Tuesday 28 October 2014

Canvassing (Parts of) Tuscany - Part 3 - Piero on the Escalator

Continuing my mini-series on Tuscan street art I found on my recent Italian holiday, I'm going to share photos I took of a huge mural that has been painted in Arezzo's scale mobile.

The scale mobile is a building housing a series of escalators that have been built into a hill on the north side of the old city. The escalators bring people from a car park at the bottom of the hill, up-up-up the hill to the edge of the old city, just next to the old Duomo (the Cattedrale di Ss. Donato e Pietro) and the nearby park or "prato" (the Parco della Fortezza Medicea).

Over a couple of weeks in October 2011, a group of 30 students painted the mural as a tribute to local art hero Piero della Francesca. Piero was born about 1415 up the road from Arezzo, in the town of Sansepolcro. His contemporaries knew him mainly as a mathematician and geometer, but today he is known for his art.

Wikipedia says of Piero:
His painting was characterized by its serene humanism, its use of geometric forms and perspective. His most famous work is the cycle of frescoes "The Legend of the True Cross" in the church of San Francesco in the Tuscan town of Arezzo. ...  
In 1452, Piero della Francesca was called to Arezzo to replace Bicci di Lorenzo in painting the frescoes of the basilica of San Francesco. The work was finished before 1466, probably between 1452 and 1456. The cycle of frescoes, depicting the Legend of the True Cross, is generally considered among his masterworks and those of Renaissance painting in general. The story in these frescoes derives from legendary medieval sources as to how timber relics of the True Cross came to be found.

As a tribute to Piero, the students re-created one of the scenes from the "True Cross" cycle, depicting the Battle between Heraclius and Khosrau. Here is a photo of the original fresco, depicting the Battle between Heraclius and Khosrau (compliments of Wikipedia):

The mural project was part of a broader effort called Scenografia Urbana (Urban Scenography) that seeks to enhance the historic centre of Arezzo. The project seems to have been run by the Scuola Europea dei Mestieri (SEUM) (European School of Crafts) in Arezzo.

The mural painted by the students is huge, 200 square metres, and it runs along one wall of the scale mobile, which is only 10 minute walk from the San Francesco church. The students came from Italy, of course, and from other countries, such as Argentina, France, Israel, Palestine, Tunisia, Morocco, Spain and the US.

Here are my photos of the recreated fresco in the scale mobile. These photos move from the left of the mural to the right, and from the bottom of the scale mobili up to the top.

Incidentally, there is a small observation platform on top of the scale mobili, and this is the great view from there, looking out over the city limits to the Tuscan hills.


Here are some videos on YouTube showing the students and their advisors putting the mural together:
Official video, short version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MtMpa-SUuL4
Official video, long version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hF91KNvxNyo
Interviews and work in progress: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mZhBPy8KftA

Here are a few links where you can find articles (in Italian) about the mural painted in Arezzo's scale mobile:

Here is an on-line 3-D interactive computer model developed by a number of academics that allows you to virtually "walk through" the chapel of the church of San Francesco and view the "Legend of the True Cross" frescoes:

And here is the background to that project:

Here from the Web Gallery of Art site are pages on:
The fresco cycle, "Legend of the True Cross": http://www.wga.hu/html_m/p/piero/2/
The Battle between Heraclius and Khosrau: http://www.wga.hu/html_m/p/piero/2/8/index.html
Here is a webpage called "Art in Tuscany" that gives an overview of the fresco cycle, "Legend of the True Cross". Strangely, it seems to be tied to a property rental site, but the photos of the frescoes are good:

And, here are some Wikipedia articles about:
Piero della Francesca: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piero_della_Francesca
The "Legend of the True Cross": http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_History_of_the_True_Cross
The Church of San Francesco: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Francesco,_Arezzo

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