AwardsExceptional Quality, Italian Government
CreditsDirector: P Schivazap
Catalog number # 640
11 minutes Color
Age Range: 12 to Adult
Closed Captions and Interactive Transcript
Filmscape Adobe Flash Required. See more
48hr Streaming Access
Loading the player...
Titanic monsters invaded a city, modern monsters of bronze, stone, and steel, obscure heroes who appeared to have been struck down by lightning, like the Apostle on the road to Damascus. In lofty Spoleto, the old Lombard capital, modern sculptures reared their silhouettes on street and square, even to the great Romanesque cathedral. New soldiers of fortune, the Riders of Marino Marini guarded the old square. In blind alleys, Venuses less modest than those of ancient Greece paused mysteriously in the night.
The medieval town had donned a mantle of statues. The noble old city of the Dukes was all dressed up, as for a Renaissance ball. But this time, the sculptors elected for this unusual flamboyance were not Donatello, Verocchio, or Cellini. On ancient walls, baroque fountains, narrow, winding streets, and steep stairways, other artists. Laurens, Perez, Germaine Richier, sculptors born of our own anguished age have placed their own heroes: disabled heroes of a civilization in which barbarism and refinement meet in the subtlest of blends. In the harmonious serenity of ancient architecture, the "Cardinals" of Giacomo Manzu rediscover long-forgotten classical dimensions. The gilt-edged sheen of the bronzes blend with the gold of the sunlight on the stone. The Umbrian city wears a solemn diadem of resplendent metals.
When night fell, the bronze shapes suggest a lingering after-glow of daylight in a dark petrified forest. The city is never really asleep, with these strange guardians watching over it. They remained here for a single season, but for those who dwell in Spoleto it was an unforgettable season.
Life goes on as usual, with its round of everyday chores, alongside the stream of visitors for the Festival of the Two Worlds. Yet, any time he looks up from his work, the Spoletan is reminded that the infernal specters fashioned by a sculptor from the faraway British Isles have indeed changed the face of his town. The winged figures of Lynn Chadwick have flown in like hawks, daring at last to alight on a silent and secluded square of this old Umbrian town, and to pose here like sibylline figures from another world. Sculptors from every land on Earth had sent their creations to this exceptional gathering. Some of them had cast their works specially for the occasion in modern forges.
The ambiguous "Black Widow" of Alexander Calder seemed to accentuate its mocking spider's sneer by pointing its venomous darts at the honey-colored stones of the Fourteenth-Century church. The modern American sculptor also built a very tall iron gate for the exhibition and the city. He chose to baptize it "The Odelapius" after a Duke of Lombardy who lived in the Seventh Century. And today, when you arrive in Spoleto and come out of the station, you pass under the daring modern sculpture as you would pass under a great Gothic arch, for here past and present are intimately mingled. This was in fact the basic idea behind this "Sculptures in the City" show: to lend human proportions to modern works of Art, to associate them with Life itself, to insert them into our very living space, to make them take part in the throbbing rhythm that pervades a city, its people, animals, things, and its sky to match them with the ancient blocks of stone, the facades of the houses, the church steeples, the quiet gardens, the ruins, the arches, the towers, the age-old mosaics and frescoes. Where bustling activity was the rule, the sculptures assumed even more fantastic aspects, bordering on the unreal. The "Dialogue with the Wind" by Pietro Consagra, on the Market Place, was like some modern icon placed there to be worshipped by the population. And as the people passed by, they viewed it as a familiar landmark, like the baroque fountain which had always been there.
A few sculptors who had been commissioned to execute works of major proportions in the forges either created milestone-columns, as did Arnaldo Pomodoro, or spirals which were ingenious traffic dividers, as did Ettore Colla who applied an extraordinary sense of architectural mathematics, or gleaming trees of steel, as did Nino Franchina. All this had been inserted into the time-mellowed setting, yet appeared to have always been part of it. Spoleto is a secret city, made of stone and sunlight. Here, Life is forever reborn with each new season. Over the steep streets, the silence is broken only by the shouts of the children. The perennial tranquility of Spoleto enveloped its sculptures, the works of Viani or Leoncillo, making of them mute witnesses of Life as it flowed on. On the walls, where "all is now silent", the nocturnal ghosts of Mirke had come to rest, like returning echoes of battles with Moors and Numidians. Bronze and stone figures have sprouted from Cyclopean masses, on these stern old ramparts built by the Umbians and Etruscans. Stone stands against stone, bridging a long interval of two thousand years and more. But one day the excruciating cry of modern art, which has changed the shape and the very image of Man, was to return whence it had come, taking with it these remote echoes from the past. At dawn, these great monsters alone awaken on the deserted square. At the top of the steps stood a lone sentinel, this winding sculpture by Arp, looking as though it had grown there like some impenetrable flower. Alongside the cathedral, this recumbent figure by Henry Moore, wrapped in moss-like green, as though it had just alighted from the nearby woods of Monteluck, awoke from its long sylvan slumber and proudly faced the murky sky.
The myth of Man's image had come from far back in time. From the enigmatic effigies of the dead on the sarcophagi of the Ancient Etruscans. In Spoleto, the tragedy of the Modern Artist had for one full season rubbed elbows with the Humanism of yore.
Fully interactive transcript included with film purchase.
Remember to explore
included with your purchase.
Click image to activate Filmscape