Milan, M77 gallery showcases Tano Festa: 100 works from 1960 to 1987

From January 17 to March 18, 2023, Milan's M77 Gallery remembers one of the great Italian masters of the 20th century, Tano Festa, with an exhibition that traces, through 100 works, his career from 1960 to 1987.

From January 17 to March 18, 2023, the exhibition Tano Festa: an original artist, curated by Francesca Alfano Miglietti, with the collaboration of theTano Festa Archive directed by Anita Festa for technical-scientific advice, will be open to the public in Milan at M77 Gallery. In 1993, on the occasion of the Venice Biennale, Francesca Alfano Miglietti curated a major exhibition of Tano Festa in the section Fratelli. To organize with the same curator an exhibition of the artist in Milan, exactly thirty years later, is therefore a fascinating and challenging project. The exhibition, which counts important loans from the Olnick Spanu Collection in New York, the Jacorossi Foundation in Rome, Galleria Il Ponte in Florence, Galleria La Nica in Rome, and Galleria Marchetti in Rome, brings together about 100 works by the artist, created between 1960 and 1987.

On display are paintings and drawings from different periods--paintings, superimpositions, photographic collages, doors, windows, shutters, cabinets, mirrors, pianos and obelisks--that underscore the power of Tano Festa, author of asophisticated and estranging artistic operation, to the point of highlighting his avowed admiration for the atmospheres and painting of De Chirico, his love for Rome as the eternal city, his attention to the masters of color and confetti. Able to dialogue with different eras and styles, explicitly referring to images and codified iconographic elements, in a kind of visual narrative in which painting can only arise from painting itself, Tano Festa chooses to be an original artist and not simply original.

As Francesca Alfano Miglietti writes in the catalog, "One of the salient characteristics of Tano Festa is his attraction to the sky, a blue sky furrowed by white clouds that distinguishes many of his works. The sky is a kind of poetic manifesto for Tano Festa because, like his painting, it is constantly changing and compels the gaze upward. As early as 1965, the year of his first trip to New York, he made a series of skies. Tano Festa’s sky becomes more and more dynamic, divided into squares, crossed by stripes and balls. There are many titles referring to the sky, The dimensions of the sky, Trichromy of the sky, Bichromy of the sky, Big cloud, Mechanical sky, New York sky, and then Wardrobe with sky, A sky only for souls, The Sky(Heavenly monument for the death of a poet - dedicated to Francesco Lo Savio, A sky only for Anna... Blue backgrounds and sunny rays, a hymn to serenity, sought throughout life."

“Art is plagiarism,” the artist provocatively stated, creating his own uniqueness precisely through the works of art that preceded him. Tano Festa creates his own very personal form of figuration, in an unprecedented revisiting of the classic, not only of painting, but also of poetry and literature, always choosing visionary and dreamlike images. Constant was his interest in the written word and in authors of verse, such as Sandro Penna: it is said that in 1955 Festa gave poems to passers-by on the Spanish Steps. As early as 1960 Festa abandoned informal gestures and made his first monochrome paintings, often choosing the color red furrowed by strips of paper, soaked in the same color: a red that recalls an organic matter such as blood, but also the light used in the darkroom at the photographic impression stage.

Strongly aware of the greatness of the Italian artistic tradition, Tano Festa from the mid-1960s began to create works in which photographic excerpts of the Sistine Chapel or the Medici Tombs appear, made with enamel paint on emulsified canvases, suggesting how, for an Italian artist, the’image of a commodity may not be an interesting icon, but it is Italian art itself that is ’popular,’ thanks to those same images reproduced hundreds of times on millions of T-shirts, bags, umbrellas, postcards, calendars, etc.

In New York, in 1967, in a studio at the Chelsea Hotel, Festa painted only images from Michelangelo, especially from theAurora of the Medici Tombs, titling all the works: Michelangelo according to Tano Festa. In the early 1970s, the figures, which are still images of the art of the past, are projected onto the canvas, but re-presented in a more fragmentary way, until, at times, they almost completely lose their connection to the source work. Along with these canvases, Festa develops a type of composition in which the name of a nineteenth-century painter stands out, sometimes with the date of his birth and death, as if it were a tombstone: 1971’s William Turner, or the cycle of works entitled Homage to Color, in which the words, “Manet,” “Cezanne” stand out.

After the Piazze d’Italia series, inspired by De Chirico, in the 1980s he made the Coriandoli series, in which he threw bits of paper onto a canvas impregnated with pictorial matter, and the series of works in which he chose a figuration that rereads Munch, Bacon and Matisse.

The exhibition also displays works on paper, which trace the complexity of his vision of art, never banal and repetitive, but full of mystery and intimate annotations. A catalog of the works on display will be produced for the exhibition, with a critical text by Francesca Alfano Miglietti, and various testimonies from the period, with the collaboration of the Tano Festa Archive directed by Anita Festa for technical-scientific advice. For all information, you can call +39 02 84571243 or send an email to

Milan, M77 gallery showcases Tano Festa: 100 works from 1960 to 1987
Milan, M77 gallery showcases Tano Festa: 100 works from 1960 to 1987

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