The English painter Graham Dean creates «beautiful models, athletes, crazy bondage enthusiasts, identical twins, people with skin imperfections» using their bodies as «vehicles of expression». Through his stunning and innovative watercolours, he narrates emotions, ideas and memories, playing with colour contrasts and multiple layers. Looking at his reds, we can easily imagine the brightness of India, but we can barely imagine that he could be inspired also by Umbria.
It was 1992 when Graham Dean, born in Birkenhead, Merseyside, came to Italy to spend six months at the British School in Rome. He won a prestigious art award – the Senior Abbey Award in Painting – and he had the possibility to live for a while in the residential institution of the British School and to visit Rome and the cities nearby. From that moment on, Italy got under his skin.
During his many visits out of Rome, Graham went to the well-known town of Assisi and then, on his way back, he stopped in a village near lake Trasimeno.
«I didn’t know anything about Umbria and I was taken aback by the lake and its surroundings, wondering why that place was such a secret. Why didn’t more people know about this place?» states Graham. «Back in Rome, I vowed that one day I would return to buy a house and, if possible, a studio».
R1-00546-0001, The Dirty Yellow Series, 2016
@arise 2, Straight to Red, 1999
Head, New Work
Enfold, The Dirty Yellow Series, 2017
It was just the beginning: Graham Dean, who has made a lot of solo exhibitions all over the world, got struck by Umbria’s and now, he owns a studio-house between Migliano and San Vito, about 15 minutes out of Marsciano. He visits the house, surrounded by fields and the river Fersinone, about five or six times a year.
«I work on projects in the studio or on ideas. I found an enormous time to think and reflect. I have found, over the fifteen years I own the house in Migliano, that is the only one environment where I can completely relax in. There is an atmosphere that is difficult to describe unless you experience it, but everyone who visits says the same thing. I’m trying not to view through rose tinted glasses, as I know it can be economically harder for people to make a good living, especially for the young».
As a painter of the human body, Graham Dean has found that he’s slowing turning his attention towards the idea of landscape and the sense of other that he and his friends experience at the house. He feels like Umbria is a new territory for him to explore.
What would it be his next step? He would like to put on a large showing of his work in Umbria and he’s still waiting to be asked! Even though a number of younger painters wanted to show him, the authorities didn’t, so it slowly came to a halt. But who knows? We bet that sooner o later you will see Graham Dean’s large paintings in one of the Umbrian museums.
Yes, Pino Lancetti came from Umbria, and we could say that he was an Umbrian DOC, one of those who have left an indelible imprint in the world of which Umbria can be really proud.
Pino Lancetti with her sisters,Vanda,Lorena and Edda
He was born in Bastia Umbra on November 27th, 1928; there he spent his youth, and since then it was clear his gentle soul and that artistic touch which led him to embark on a career as a fashion designer, thanks to which he became an absolute protagonist all over the world.
We recover precious pearls from Lancetti’s life from the monograph that Professor Edda Vetturini, his former teacher and great supporter, dedicated him in 2007, the year of his death, throughout a special edition of «Il Giornale di Bastia» published by Pro Loco di Bastia Umbra.
By reading, we learn how young Pino did not want to attend his peers, because he preferred to draw sketches on that drawing album from which he never separated and how, since then, his works were animated by fantasy and extraordinary talent.
He attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Perugia, and after a first period spent in Umbria, where he worked as a designer, first in ceramics production then in the artistic field of Perugina, in 1954 he moved to Rome.
An umbrian tailor that reached the top of fashion
Here he opened his own laboratory in Via Margutta and slowly began to create a his fame in the Capital, which allowed him to make his first collection for Princess Lola Giovannelli. His work was applauded by the greatest Italian fashion journalist, Irene Brin, and from that moment on he began his important career as a haute couture designer.
