissioner. The public can admire such celebratory works in Urbino as the Mario Balotelli by Livio Scarpella, who also created the monument to Niccolò Paganini and the San Bartolomeo. Ivan Theimer’s bronze stele made in honor of Vittorio Sgarbi’s violation of the Libya embargo stands out, placed in dialogue with Igor Mitoraj’s broken bust and Tullio Cattaneo’s two sculptures for the niches in the side aisle of Noto Cathedral, the St. Matthew and St. James Major. Bertozzi & Casoni’s polychrome ceramics, on the other hand, pay homage to Arcimboldo’s Four Seasons by adding a fifth, Giuseppe Bergomi’s sculptures depict saints and allegories, and Giuseppe Ducrot is on display with a bronze St. Matthew. Finally, Marco Lodola’s galvanized sheet metal and LED sculpture with pop colors and synthesized forms, typical of his 1950s vintage style, is very bright.

“These are some still rare and remarkable examples of public commissions that contemplate together the celebratory need and the creative freedom of artists. Precisely in this spirit, of fertile and fruitful relations between art and power, in a great Renaissance city reaffirming its presence in the contemporary world, the example is repeated, in the most original and stimulating way, without commemorative rhetoric, of Federico da Montefeltro,” Sgarbi adds.

The exhibition is organized by the Municipality of Urbino, with the support and patronage of the National Committee for the celebration of the sixth centenary of Federico da Montefeltro’s birth, and the Marche Region, in collaboration with the Galleria Nazionale delle Marche. The organization is entrusted to Maggioli Cultura.

For info:

Hours: Monday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Image: Bertozzi & Casoni, Autunno (2018; polychrome ceramic)

At the Ducal Palace in Urbino, contemporary art celebrates Federico da Montefeltro, 600 years after his birth
At the Ducal Palace in Urbino, contemporary art celebrates Federico da Montefeltro, 600 years after his birth

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