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Art is polyphonic

· The catalogue of the exhibition-tribute to Benedict XVI for the 60th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood ·

The splendour of truth and the beauty of charity in a 'palimpsest' of images and sounds

The catalogue “Lo splendore della verit á , la bellezza della carit á . Artists pay homage to Benedict XVI for the 60 th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood” (Vatican City, Vatican Publishing House, 2012, 1670 pages, € 35), will be launched on 18 February, which documents the exhibition on show in the Vatican from 5 July to 4 September 2011. The speakers will be Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture, Fr Giuseppe Costa, Director of the Vatican Publishing House, Antonio Paolucci, Director of the Vatican Museums, and four of those who took part in the exhibition: Santiago Calatrava, an architect, Vincenzo Cerami, a writer and scriptwriter, Jannis Kounellis, a sculptor, and Arvo Pärt, a musician and composer. We are publishing here almost unabridged the introduction to the book written by the curator of the 19 th -century and contemporary art section of the Vatican Museums. She has edited the catalogue together with Mons. Pasquale Iacobone.

Artistic creativity, in its most varied forms, its heterogeneity of techniques and its declinations of style, is demonstrated within a vast common terrain: communication, sharing and exchange. Moreover, by being an integral part of a specific historical period, its expressive value is at the same time consolidated and transformed.

Every linguistic and poetic form demands a creative source and a bed that can take its flow, its capacity for infecting and being infected, for interpreting and being interpreted, by time, culture and history, without a solution of continuity.

The artists and intellectuals present at this exhibition: “The Splendour of Truth, the Beauty of Charity”, witness to a gaze that sweeps over the world of culture and includes painters, sculptors, architects, poets, men and women of letters, musicians, photographers and goldsmiths. For this reason the principles underlying the task of selection did not follow firmly established criteria under the banner of a specific subject or a generic review.

Rather, it was desired to test the possibility of creating a fabric woven of “convergences”. The aim was that the inevitable and hoped for polychromy, due to the different types and provenances of the weft and warp threads, might respect the individual forms of artistic expression and at the same time exalt the extraordinary riches concealed or released by the coexistence of multiplicity and diversity.

This challenge is rendered even more delicate by being a gesture and a tribute for such an extraordinary circumstance as the celebration of Benedict XVI's 60th anniversary to the priesthood, in other words a long journey, both individual and universal.

In the light of these premises the criteria followed have taken into account certain basic elements. In the first place, the guiding reference represented by the encounter, on 20 November 2009 in the Sistine Chapel, between the Holy Father and the world of art: from dance to music, from architecture to video art, from the cinema to literature, from the figurative arts to the theatre. Consequently on this occasion attention to the complex structure of the field of action of human creativity was one of the most interesting aims since it impelled us also to exhibit art forms that use other places and means of communication.

In this context of tangency and convergence, pictorial and sculptural works found room and meaning, namely, works belonging to contexts as traditional as they are magnificently infected by the most varied forms of expression. The proposal, limited to slightly more than two dozen works, could not and did not wish to be representative. Rather, it intended to guarantee and to increase those polyphonic differences underlying the labyrinth of pathways that were continuing to take shape. A variety of languages, techniques, materials, subjects and environments of culture and thought guaranteed an articulate vision through which to document – although within the limits imposed by the circumstances of the exhibition – the multiplicity of the objectives of artistic research.

This multiplicity will form the basis of possible future developments and achievements, those that are formal and those that emphasize the content rather than the formal aspect. It was therefore in the light of this precious cultural fabric that the only video present in the exhibition, symbolically representing the world of cinema, was conceived as a “palimpsest sequence” of images from the Italian cinema, with different directors, epochs, styles and subjects. Pupi Avati is the film director who conceived of this beautiful collage and mounted it. She introduced into the exhibition the element of the fragment, both as a factor of style and as an emphasis on content, whose new coherence and unity are emblematically represented by the few frames recovered from the ceremony of the young Joseph Ratzinger's priestly ordination on 29 June 1951.

Such dissimilarity deserved a well-thought out display that could guarantee legibility to every individual work and safeguard the variety constituted by the exhibition as a whole, as well as permitting a fruitful infection between different works.




St. Peter’s Square

Feb. 28, 2020