Art was his inspirational muse, in particular painting, and painters oriented his most famous collections: the first, a success of 1956, was influenced by Modigliani; in 1977 the Italian Style Renaissance collection was suggested by Raffaello‘s rooms, and finally the realization of true art masterpieces with the launch of the Sophisticated Lady in 1984, fabrics embellished with drawings that tell the deep suggestions of the artists he loved and that driven him: Cimabue, Giotto, Picasso, Matisse, Kandinsky, Modigliani.
High Fashion Spring / Summer Collection, 1986
More than dresses, his creations were real works of art, that had to be exhibited more than worn, and it was no coincidence that Lancetti was attributed by the specialized press the nickname of “tailor-painter“.
That tailor-painter who, in 1986, for the 25th anniversary of haute couture, presented at Villa Medici, which hosted the Accademia di Francia, a wonderful collection in honor of Picasso, together with an exhibition presented by the great painter in his latest artistic period: «Arlecchino’s models attracts in the same way as those of the Spanish artist, joining, painting and Fashion, in a harmonious union with Art.»
Tradition and innovation: Lancetti’s versatility
Lancetti’s fashion was refined and precious, the dresses were often adorned with woven embroideries, decorated with stones, crystals, sequins. Each item was unique and unrepeatable that has to be admired as the paintings loved by the artist and that inspired him.
His scarves became famous all over the world, real paintings with a single frame, which represented a symbol of elegance and sophistication between the Seventies and Nineties.
Pino Lancetti was a multifaceted artist and he worked for the cinema industry (in 1979 he created the costumes for the film La Luna by Bernardo Bertolucci); he was the creator of profound transformations resulting from a constant study and careful research: creativity yes, but without improvisation.
Together with the gown-work of art, the designer perceived the need for change in female fashion, in line with the emancipation that women were experiencing in the Seventies. Hence the need to create a fast, practical, easy-to-wear fashion: in this way originated the prêt-à-porter that awarded him the Italian Press Special Prize.
Lancetti was indeed a fashion designer loved by the press, Italian and foreign, and he was awarded many prizes during his career: from Knight of the Republic to the Nomination in Who’s in Italy 1997, from the Golden Baiocco of the City of Perugia, at the Career Oscar from the National Chamber of Fashion. Just to name a few. In 2001, Ciampi appointed him a Grand Officer for the merit of the Republic.
Among the numerous exhibitions dedicated to him, we want to remember the one set up in his region: in 1999, in the Cannoniera Hall of Rocca Paolina, there were exposed a hundred haute couture masterpieces belonging to the private collection of the artist.
High Fashion Spring / Summer Collection, 1986
The citizen's tribute
Ten years after the disappearance of Pino Lancetti, Bastia Umbra, who, after his death, received the coffin of his fellow citizen in a lively embrace, he wanted to dedicate to him the piazza adjacent to the Church of San Rocco.
In the middle of the small Largo Pino Lancetti, he looks with his elegant and vaguely melancholic air those streets that many times saw him walk, carrying his inseparable drawing album under his arm.
E. Vetturini, Lancetti. Il Re dell’Alta Moda, special edition of «Il Giornale di Bastia», Pro Loco of Bastia Umbra, November 2007.⇑
E. Vetturini, Lancetti. Il Re dell’Alta Moda, special edition of «Il Giornale di Bastia», Pro Loco of Bastia Umbra, November 2007. The publication was courtesy of Vanda Lancetti, Pino’s sister.
Giovanni di Pietro, called Lo Spagna, after his family’s Spanish origins, (Spain 1470 – Spoleto 1528) is one of the protagonists of Umbrian pictorial art between the XV and XVI centuries. Not as well known as other followers of the Umbrian master Pietro Vannucci (some of his more famous students: Pinturicchio and Raffaello), he is an interesting and pleasing artist and worthy of closer study.
The young Giovanni was probably in Florence around 1493 when Pietro Vannucci, known as Il Perugino, was among the four more prominent masters in the city together with Botticelli, Filipino, and Ghirlandaio. Perugino at that time assumed a leading role by opening the workshop near the Hospital of Santa Maria Nuova; his studio was on of the most active and was also frequented by numerous students from all over Europe who came to learn “the grace that he had in his own colouring technique” (G.Vasari, 1568). This has led us to believe that our artist may have come into contact with the Umbrian master, subsequently becoming his pupil and collaborator.
