Tano Festa and Michelangelo: a dialog between the Renaissance and Pop Art

Tano Festa,

"The creation of man", 1964, enamel and paper emulsified on wood, private collection

Tano Festa (1938-1988) and Michelangelo Buonarroti entertained a long conversation, starting in the early 1960s when the Roman artist began creating popular re-interpretations of the great Tuscan master (highlights: the paintings in the Sistine Chapel and sculptures in Florence’s Medici Chapels).

In commenting Festa’s works based on the Vatican’s frescoes, art critic Achille Bonito Oliva has explained “Festa, as an Italian and European artist, is well aware that Michelangelo’s iconography is everyday and familiar at the same time for any Roman artist”.

“Festa knows,” Bonito Oliva continues, “that overcoming distance with a leap is impossible, and that history is not a nuisance but the outcome of a journey and path that can arm the creative process with the tools of dialog. Photography and the two-dimensional conquest of painting space turn into instruments of awareness and use, founding a different language. The echoes of the Sistine Chapel are happily blunted on Festa’s painting screens, which revive the use of classic iconography through the practice of references. The artist does not wish to copy great masters of the past – like Michelangelo, Van Eyck or Ingres – in their technique. He recognizes their distance and amplifies the gap through the iconographic inscription of stills in his painting” (A. Bonito Oliva, “Il tallone di Achille: sull’arte contemporanea”, Feltrinelli, Rome 1988).

Here is a synthesis of this dialog between the Renaissance and Roman Pop Art.

June 22, 2015