GAMeC – Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Bergamo in partnership with the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Roma will hold an exhibition dedicated to Giacomo Manzù, one of Italy’s greatest twentieth-century sculptors, from 1 October 2008 to 8 February 2009 to mark the centenary of his birth.

Based on fifty or so of his works from public and private collections, GAMeC will focus on the central period of his activity, from 1938 to 1965, which was distinguished by profound iconographic development and the excellence of the plasticism of his sculpture.

Curated by M. Cristina Rodeschini, director of the Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Bergamo, and Marcella Cattaneo, an art historian, the exhibition will also benefit from a technical committee consisting of Maria Vittoria Marini Clarelli, Soprintendente della Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Roma, Livia Velani, and Marcella Cossu, director of the Manzù Collection in Ardea.

The works displayed will begin from his renowned series of Crucifixions produced between 1939 and 1942, and include the themes Manzù held most dear to him: female portraiture, which touched and involved him deeply, his engaging interpretations of the female nude, and the psychological rendition of the semblance of the personality of culture, to which he was attached by personal and professional relationships with such artists as Carlo Carrà, Cesare Brandi and Oskar Kokoschka.

His innovative iconography of the Cardinals, his meeting with Pope John XXIII, and the completion of the Door of Death for St Peter’s Basilica are singled out as crucial moments in Manzù’s artistic career. In particular the Vatican door, on which he worked from 1947 to 1964, became the epicentre of a poetics which, in its dialogue with tradition, turned away from academism to offer a vision of a reality in which human values and emotions are solidly coalesced.
The focus on his works from the period 1938–1965 aims to highlight the intensity of the Bergamasque sculptor’s research, conducted through the theme of unambiguously representational art, which led him to become one of the most important figures in twentieth-century art.
The connection of the exhibition with the City of Bergamo’s celebration in 2008 of the 50th anniversary of Pope John XXIII’s election will underline how strongly Manzù’s personal relationship with the pope influenced his work.
The catalogue, which is published by Electa, contains essays by Marcella Cattaneo, Marcella Cossu, M. Cristina Rodeschini and Marco Roncalli that discuss the artistic and human sides of Manzù’s life in the period between the 1930s and 1960s. Each of the works on display is described from the points of view of its conception and place in art history. The entire series has been photographed by Jacopo Ferrari.
A series of itineraries in Lombardy, linked to Manzù’s life, will be drawn up for the exhibition by Silvia Carminati.

To highlight the sculptor’s artistic life in Bergamo, a section of the exhibition will be held in the Palazzo Marinoni Barca in Clusone (BG), the home of the MuseoArte Tempo. The town, in the busy Seriana Valley, provided refuge to the artist and his family during World War II, and ensured him not only safety but also an open and supportive cultural climate that is reflected by the works exhibited.
At the same time that the Giacomo Manzù exhibition is held, the Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea will present a retrospective of the creative work of Giacomo’s son, Pio (1939–1969), an internationally known designer who specialised in the car industry.