Influences and first Works
When in 1501 Perugino opened a workshop in Perugia, a rich town that wanted to renew its style and adopt a more contemporary feel, Giovanni followed him, where he probably also came into contact with Raffaello, another young follower of Perugino. Giovanni worked together with the Master on a series of frescoes for the Franciscan Convent of Monteripido, of theseonly a fresco of Saint Francis receiving the stigmata remains. It was located on the gable of the façade of the Church and attributed to Lo Spagna and which is now preserved at the National Gallery of Umbria.
Critics agree that in the pictorial style of Giovanni di Pietro there is a strong similarity to Perugino’s style of models,which was a fundamental step in the formation of the painter and in obtaining commissions, and also inhis ability to grasp the influence of Raffaello while maintaining a personal and simple language that is rich in the fine use of colour and grace. Some of his works form part of collections of some of the most important museums of the world, among which are: The National Gallery, London, The Louvre, Paris and the Vatican Museum Art Gallery, Rome.
From the first keeps to Success
At the beginning of 1500 the Perugino environment was under the control of the Bottega del Vannucci and in common with Perugino collaborators including Pinturicchio, Lo Spagna needed to move on in search of work in order to be able to create his own entourage. His artistic career finally took off in other Umbrian towns.
The beautiful and elegant town of Todi, that dominates the valley of the Tiber is significant: in 1507 a contract was agreed in Todi between the painter and the body of the Church of San Potito to create an altarpiece depicting the Coronation of the Virgin (Todi, Museo Civico) (fig.1), which was completed in 1511 when the artist went to live there and set up a business. In addition to the Montesanto altarpiece, Giovanni worked in the cathedral where he painted various chapels with frescos (between the 1513 and 1515) and he also decorated the organ (1516). Two tablets remain depicting St.Peter and St.Paul and a fragment of a fresco depicting a Trinity (fourth nave on the right, Cathedral of Santa Maria Annunziata, Todi).
Another important Umbrian centre in Lo Spagna’s career is the city of Trevi, a village at the top of Monte Serano, beautifully dominates the Spoleto valley, the seat of powerful local families. Here the artist was commissioned by Ermodoro Minerva, ambassador of Ludovico Sforza, to decorate the chapel of San Girolamo in the church of S. Martino. The lunette with the Virgin in Glory with Saints Jerome, Giovanni Battista, Francesco and Antonio da Padova dated 1512 is a fresco with clear Perugino references with its ideal and pleasant landscape, but in more decisive colours. He also created the imposing altarpiece with the Coronation of the Virgin in the same church in 1522 (now at thePinacoteca of the San Francesco Museum complex). It is rich in pure refined iridescent tones, with solidly constructed figures and subjects and items carefully rendered in an illusionary style, derived from the prototype of Filippo Lippi in the Cathedral of Spoleto (1467-69) and by the Coronation of the Virgin of the Ghirlandaio that he created at San Girolamo in Narni in 1486; both were also referenced to Raphael in 1505 for the altarpiece at Monteluce in Perugia. While at Trevi, the Master Lo Spagna, who by now was in demand and lauded by the whole of Umbria, decorated the church of the Madonna delle Lacrime between 1518 and 1520 with references to the sought-after style of Raffaello, shown in particular in the scene of the transportation of Christ (fig.2), where there is a strong association to the masterpiece by the Urbino Master carried out for the Cappella Baglioni in Perugia in 1507 which is today curated at the Borghese Gallery in Rome. This was testament to Lo Spagna’s development in rapid and continual renewal, stimulated by continuous in depth study, in keeping with the requests for special commissions by the more affluent.
