March 2nd, 2009

Printperson divina


On Friday, Geesepalace and I went to see the Giorgio Morandi exhibition at MAMBo, the Museum of Modern Art of Bologna. This was the same show (possibly bigger, with some different loans) that had been at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, but I was not able to get to New York to see it there. The show was terrific and it was a real pleasure to spend hours looking at the works - mostly paintings, and just a few etchings, watercolors, drawings. The installation was restrained, and on a Friday morning we had no competition looking at the works in the show. I was interested the curatorial choices that were made, such as the decision to downplay Morandi as a Metaphysical painter around 1918. I haven't read the catalogue yet, but will. I have had Morandi in my life for a long time. In 1981, I wrote the essay on Morandi's etchings for the exhibition catalogue for the Des Moines Art Center's exhibition of over 120 paintings, drawings, watercolors, and etchings, organized by Jim Demetrion. (The Met's publicity machine completely ignored our groundbreaking show, which was also at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and at the Guggenheim Museum in New York). A few years later, I participated in a symposium in Bologna and published another essay on his prints. I bought a major Morandi etching for the Des Moines Art Center's collection too. I've spent a fair amount of time in Bologna over the years and enjoy walking around, with all the portico-lined streets. After MAMBo, we ate a disappointing lunch (what a waste of coming to Bologna! but our fault in choice of place), then walked to the Pinacoteca Nazionale and looked at 14th- to 17th-century paintings before returning to the train station to travel on further south. While waiting for our train to depart, I looked out the window and made this drawing.
Printperson divina

Festa della Polenta, Vernio

Vernio's Festa della Polenta commemorates an event in the early 16th century. After the Spanish invasion and sacking of Vernio in the Val Bisenzio, north of Prato in Tuscany, the Counts Bardi distributed chestnut flour, baccala and herrings to the starving people. Amazingly, the re-enactment of this event, on the first Sunday of Lent, has been going on for a long time, for yesterday's festa was the 433rd celebration. We were invited back to Vernio and Montepiano for the celebration by our friends Daniela and Andrea, and by our new friend, mayor Paolo Cecconi. Unfortunately, the parade was rained out. Over 700 costumed "figuranti" had come from all over Tuscany, including the calcio storico teams from Florence, but only a token number from each of the marching teams could fit into the Oratorio of San Nicolo, where the celebration was held. I drew while we were waiting for the event to begin, and as the marchers came in and crammed the hall. Still, it was glorious with all the medieval costumes,flags, banners, feathers, with noise of drums and trumpets, and the reading of the pergamena with the original text of the donation of food.

We ate chestnut polenta, cooked in seven large copper cauldrons over open fires, stirred with giant wooden sticks, by strong men of the Compagnia della Miseria. Went to a wonderful midday banquet - crostini, pasta, roast meats, beans, zuccherini, vin santo, and lots of Chianti red. We walked around trying to keep warm and dry, looked at things for sale. Finally, we warmed up with tea in a bar/pizzeria called Lo Sceriffo (the sheriff), then took a standing room only local train to Bologna, and finally, a pretty decent train back home to Venice.