Giotto and the Twentieth Century

from an idea by Vittorio Sgarbi. Curated by Alessandra Tiddia.
6 December 2022 - 1 May 2023
Mart - Museo di arte moderna e contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto
Corso Bettini, 43 - 38068 Rovereto TN

“When I see Giotto’s frescoes […] I immediately perceive the feeling that emerges, because it is in the lines, the composition, the colour”.
(Henri Matisse)

The exhibition presents 200 works, of which about fifty from the museum’s own collection, by modern and contemporary artists inspired by the art of Giotto, the master who revolutionised medieval painting and, according to art historians, ushered in the modern era.

The exhibition is divided into seven sections and opens with a large, immersive installation reproducing the Scrovegni Chapel in Padova. It follows a chronological and thematic order through works by leading artists of the 20th and 21st centuries who share a fascination with Giotto, whom they studied, imitated, or took as a model of perfection and spirituality. Between Metaphysics, Valori Plastici and Magic Realism, the protagonists of the first part of the exhibition are Carlo Carrà, Mario Sironi, Arturo Martini, Giorgio de Chirico, Gino Severini, Massimo Campigli, Achille Funi, and Ubaldo Oppi.

The exhibition continues with “Rural Atmospheres and Sacred Maternity”, where pastoral subjects and female figures recall and idealise tradition in a way that is typical of the period between the two great wars.

The most recent art is as indebted to the medieval lesson as that of the early 20th century. European artists Henri Matisse, Yves Klein and Josef Albers, as well as American ones such as Mark Rotko, recognise Giotto as an utter inspiration. His famous blue, in particular, has influenced some of the best known artists. The layered imagery inherent in the study of art history recognises in Giotto’s work an abstract modernity that relives, for example, in the large immersive installation by James Turrell, a contemporary master of light and colour and a scholar of perception. The exhibition closes with installations by two artists, Chiara Dynys and Tacita Dean, whose work once again revives the dialogue with one of the greatest masters of all time.