«I do not see a concrete design, a global project that aims to promote the knowledge of contemporary art in its various forms».
Artist, university professor and art historian and much more, it is the professor emeritus of History of Art, Bruno Toscano, born in 1930. In the post-war period, with the Group of Six and with the Spoleto Prize (National Exhibition of Figurative Arts) he helped to promote Spoleto as one of the most active centers of contemporary art: a remarkable personality for the Italian art and the Umbria itself.
Professor, what is your link with Umbria?
My parents were from Calabria, but I was born and I received my first education in Spoleto. Moreover, many of my researches are focused on different aspects of Umbria.
I read that you was the founder of the first Spoleto film club: today, what is your relationship with this art?
We founded, my painters friends and me, the film club immediately after the war, in 1949, as an act of freedom. We wanted to introduce many films that had been forbidden during the Fascism period. We decided to inaugurate the cineclub with “La grande illusione” Jean Renoir’s masterpiece against the war. In the program there was a lot of French cinema of the 30s, but also the Italian Neorealism, which was exploding in those years. Overall, it was a poor cinema, in black and white.
How was Umbria, from an artistic perspective, at the time of the Group of the Six (Bruno Toscano, Giuseppe De Gregorio, Filippo Marignoli, Giannetto Orsini, Ugo Rambaldi, Piero Raspi)?
It was a period of intense activity and very far from a provincial dimension. Critics and leading artists came together from the major Italian centers to Spoleto. In the jury of the numerous editions of the Spoleto Prize, which started in 1953, there were critics such as Francesco Arcangeli, Luigi Carluccio, Marco Valsecchi and artists such as Mario Mafai, Roberto Melli and Marino Mazzacurati.
How is our region today from an artistic point of view?
I do not see an effective and global project that aims to promote the knowledge of contemporary art in its various expressionsThe Ciac of Foligno is an exception, conceived as an observatory of wide visibility. But this is no t only a problem for Umbria. It is known that the decline has deep and wide-ranging origins. When knowledge is no longer considered necessary, the level of education and the interest in history and art are lowered.
How did Umbria influence your painting?
My paintings are linked to the places that surround me. But these are not “views”, but rather a habitat full of stimulus and very engaging. There is something maternal in the earth that surrounds us, which can’t be represented through conventional figurative forms.
How would you describe Umbria in three words?
Divided between growing areas and abandoned areas; as a consequence, impoverished; despite everything, fascinating.
The first thing that comes to your mind thinking of this region…
“…fertile land of high mountain hangs …”from the “Divina Commedia” XI Canto.