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Ambassador Terzi's address to the opening ceremony of the exhibition "Arcimboldo: Nature and Fantasy"
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am truly delighted to have this opportunity to join you here at the Press Conference on Arcimboldo organized by our friends at the National Gallery, whom I wish to thank, first and foremost, through its eminent Director, Dr. Powell, Dr. David Alan Brown and Dr. Dodge Thompson. My sincere gratitude also goes to those who made this exhibition possible, Louisa and Robert Duemling and the Altria Group.
The exhibition on Arcimboldo is one of the cultural highlights of the events and activities we are planning here in Washington to celebrate an important occasion coming up next year: the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy.
Italy was also the star in the Washington National Opera’s new season: indeed, WNO General Director Maestro Placido Domingo opened the Fall program at the Kennedy Center with a performance of the renowned Risorgimento composer Giuseppe Verdi’s “Un Ballo in maschera”, with the gifted tenor Salvatore Licitra playing the lead role.
This exhibition enables us once again to highlight the Italian genius and the deep and instinctive sensitivity of the Italian people to perceive and enrich change and progress. In fact, Arcimboldo fully embodies this genius, following in the footprints of great Renaissance artists such as Michelangelo and Leonardo, and achieving the same levels of proficiency and originality. In particular, he was inspired by Leonardo’s studies of nature and new ways of interpreting it: no longer is nature hostile or adversarial but, on the contrary, it is a benign and friendly force.
Arcimboldo personifies the complexity and eclecticism of the Italian Renaissance. Just think of the diverse artistic activities he undertook over the course of his life, beginning his career as a designer of stained glass, moving on to become a court portraitist and then gradually giving himself over to an extremely personal and genuine form of painting. Arcimboldo is, in fact, also a man of his times, he senses and interprets the change that is taking place, intellectualizes and refines it, later becoming the highest expression of the Italian school of art that takes the name of mannerism and paves the road towards the affirmation of a new and original genre, the Baroque.
Thus, the works of Arcimboldo in this exhibit make it possible for us to celebrate once again Italian excellence, a privilege which we will also enjoy in the upcoming exhibits dedicated to Palladio, Canaletto and Michelangelo.
Whatever the case may be, enhancement of the Italian genius and excellence is one of the key themes of the celebrations of the 150th anniversary of Italy’s unification, an occasion which will once again see a close and productive collaboration between our Embassy and the National Gallery. Allow me therefore to take this opportunity to renew my appreciation to the National Gallery for the attention it reserves to Italy each year by inaugurating the Fall season with an exhibition dedicated to our country.
The President of the Republic, The Honorable Giorgio Napolitano, also expressed his sincere appreciation for this attention to Italy during his recent visit to Washington; he personally saw the preparations for the Arcimboldo exhibition and confirmed that the National Gallery was the ideal venue to host the celebrations for Italy’s important forthcoming anniversary.