It’s not easy keeping up with him what with his artistic notions, exchanges of smiles and fans stopping him in the street.
He’s actually an elegant and entertaining conversationalist despite his perennial air of being pissed off.
by Massimo Zangarelli
«It’s all lies; nonsense. You can move anything and it makes sense that these exciting temporary loans are made in order to revive the spirit of the place and of the times, as it’s now unthinkable to empty museums and take the works back to where they were created… what Napoleon has done is done…».
Could Palazzo Vitelli in Sant’Egidio, (acquired by the Caricast Foundation), enhance the renaissance character of the town?
«Wonderful, with frescoes influenced by Vasari, Prospero Fontana was in fact the most Tuscan of the Emilian artists. The Foundation has acted like the one in Perugia in that this immensely valuable piece has been given back to the town. Instead of having a contemporary art centre I envision a repository of classic art which would in turn become a tourist attraction».
As part of the town’s resources, do you think the Burri Museums should be promoted differently?
«I had a wonderful relationship with Burri, maybe due to our particular characters. His idea was perfect; Città di Castello has the most important museum in the world dedicated to a single artist… I know of the complicated affairs of the Foundation which has so far done more to preserve than to promote… of course it would take a less bureaucratic administration, a more imaginative one , such as the Americans have. If you think about it, the museum that works best in Italy is the private Guggenheim Museum in Venice… and to think that you could do it all with Burri, maybe even an annual juxtaposition with the greats of the twentieth century, from Miro and Picasso, to Pollock and Rothko».
Here we go again, you and your issue with contemporary art?
«People say I hate it but it’s not true. The good thing about it is that you can get through a gallery quickly, where as in the museums of classical art you should stop and look and dwell on the details. In fact, Manzoni with his “Cans of Artist’s Shit” valued at € 400,000 each, shows us that contemporary art is often crap… but in reality I hate the cliques of critics that have their favourites which means that many of today’s artists are excluded and destined for indifference».
If the Government were to ask you for a plan to factor in our cultural heritage to economic development?
«I’ve already prepared a project which specifically deals with this which I’ve called ‘Treasures of the economy’. Money is required but you can’t skimp when it comes to beauty. In Italy there’s so much art, maybe even too much, but if we don’t take advantage of it there’ll be no economic return on it».
Would you like museums to be more ‘alive’?
«Open in the morning for students, tourists booked in and then for the museums to become living spaces where you can eat and chat from six in the evening until late at night, which would then mean they would become self-financing».
You are proof that communication helps culture…
«Tried, tested and failed! For example the TV and newspapers haven’t stopped talking about when I was the mayor of Salemi. There they dissolved the city council due to its collusion with the mafia, only for it to be discovered that the person behind this dissolution is under investigation for affiliation with the N‘drangheta!» [One of the various mafia organizations!]
There’s going to be a big exhibition of Rosso Fiorentino and Pontormo’s works in Florence, but rather than promote this you’re appealing to people to come and admire the work of Fiorentino that can be found in the cathedral’s museum in Citta di Castello?
«I repeat: it’s really important to come and see this absolute masterpiece along with all the other wonders of this town».