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Famous self-portrait by Leonardo da Vinci on display for the first time at exhibition in Turin
Visitors look at a book with a Leonardo da Vinci self-portrait in it during the preview of the exhibition 'Leonardo. The Genius. The Myth' in the Palace of Venaria in Turin, Italy. The show about the genius of Leonardo da Vinci runs from 17 November 2011 to 29 January 2012. EPA/ALESSANDRO DI MARCO.
TURIN.- The exhibition, conceived and organized on the occasion of the celebrations for the 150th anniversary of Italian Unification by the Italian Ministry for Cultural Heritage is aimed to offer a journey into Leonardo’s works: about 30 original drawings from some important Italian and foreign institutions and some writings about the Autoritratto from the Biblioteca Reale of Turin. The path includes also a series of works from the 15th to the 20th century, telling us the importance and the strengthening of the physiognomy of Genius in ancient and modern arts, as well as the influence of Leonardo on contemporary art.

An opening section offers the visitor the chance to know the artist through a biography that illustrates his social contest, his cultural background and the multiple fields of activity in which the Maestro worked. An illustrative and interpretational video report about Leonardo’s works, focused on the topic of the physiognomy of the artist, curated by Piero Angela, helps to introduce visitors in the world of the artist. The exhibition is achieved by a multimedia area, introduced by a digital reproduction of the Last Supper on 1:1 scale, that allows to analyze the details of gestures and physiognomies of one of Leonardo’s major masterpieces. The fortune of Leonardo in literature is described by the projection of literary writings, while a section, realized in collaboration with the Museo del Cinema of Turin and curated by Arnaldo Colasanti, presents a series of movies inspired by his genius.

The section about drawings, curated by Carlo Pedretti, Paola Salvi and Clara Vitulo, presents the Codice del Volo degli Uccelli and a complete set of 13 autograph writings belonging to the collections of the Biblioteca Reale of Turin, including the famous Autoritratto. Prestigious national and international lendings integrate and provide a context for the topics of the Turin collection, particularly those of human face, nature, human anatomy and machines.

The figure of Leonardo is analyzed through a selection of works by artists from the 15th to the 18th century, curated by Pietro Marani. Through this section, visitors may easily understand how the physiognomy of the artist soon became the icon of the Renaissance genius. A specific section is dedicated to the construction of Leonardo’s image as the epithome of the Italian character, a rhetorical device used before and after the Italian Unification.

The section about the fortune of Leonardo in contemporary art, curated by Renato Barilli, is opened by the famous tribute by Marcel Duchamp, that apparently defaced Mona Lisa by drawing a moustache. Another unmissable topic is the Last Supper, with the series of reprocessed reproductions by Andy Warhol, but also many other main characters of contemporary art, such as Spoerri, Nitsch, Recalcati. The theme of the Uomo Vitruviano can be found in the work of Ceroli. Leonardo was also a scholar of physiognomy, who inspired Lavater’s types and later influenced the works of Goya, Daumier, and Grosz. Lastly, a precious note by Leonardo invites the visitor to look at the stains on walls and see arcane scenes and landscapes, as it occurred in the works of Informal artists like Wols, Tápies, Rotella, Twombly, Benedini and Novelli.

The exhibition is set up in the wide spaces of the 18th century Scuderia Grande, under the direction of the Academy Awards winner Oscar Dante Ferretti, who put on the stage the great Leonardo’s machines as containers of the artist’s works. Great and spectacular projections on the walls are aimed to emphasize the theme of Autoritratto.

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