I am staying near Pietrasanta, a town that lives and breathes sculpture. Michelangelo came to “tame” the local mountains and extract their superior quality marble. The place has been a hub for sculptors and artists ever since. Its international reputation continued to draw the likes of Miró, Moore and more recently Koons and Hirst.
Gentrification has swept all the marble-dust covered craftsmen out of their central studios and corner bars. They took their centuries worth of skill and expertise and are now working out of purpose-built marble studios and bronze foundries on the edge of town. Pietrasanta is a beautiful, vibrant town awash with galleries and stunning exhibition spaces but I would have loved to have seen it in its former, dusty glory.
"Shadow, Dust and the Promise of Future" is part of "450° Michelangelo Mindcraft", an exhibition currently spread across various venues in Pietrasanta to mark the 450th anniversary of Michelangelo’s death. It includes works by Anish Kapoor, Antony Gormley and Ai Weiwei amongst many others.
Antony Gormley’s piece is exhibited in the church of Sant’Agostino. I was so distracted by the beauty of the place that I walked past, or rather under Gormley's piece several times before I saw it. I felt the energy of the piece was dwarfed by its surroundings. The Kapoor piece was in a much smaller room off a courtyard to the side of the church. A piece of beautiful black Belgian marble with its centre scooped and polished to perfection, humming in the empty space. The Sala Grasce next door houses a video installation by Ai Weiwei. It’s the first time I have seen his work. I thought it was brilliant, mad and would have loved to spend some more time in there. I might go again.
I also want to come back to see the Museo dei Bozzetti which holds a collection of over 600 maquettes and models of sculptures that have been realised here in Pietrasanta. Will definitely have to spend some more time sitting on the stairs in the main piazza - people-watching on warm marble steps ...
Antony Gormley - Feeling Material XXXVI, 2008 "The body as energy not form, weightless, massless, being not doing." - Church Sant'Agostino
Anish Kapoor - Fantasma, 2003 “The manifestation of void” - Black Belgian marble - Sala Capitolina
Ai Weiwei - Video instalation - Sala Grasce
If you would like to read more on Pietrasanta and the local sculpture industry take a look at this FT article: