FORNASETTI Theatrum Mundi: Italy restarts from culture

After months of lockdown, the time is finally mature for Italian museums to welcome visitors again. We can happily say that the gradual return to normalcy has started from exhibits, Art and Cultural institutions’ openings, which will be subjected to precautionary measures, as expected.

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The Pilotta Monumental Complex, in Parma, has been one of the first exhibition spaces to follow the government decision that occurred at the end of May.

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FORNASETTI Theatrum Mundi. Exhibition in the Voltoni del Guazzatoio, Pilotta Monumental Complex. Photo credit: Cosimo Filippini

On June the 3rd, it opened the doors to the FORNASETTI Theatrum Mundi exhibition, a lively journey through past and present and between the classic and the modern, that perfectly matches the theme chosen for a series of events and appointments occurring in the city under the title “Culture is the Beat of Time”. The city, which has always been in a balance between the past and its innate inclination for future innovations, is now turning into an amusing art and history laboratory, for celebrating the significant status of “2020 Capital of Italian Culture”.

“Piero Fornasetti is God and his objects are the actors.”

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FORNASETTI Theatrum Mundi. Exhibition in the Teatro Farnese, Pilotta Monumental Complex. Photo credit: Cosimo Filippini

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FORNASETTI Theatrum Mundi. Exhibition in the Teatro Farnese, Pilotta Monumental Complex. Photo credit: Cosimo Filippini

This metaphysical explanation of the world portrays the world as a theater wherein people are characters staging their dramas, with God as the author.

Not by chance, the exhibition has its core inside the Teatro Farnese, a scenographic seventeenth-century masterpiece of architecture based on the model of the Classical theater, the same architectural structure which inspired the idea of the Theatrum Mundi formulated by the Neo-platonic rhetorician Giulio Camillo (1480-1544). The utopia behind the thinking of Giulio Camillo placed figures and symbols in a precise order within the Vitruvian theatre, or rather the allegory in which all human knowledge should have been stored, through a system of memory associations for images: a sort of artificial mind, attributing to the imagination the faculty of understanding, reconstructing and interpreting the elements of the world. 

This represents the crucial conceptual substratum whereon the multifaceted creativity of Fornasetti starts an open dialogue with the spaces and architectural elements of the Pilotta Monumental Complex.

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FORNASETTI Theatrum Mundi. Exhibition in the Sottogradinata of Teatro Farnese, Pilotta Monumental Complex. Photo credit: Cosimo Filippini

The artworks of Fornasetti are staged inside the crystalized past of the location, echoing the lyrical and cultural dimension of the Pilotta spaces, while unfolding an encyclopedical compendium of his vision: the reinterpretation of the ruins as a fragment of time, the use of the drawings, graphics, collecting, and everyday objects contribute creating a concrete “theater of the world” which is pervaded by the illusionistic and dreamlike dimension of the entire perspective of the artist.

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FORNASETTI Theatrum Mundi. Piero Fornasetti: Sketches for screens, 1950s.

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FORNASETTI Theatrum Mundi. Piero Fornasetti: Tray “Mano”. Early 1950s, Lithograph on metal

Using the network of those iconographic references and cultural suggestion of Fornasetti, and following the red thread traced by the elective affinities with the place, the exhibition disseminates hundreds of Atelier works accompanying them by short explanatory texts and quotes from other authors, that offer many more suggestions and keys of reading.

FORNASETTI Theatrum Mundi thus demonstrates the depth and universality of the contemporary regeneration classicism in a witty counterpoint, pervading the spaces of one of the most important Italian and European museums with the recognizable playful key of an undisputed artist.

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FORNASETTI Theatrum Mundi. Exhibition in the Salone dell’Ottocento, Pilotta Monumental Complex. Photo credit: Cosimo Filippini

Curated by Barnaba Fornasetti, Artistic Director of the Atelier Milanese, Valera Manzi, Co-curator of Cultural Activities and President of the Fornasetti Cult Association, and the Director of the Pilotta Monumental Complex Simone Verde, the exhibition aims at regenerating the classical heritage of the independent institution of Parma, while enhancing the contemporary design vision of a master like Piero Fornasetti.


FORNASETTI Theatrum Mundi

3 June 2020 - 14 February 2021

Complesso Monumentale della Pilotta, Parma

Curated by Barnaba Fornasetti, Valeria Manzi and Simone Verde

Opening hours: 8:30 - 18:30 from Tuesday to Saturday / 13:00 - 18:30 on Sunday and public holidays