2022 exhibition season programme
Two major exhibitions, a conference, a school and numerous events,
rediscovering the Renaissance lifestyle of the Gonzaga court in the
furnishings of Palazzo Te and the influence of Giulio Romano
26 March 2022 – 8 January 2023
Mantova: l’Arte di vivere (The Art of Living) is the title of Palazzo Te Foundation’s 2022 exhibition season, from 26 March 2022 – in collaboration with the City of Mantua and the Palazzo Te Civic Museum. With its usual focus on the territory and the grand themes of
the history of art and culture the exhibition investigates the “lifestyle” of the Gonzaga court in Renaissance Mantua.
Coordinated by director Stefano Baia Curioni with a committee of six members – Barbara Furlotti (The Courtauld Institute), Davide Gasparotto (Getty Museum), Ketty Gottardo (The Courtauld Gallery), Augusto Morari (Palazzo Te Foundation), Guido Rebecchini (The Courtauld Institute) and Xavier Salomon (The Frick Collection), the project addresses the fundamental role of Renaissance courts in cultural production.
“Why the Art of Living? What is the Art of Living? It cannot be defined, but it can be recognized when it is encountered in people, in their creations, in the ‘things’ with which we have been entrusted”, says Palazzo Te’s director, Stefano Baia Curioni. He continues: “This eternally marvellous Palazzo Te is full of allusions to an Art of Living that at times we seem to have lost: the sequence of the rooms, the imagination, the reference to the Honesto Otium in the room of Cupid and Psyche, the objects … that peek out from banquets, their multifaceted existence. So this year we decided to examine the hidden and at the same time revealed Art of Living at Palazzo Te”.
The goal is to take the public on a journey through the sixteenth-century residence that reconnects the building and its pictorial decoration to the ephemeral objects and events that it once housed and for which it was originally created. For the men and women who lived in these rooms, the artefacts of the era, beyond the blurred line between art and craft, had the power to shape social interactions and to guarantee the uniqueness and diversity of their status.
The first stage of the programme, from 26 March to 26 June 2022, Le pareti delle meraviglie. Corami di corte tra i Gonzaga e l’Europa, the exhibition curated by Augusto Morari, rediscovers a type of room decoration that was once very popular, but has now been lost: leather wall hangings. The Gonzagas, during their long regency, commissioned and purchased corami of all types and designs from the most renowned leather processing centres – Naples, Rome, Bologna, Ferrara and especially Venice – to furnish their residences, above all Palazzo Te, in an incessant search for the refined, the beautiful, the marvellous. The exhibition is laid out in seven sections that retrace the fortune and the fascinating history of these corami and their circulation from the second half of the fifteenth century to the middle of the seventeenth century, thanks to generous loans from numerous museums including Palazzo Madama in Turin, the Correr museums of Venice, Stibbert and Mozzi Bardini of Florence, and the Museumslandschaft Hessen of Kassel. An authentic master gilder’s workshop (bottega) has also been set up in the Palazzo Te’s exhibition spaces, so visitors can familiarize themselves with the materials and the techniques used to make these particular wall hangings.
Not to be missed, this autumn, from 8 October 2022 to 8 January 2023, is the Giulio Romano exhibition. La forza delle cose (The Force of Things) curated by Barbara Furlotti and Guido Rebecchini, explores the theme of metal artefacts made from drawings by sixteenth-century artists, in particular by Giulio Romano, but also by Michelangelo and Francesco Salviati. The exhibition investigates the creative and technical processes underlying the production of the objects commissioned by the Dukes of Mantua through the presentation of design pieces and drawings for silver, tapestries and objects in bronze and precious metals, with a focus on weapons and armour. These include the famous shield of Emperor Charles V of Madrid, which will be displayed in a special exhibition together with the related drawing by Giulio Romano: a unique opportunity to enjoy a rare case of survival of both artefacts to the present day. Equally important is the section dedicated to the objects of the prince’s table, testifying to the curious imagination of the court artists and the exceptional technical mastery of the goldsmiths of the time. The painstaking selection of drawings highlights how Giulio Romano had found the ideal dimension in design for expressing his most imaginative, playful and original vein.
Both exhibitions make use of the exclusive collaboration with Factum Foundation – an international leader in innovation and in the application of new technologies to the conservation of cultural heritage and in modern and functional museographical innovation – which for the first time presents the results of sophisticated techniques of digital mediation and material applied to the pieces on display. An exceptional collaboration, which also includes a large high-resolution digitization project of three of the most famous rooms in Palazzo Te, with the aim of assisting the Foundation (which remains the owner of the data collected) in enhancing the work of documentation, conservation, study and dissemination of the rooms and their decorations. An important tool to support the creation of innovative exhibition projects also outside the exhibition spaces, which adds to the care and rigor that have always characterized the cultural offer of Palazzo Te.
Palazzo Te Foundation’s cultural programme has always been based on scientific research and public restitution, and this year has seen a major focus on training.
On 6 May 2022, Il gusto per le cose: il design di oggetti tra Mantova e le corti europee del Rinascimento, (Taste for Things: the Design of Objects in Mantua and the European Courts of the Renaissance), the online conference curated by Barbara Furlotti and Guido Rebecchini, brought together some of the leading international experts and scholars of the history of art and crafts.
Alongside research, the Foundation also offers the public a varied programme of activities, in-depth events and entertainment to keep the relationship with all types of groups alive. Together with the summer events organized in collaboration with the Michelangelo Foundation and Homo Faber, and the dates of the public programme – including music, theatre, dance, presentations and talks – from May to September the Palazzo Te School is offering four theoretical and practical in-depth modules with art historians Guido Rebecchini and Stefania Gerevini, choreographer Virgilio Sieni, artist Stefano Arienti glass and mosaic craftsman Lino Reduzzi, and Carlos Bayod of the artistic production company Factum Arte.
The Mantova: l’Arte di vivere exhibition season is sponsored by the City of Mantua, produced and organized by Palazzo Te, with funding from the Fondazione Banca Agricola Mantovana and PIC, in synergy with Mantua, city of art and culture. Also this year the exhibition project was entrusted to Lissoni Associati, while the graphic project has been developed by Lissoni Graphx.