The Carrara Academy of Fine Arts and its Heritage

tue 16 JUNE 2015
A fine book edited by Lucilla Meloni for an exhibition aimed at rediscovering a cultural excellence.

Lucilla Meloni, director of  the Carrara Academy of Fine Arts has edited a fine book (published with the contribution of Carrara Savings Bank Foundation) that documents a new permanent exhibition of the Academy Heritage,which had been partly invisible or just non usablefor a long time. It hasreassembled fragmented collections of paintings from the nineteenth-century partly following the project of Adolfo Angeli, President of the Academy in the 1930s. The book contains valuable documents, books and graphic materials of the Ancient Archive and the Historical Archive of the Library, which were on display during the exhibition held in the summer of 2014. It also illustrates the restoration work carried out on some casts of Antonio Canova. The reorganisation carried out for the exhibition, which presents works ranging from the XIX Century to the 1930s, aiming at both the protection and the promotion of the Academy Heritage, focuses mainly on playing an active part in the "open-air museum" that Italy is. The essays and incredible photographs belong to the curators of the various sections of the exhibition: Anna Vittoria Laghi, Lucilla Meloni, Linda Pisani, Marco Ciampolini, Giovanna Bombarda, Ines Berti and Giuseppe Cannilla. They all deal with issues related to the Heritage: the historical reconstruction of its formation, the revision of historiographical assumptions, the discovery of new materials, the relationship between past and contemporary art.  Without forgetting that, as Lucilla Meloni pointed out: "the primary purpose of the Academy of Fine Arts is to be a school, a place of learning and production, where the knowledge of the past is inextricably linked to contemporaneity. A place, like a work of art and History of Art, the discipline that studies it, where past and present coexist."The exhibition, which has inspired the book, stems from the desire to bring to light a large number of works that are part of the Academy Heritage, which were previously “invisible” or hardly usable. The book edited by Lucilla Meloni has contributed to foster the research carried out by individual curators, art historians and teachers of the Academy and has developed into a larger and collective project leading to the new permanent exhibition of some works in the Palazzo Cybo Malaspina and to the exhibition of valuable graphic and library documents and materials. The intent is to establish a dialogue between the works that make up the Heritage itself, which over time have been displaced or even hidden, as the Heritage coincides with the history of the Academy and , in part, with the history of the town of Carrara too.Rich archival treasures have been brought to light thanks to complex research consisting in establishing the dates when some pieces were included in the collection. This is the case of the Niobidi group; revising previous historiographical assumptions (essay by L. Pisani); recovering a design by Bartolomeo Pinelli from the Ancient Archive and  connecting two letters of Lorenzo Bartolini to the creation of his Monument to Nicola Demidoff  (essay by M. Ciampolini). A further opportunity to promote the precious Library consisted in showing to the public the rare library materials, prints and books (essay by G. Bombarda) whose formation and development are described in the text by Ines Berti. Both the book and the exhibition as well as the long process of preparation made it possible to put together collections and show pieces of great value. Above all, though, they made it possible to display the restored Boxers of Canova and some statues of the Niobidi group, creating the gallery of busts of Illustrious Men that, already restored, had not yet found a suitable location as Anna Laghi explained in her essay, to turn to history and renew it.If a work of art relives whenever a  new look  touches it, crosses or caresses it, restoring it to a new life, that is to say giving it a new visibility is a valuable result that images can express better than any words. The book combines colour and black and white images and is the result of a series of photographs taken by the artist Roberto Pettena, in collaboration with Gabriele Menconi (whom we thank).The Carrara Academy of Fine Arts and its HeritageLucilla Meloni, Director of the Carrara Academy of Fine Arts.

Postmedia books, Milano 2015; Pages 160