In the Berninian spaces of the Braccio di Carlo Magno in Saint Peter's Square, the exhibition “The signs of the sacred. The imprints of the real. Twentieth-century Graphic Arts in the Contemporary Art Collection of the Vatican Museums” will open to the public on 11 December. The exhibition, curated by Francesca Boschetti with the coordination of Micol Forti – respectively assistant and curator of the Department of Nineteenth and Contemporary Art of the Vatican Museums – presents for the first time an extraordinary selection of about 150 graphic works, mostly unpublished, chosen from among the more than 4000 works that constitute the entire collection of nineteenth- and twentieth-century prints, engravings, drawings and photographs in the Vatican collections. A hidden treasure, which for obvious conservation reasons is kept in the dim light of drawers, or exhibited in rotation for short periods, and that in this circumstance can be seen and admired by the public, freely and without charge, until 29 February next year.
On display are masterpieces of graphic art by Edvard Munch, Paul Klee, Otto Dix, Max Ernst, Oskar Kokoschka, Umberto Boccioni, Felice Casorati, Giorgio Morandi, Piero Dorazio, Marc Chagall, Joan Miró, Henri Matisse, sometimes accompanied by drawings, paintings and sculptures by the same artists or other authors who have iconographic or chronological relationships with prints.
Formed in 1973, in parallel with the creation of the section dedicated to the twentieth century, the collection of twentieth-century graphics in the Vatican Museums is young and unusual inasmuch as it is not the result of the will of a collector, but rather a natural and spontaneous consequence of Pope Paul VI's invitation to the world of art to reconnect the historical link between the Church and contemporary culture. Since the death of Pope Montini, the increase has followed different criteria and the acquisitions are aimed at filling gaps in the existing historical nuclei, while maintaining a continuity with the original idea of giving witness to contemporary spirituality.
A unique and precious exhibition initiative which, as the Director of the Vatican Museums, Barbara Jatta, emphasizes, “casts light on an artistic genre that is perhaps less well-known, less spectacular and less disruptive than painting and sculpture. An intimate art, but which perhaps precisely for this reason arrives more directly at the heart of people, at their soul”.
The exhibition catalogue is edited by Edizioni Musei Vaticani.