In Arezzo, an exhibition investigates the relationship between Afro and the great masters of the past

The Municipal Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art in Arezzo is hosting from June 2 to October 22, 2023 the exhibition "Afro. From Meditation on Piero della Francesca to the Informal," investigating the relationship between Afro, classical-Renaissance painting and the great masters of the past.

From June 2 to October 22, 2023, the Municipal Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art in Arezzo is hosting the exhibition Afro. From Meditation on Piero della Francesca to the Informal, curated by Marco Pierini, with scientific coordination by Alessandro Sarteanesi and organized by the Fondazione Guido d’Arezzo with the City of Arezzo, in collaboration with the Fondazione Archivio Afro and Mainz.

Starting from Afro’s own statement when confronted with the works of Piero della Francesca, the exhibition aims to investigate the relationships between Afro, classical-Renaissance painting and the great masters of the past, focusing especially on the theme of mural painting, which in Afro’s production occupies a privileged position but still constitutes in many respects a previously unpublished research on the artist.

The spaces of the Municipal Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art of Arezzo, adjacent to the Church of San Francesco, where the famous cycle of the Stories of the True Cross by Piero della Francesca is kept, thus constituting the first stage and premise for Afro’s exhibition, will propose an itinerary of works belonging to one of the most interesting in the art of Afro, who considered himself a “classical painter” and who, in crossing the boundary between abstraction and figuration, reworked Venetian tonalism, the luminosity and transparencies of Tiepolo, the volumes of Mantegna, and the spatiality and impassive pictorial rationality of Piero della Francesca.

“The exhibition of Afro Basaldella, one of the protagonists of the international 20th century, is ideally connected with the great history of the city, next to Piero della Francesca’s Bacci Chapel,” said Mayor and President of the Guido di Arezzo Foundation, Alessandro Ghinelli. “The exhibition, which showcases some unpublished works of great value in the Friulian artist’s research, will be hosted in the Galleria Comunale d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, which has undergone major architectural and functional restoration work for the occasion, and will reopen to the public with a new, contemporary look, on par with the best Italian cultural institutions.”

Moving through original nuclei of research, the exhibition itinerary begins with Afro’s early drawings, belonging to the early 1930s and inspired by Rubens, El Greco, and Velázquez, and with his early paintings, among them the Dead Christ by Mantegna, one of the works from Casa Cavazzini in Udine (which also preserves an important cycle of Afro’s frescoes).

Particularly scenic is the section in the exhibition that delves into Afro’s work for the Eur works in Rome, including through videos, documents, photographs and magazines. Among the loans from the Archivio Centrale dello Stato and Eur S.p.A. are the large preparatory cartoons (each 6 meters high), representing the Sciences and the Arts, along with the valuable preparatory sketch for The Human and Social Activities, dating back to the genesis of the work that was planned by the artist for the Reception and Congress Palace of the E42 architectural complex in Rome. The preparatory cartoons in the exhibition, thanks to Mainz’s contribution with the Galleria dello Scudo in Verona, have been restored.

Also of international significance is the presence of the paintings, including the Cycle of Seasons, which arrive, from the Municipality of Rhodes, and which will be exhibited for the first time ever, thanks in part to the intercession of the Italian Embassy in Athens. Afro traveled to theisland of Rhodes with Cesare Brandi in 1938 and there created two thematically different but stylistically related decorative cycles at the Villa of the Prophet and the Grande Albergo delle Rose. Extensive archival research, together with close international collaboration between the City of Arezzo, the organizers and the Municipality of Rhodes, the Museum of Modern Greek Art in Athens and the Embassy made it possible to trace Afro’s works and show them for this occasion.

The transition to Afro’s abstract and informal language is witnessed by the Afro Archive Foundation, which, through the loan of works, sketches and documents from Paris, will also make it possible to reconstruct in the final part of the exhibition the event related to the creation of the large mural painted by Afro for the UNESCO headquarters in the French capital in 1958, which sanctions, in relation to the other works on display, a new season in the painter’s artistic research, which would develop between the 1950s and 1970s, and which is represented in the world’s greatest museums (MoMA, Guggenheim in New York, Pompidou in Paris, to name but a few), recently the subject of a specific in-depth study in the exhibition Afro 1950-70. From Italy to America and Back, curated by Elisabetta Barisoni and Edith Devaney, in Venice at Ca’ Pesaro - Galleria Internazionale d’Arte Moderna, in collaboration with Mainz.

On the occasion of the opening, a conference to present the exhibition will be held at the Municipal Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art in Arezzo on Thursday, June 1, at 6 p.m., in the presence of Mayor Alessandro Ghinelli, the director of the Guido d’Arezzo Foundation Lorenzo Cinatti, curator Marco Pierini, scientific coordinator Alessandro Sarteanesi, the Afro Archive Foundation and Mainz, as well as representatives of the Municipality of Rhodes and the lenders, Central State Archives, Casa Cavazzini, Eur S.p.A, Galleria dello Scudo.

Accompanying the exhibition is a volume in a double edition (Italian and English), published by Mainz, and edited by Marco Pierini and Alessandro Sarteanesi, with contributions by William Cortès Casarrubios, Vania Gransinigh, Francesco Innamorati, Luca Nicoletti, Marco Pierini, and a rich photographic apparatus created by Michele Alberto Sereni that will document the exhibition layout. The volume will be presented in Arezzo on June 24.

For info:

Hours: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday, Sunday and holidays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Closed Tuesdays.

Image: Afro, For the Garden of Hope (1958; mixed media on paper, 50.6 x 66.8 cm; private collection). Courtesy of Afro Archive Foundation.

In Arezzo, an exhibition investigates the relationship between Afro and the great masters of the past
In Arezzo, an exhibition investigates the relationship between Afro and the great masters of the past

Warning: the translation into English of the original Italian article was created using automatic tools. We undertake to review all articles, but we do not guarantee the total absence of inaccuracies in the translation due to the program. You can find the original by clicking on the ITA button. If you find any mistake,please contact us.