Praestigium Italia

Imago Mundi

Contemporary Artists from Italy

“Those who know Italy and do not adore, it have no good sense.” This fine line by Vincenzo Monti is buried in the long and embarrassing poem ‘The Bard of the Black Forest’, which the poet composed in 1806 in honor of Napoleon and which Ugo Foscolo labeled ‘puerile’. It is surprising how Monti’s characterization, isolated from its context, has acquired in these difficult times a clear modern relevance: a favorite pastime of Italians is to see only the shortcomings of their country, ignoring its infinite merits. Imago Mundi refutes this predictable pessimism and returns to the fact that Italy owes much of its prestige to art. This is why it gave the name Praestigium to the collection of 420 works in the customary small 10x12 cm format, dedicated to the contemporary artists of the peninsula.

Enrico Ghinato - Il Duomo (2014)

Luciano Benetton, founder of Imago Mundi, explains how the collection came about. “We said: let’s try to look at ourselves from the outside, look at the situation of contemporary art in Italy as if it were any other country. Of course the political twilight does not help, the situation is unfavorable, geopolitics are focused on other areas of the world, but let’s try anyway. Also with a sense of responsibility towards future generations. Let’s recover our awareness of beauty. Let us each play our part and play it well, not linger on lost certainties, let’s break down the barriers of cliques. Let’s try to involve the greats and discover the young, imagine a possible tomorrow. Let’s send a positive signal to the world of what it means to be Italian.”

Sandro Chia - Affetto (2014)

Cracking Art Group - CRA CRA CRACKING (2014)

Diego Dutto - Magicabula (2014)

Robert Gligorov - Cream

The artists, who joined the project with enthusiasm, have focused on the small canvases their idea of art, of Italian art, of Italy. Big names and young talents in the world of painting, but also architects, designers, publicists, musicians, actors, to create a vibrant, generous, democratic mosaic, in the tradition of Imago Mundi. The collection is published in two volumes, each comprising 210 artists, in strict alphabetical order, that "without the vanity of being exhaustive - says Luciano Benetton - tell the story of Italian creativity, combine tradition and personal sensitivity, address topics that range from ecology to the economic crisis, from women’s rights to social uncertainties, to our life in the Internet era.”

Nucleo - Souvenir of The Last Century – Frame (2014)

Elio Fiorucci - Anno 2014 (2014)

Maurizio Cannavacciuolo - Be Very Happy! (2014)

Dario Fo - Untitled (2014)

Tobia Scarpa - Follia dell’uomo (2014)

Oliviero Toscani - Untitled 27 (2014)

The curator of the collection, Luca Beatrice, dedicated the first volume of Praestigium to the Italian landscape and the second to the Grand Tour. The reference to the Grand Tour, in particular, is evocative because it recalls the idea of Italy as a milestone, a must for anyone who wants to really broaden his or her cultural and artistic horizons. “I imagined myself, with a hint of megalomania, - explains the curator - in the role of the eighteenth century traveller visiting Italy. French, English, Germans admiring the unique splendor of the landscape and, at the same time, that decadent spirit offered by the ancient remains of a past so illustrious as to almost be a burden. Italy as an open-air museum, where styles, stories, ages, generations, overlap to form a unicum, unmatched by any other place on Earth.”

Mimmo Paladino - Harmonia (2014)

Massimo Iosa Ghini - Architettura immateriale (2014)

Pietro Ruffo - De Hortus (2014)

It is here that contemporary art pursues its idea of the future. “The artists of Imago Mundi - says Benetton – capture this Italian Wonderland, weakened but not broken, with the proud ambition of reaffirming the belief that talent, ideas, enthusiasm, can help us change direction and choose innovative paths. See things from new perspectives. The collection crosses and connects different disciplines, reflecting a constant and historical dialogue between different languages, from the central element of painting, which the poet Giuseppe Ungaretti called “the first human language.”

Enzo Cucchi - Omaggio a Van Gogh (2014)

Giulio Durini - Untitled (2014)

Julian T. - Impact Gold (2014)

Gaetano Pesce - Paesaggio sintetico n. 2, 2014 (2014)

Lucio Perone - Perone (2014)

Praestigium covers and represents the entire peninsula: Milan, Rome, Turin but also smaller towns, peripheral but only in a geographic sense: the dynamic provinces that have always fed the cultural debate in Italy, the all too often mistreated South. The role of women is also significant. “In Italy - Luca Beatrice points out - more and more dynamic and tenacious women are exhibiting in museums, participating and winning awards, making their mark on the market. Their work is also rapidly moving on from the issue of gender and standing as a universal element, in fact women (more so than men) manage to strike the note that gives a work universal resonance.” Finally, space is also given to foreigners who have chosen to live and work in Italy, a tradition that continues.

Chiara Dionigi - La dolce vita della classe operaia (2014)

Maddalena Ambrosio - Untitled (2014)

Nanda Vigo - Cronotopic Light (2014)

Paola Pezzi - Blu Klein (2014)

Teresa Morelli - Senza Te (2014)

Vania Comoretti - Eye (2014)

Luciano Benetton, as if to close the circle of on-going dialogue between artistic Italy and the rest of the world, chose to quote the succinct judgment of the Lebanese poet, painter and philosopher Kahlil Gibran: “The art of the Italian is in beauty.” For Luciano Benetton, this is “a truth that foreigners often see more clearly, and earlier, than we ourselves do.”

Mikayel Ohanjanyan - Materialità dell’invisibile (2014)

Walter Valentini - Cielo (2014)

Credits: Story

Project management
Luca Beatrice

in collaboration with
Corinna Carbone

Valentina Granzotto

Editorial coordination
Enrico Bossan

Luciano Benetton
Luca Beatrice

Editing and translation
Emma Cole
Sarah Cuminetti
Pietro Valdatta
Demetrio De Stefano

Art direction
Namyoung An

Marco Pavan
Marco Zanin

Marco Pavan

Lorenzo Mattotti - Estasi
Massimo Vignelli - Texture in Red

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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