In 1516 he was granted citizenship of Spoleto, witness to the fact that Giovanni had resided in Spoleto already for several years. On 31 August 1517 he was appointed Head of Art for painters and goldsmiths, confirming his recognition in the role of Head of the school. From 1516 onwards, his activities were based in Spoleto and the surrounding centres, based on documentary evidence as well as by a large body of work which reveals the presence of assistance and workshop activities that had assimilated his style. Among the more interesting and significant works are the Madonna Ridolfi a Madonna with Child between Saints Giacomo, Niccolò da Tolentino, Caterina and Brizio commissioned by Pietro Ridolfi (fig.3) who was governor of Spoleto from 1514 to 1516 (Spoleto, Palazzo Comunale), the Virtues painted for the Rocca, removed in 1824 and reconstructed in a monument dedicated to Leo XII (Palazzo Comunale). The arrangement and the iconography of the three allegorical figures, justice at the top, with charity and mercy on each side, suggests their destination was to have been an environment with judicial functions. In Charity, conceived in accordance with a rotating composition, and in Clemency, characterised by the perspective that confers rhetoric in gestures and postures, there are also solutions developed by Raphael in the Roman year, thus suggesting a history ahead of its time.
Along the Via Flaminia, not far from Spoleto in the church of San Giacomo Apostolo, the patron saint of pilgrims, Giovanni di Pietro is asked to decorate the apse and two chapels in 1526. The semi-dome depicts the Coronation of the Virgin (fig.4) and the wall depicts San Giacomo and the Miracle of the hanged man and the Miracle of the chickens. With an extraordinary richness of gilding, colours and grotesque ornaments and crowded with figures, it is scenically complex and it is here Lo Spagna achieved the pinnacle of his career, a rare Umbrian display in a modern style.
Spoleto – San Giacomo
Durign this time, together with his workshop, Lo Spagna worked at Valnerina: in the church of S. Michele Arcangelo in Gavelli, where there are frescoes dated 1518 and 1523; to Visso in the church of S. Augustine; at Scheggino, where, finally in 1526 he signed the contract to decorate the church gallery of S. Niccolò for which he was offered 150 guilders.
Lo Spagna may have died of plague in October 1528 confirmed by an entry in the Town Archives of Spoleto which reports that on 9th day of that month candles for the funeral ceremony were received: “die 9 octobris, havemmo per la morte dello Spagna pictore quatro torcie” (Gualdi Sabatini, 1984, p. 395). (“ day of 9 October, we received four candles for the death of the painter Lo Spagna)
Dono Doni was the best known of his followers, but not the only one to collect the baton; his flourishing workshop still today constitutes a characterizing feature of the artistic heritage of the area of Spoleto and the Nera Valley. Among the collaborators to be remembered are also Giovanni Brunotti and Isidoro di ser Moscato, Giacomo di Giovannofrio Iucciaroni (circa 1483-1524) active in Valnerina and Piermarino di Giacomo who in 1533 completed the Scheggino frescoes.
FOR MORE INFORMATIONS:
Todi – Museo civico (closed on Mondays. Open: 10.00-13.00/ 15.00-17.30), Cattedrale di Santa Maria Annunziata (open all day: 9.00-18.00). Tourist Office tel. 075 8942526
Trevi – Pinacoteca complesso museale di San Francesco (open from Friday to Sunday: 10.30-13.00/ 14.30-18.00), other spaces open on request). ProTrevi tel. 0742 781150
Spoleto – Palazzo Comunale (open from Monday to Friday: 9.00-13.00; Modays and Thursdays: 15.00-17.00). Tourist Office tel. 0743218620/1
Fausta Gualdi Sabatini, Giovanni di Pietro detto Lo Spagna, Spoleto, Accademia Spoletina, 1984.
Pietro Scarpellini, Perugino, Electa, MIlano 1984. Perugino: il divin pittore, cat. della mostra a cura di Vittoria Garibaldi e Federico Francesco Mancini, (Perugia, Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria 2004), Silvana Editoriale, Cinisello Balsamo 2004.
Giovanna Sapori, Giovanni di Pietro: un pittore spagnolo tra Perugino e Raffaello, Milano, Electa, 2004