The reconstruction of Vincenzo Gemito’s life as if it were a mystery film, with an enigma to solve and clues to follow. It is proposed by Neri Marcorè and “Art Night”, with “Gemito. The crazy sculptor”, a documentary by Luigi Pingitore – produced by Persona Produzioni, in collaboration with Rai Cultura – broadcast on Wednesday 25 January at 21.15 on Rai 5.
The enigma is the very protagonist of the documentary. Who was Gemito? A brilliant artist or a sick mind occasionally illuminated by the light of talent? An artist anchored in the past with his obsessive search for realism, or a forerunner of modernity who had intuited the destiny of art, to bring realism towards the absolute ideal? Was he an abandoned foundling just born and shaped by the chiaroscuro of Naples, or a fully European artist, who could be compared to Rodin and Medardo Rosso? To answer these questions we must start from the idea of ”split”: Gemito’s life is, in fact, divided into two parts, exactly as the Naples where he lived was split into two parts. On the one hand, the rich, European city, the destination of the last fires of the Grand Tour and which is moving towards the liberty of the beginning of the century. On the other hand, the visceral city, full of shadows and mysteries, the popular city in which echoes of Caravaggio’s vicissitudes resound and in which Gemito finds the models that inspire him for his sculptures. The date that divides Gemito’s life in two, however, is August 20, 1887, the day on which he is taken to the psychiatric hospital. But before that 1887 there is a very precocious debut at the age of 7 in a shop; attending the Royal Academy of Fine Arts from which he runs away because he is unable to adapt to the classical and mythographic style; the sudden adventure in Paris, the world capital of art where the impressionists and the first avant-gardes are about to explode and which sees Gemito triumph in all the intellectual salons of the time; his fame and success that cross borders making him an international character; the return to Naples, and the painful decision to accept the commission for the statue of Charles V in marble and which will lead him to a period of self-imclusion until hospitalization in a mental hospital.
When he emerges from his period of self-imprisonment at the beginning of the 20th century, he will paradoxically find a Naples that instead looks only to the future: avant-gardes in architecture, painting and sculpture.
The documentary features Wanda Marasco, writer and author of a novel dedicated to Gemito (The genius of abandonment); Maria Simonetta De Marinis, professor and art historian; Sylvain Bellenger, director general of the Museum and Real Bosco di Capodimonte; Paolo La Motta, Neapolitan sculptor of the “Gemiana” tradition; Francesco Capasso, Caserta artist of the “anti-Gemitian” tradition; Jean Loup Champions, French artist and curator of the exhibition on Gemito which was held at the Petit-Palais in Paris in 2019 and in 2020 at the Capodimonte museum in Naples; Isabella Valente, professor of contemporary art history; Antimo Casertano and Daniela Ioia, actors of the show “Gemito l’arte d”o crazy”.
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