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Mart Rovereto opens Antonello da Messina exhibition

Mart Rovereto presents Antonello da Messina an exhibition on view 5 October 2013–12 January 2014.

Antonello da Messina, Ritratto d’uomo (Portrait of a man), ca. 1475. Oil on board, 30 x 24 cm. Courtesy Galleria Borghese, Rome.
Antonello da Messina, Ritratto d’uomo (Portrait of a man), ca. 1475. Oil on board, 30 x 24 cm. Courtesy Galleria Borghese, Rome.
The Mart, Museo di arte moderna e contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto, the Sicily Region, and the publishing house Electa, Milan, present an exhibition dedicated to Antonello da Messina, under the patronage of the MiBAC, Ministero dei beni e delle attività culturali.

The exhibition, curated by Ferdinando Bologna and Federico De Melis (with the assistance of Maria Calì and Simone Facchinetti), offers a complex investigation and an original overview of the artist of the fifteenth century and his times, through the study of the art-historical links and airing of controversies that remain open to this day, proposed here as points of strength through which to explore new avenues in critical interpretation.

This interpretation of Antonello da Messina offers not only insights into chronological details, an analysis of his collaborations, similarities and differences, imitators and masters, but concentrates also on a profound study of the poetic intelligence of a “more-than-human” artist, as his son Jacobello defined him.

The exhibition has been made possible thanks to precious and generous collaborations with leading national and international institutions like the museums of the Sicily Region, the Galleria Borghese in Rome, the Musei Civici di Venezia, the Fundación Colección Thyssen Bornemisza of Madrid, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Metropolitan Museum of New York. The National Gallery of Washington, for example, will be depriving itself of two major works from its permanent collection for the entire duration of the exhibition in Rovereto.

From 5 October 2013 to 12 January 2014, the exhibition at the Mart di Rovereto aims to reconstruct the broad historical and geographical setting from which emerges the exceptional individuality of Antonello: a painter who, in the mid-Quattrocento, became the leading exponent of a creative Mediterranean and European ferment based on the meeting and confrontation between the Flemish and Italian cultures. A multiplicity of experiences—from Naples to Spain, from Provence to Flanders, from Urbino to Venice—made of Antonello a protagonist of international breadth who can only be pigeonholed in an art-historical niche without geographical limits.

In this sense, the exhibition aims to establish some clear figurative references thanks to wide-ranging comparisons that involve other protagonists, from Colantonio to Fouquet, to Van Eyck, from Bellini and Alvise Vivarini to more obscure yet accomplished artists such as Antonio da Fabriano, Zanetto Bugatto, or the Maestro di San Giovanni da Capestrano, identified as Giovanni di Bartolomeo dall’Aquila. The aim is to revive and indeed underscore the special character of Antonello’s œuvre, which some recent interpretations have thrust into the background: curators now tend towards stressing the influence of Piero della Francesca on Antonello’s painting, a thesis already posited by Roberto Longhi in 1914. The influence of this investigation proceeds in “layers”—and this is the new feature—throughout the entire artistic career of Antonello, in accordance with methods that are each time different and functional to the expressive requirements of the moment.

The Antonello da Messina exhibition will be accompanied by a programme of collateral events to explore further and round off the cultural proposal. In particular, on Friday 18 October, the Mart will host a lectio magistralis by David Alan Brown, curator of the Department of Italian Painting at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, who, confirming the clear importance of Antonello da Messina in Renaissance portraiture, and re-examining the famous “male portraits,” will highlight the problems concerning the originality of Antonello’s works compared with those of others of the same period.

Mart Rovereto
Corso Bettini, 43
38068 Rovereto (TN)
Hours: Tuesday–Sunday 10am–6pm;
Friday 10am–9pm
T +800 397760
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