Opening at the Italian Cultural Institute, The Light of Southern Italy, is a carefully selected exhibition, curated by Marco Bertoli, of 34 beautiful paintings rarely seen in New York and the United States. This is the second exhibition from this collaboration at the Institute following The Macchiaioli in October 2014. And is the next step in Bertoli’s project to bring 19th-century Italian painting, in all of its diversity and splendor, to an American audience while paying tribute to the artistic heritage of the many Italians who built the dynamic Italian-American community. The exhibition highlights artists from across Italy’s southern regions including Abruzzo, Molise, Campania, Apulia, Basilicata, Calabria, and Sicily. Mastering light and chromatic effects, these painters created landscapes, seascapes, genre scenes, and portraits of great beauty. The intensity of the light in these images transports the viewer to the Mediterranean and conveys the aura of the south of Italy which was characterized by the excavations at Pompeii, the grandeur of Vesuvius, the rugged coastline, and the humble allure of the local people. As Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once said, in his celebrated Voyage in Italy, Naples and the surrounding countryside “… have left an indelible impression”.
While art enthusiasts may be more familiar with the artistic production from the north of Italy – such as work from Florence, Venice, Milan, etc. – the exhibition serves to highlight the southern regions. 19th-century Southern Italian painting was notably diverse in subject matter and styles, as was European art in general. Late Baroque style was finally abandoned fully and these painters were engaged in contemporary artistic trends. Light and color were the primary focus for artists who range in style from realist painters such as the virtuosic Antonio Mancini, to plein-air landscape painters such as Francesco Lojacono and Giuseppe Laezza, and to painters of everyday life such as Filippo Palizzi and Marco De Gregorio. Bertoli is pleased to join the Italian Cultural Institute in highlighting the rich beauty of Italy’s cultural heritage and to, in particular, shine a light on southern Italian life and art which rarely gets the spotlight focused on its northern compatriots.
The Light of Southern Italy: Paintings from the 19th-Century Neapolitan School is open from Thursday, October 8th through Thursday, November 5th at the Italian Cultural Institute, 686 Park Avenue, between 68th and 69th Streets. Hours: Monday through Saturday, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm.