What fascinates and intrigues me about Eugenio Pardini is his mural paintings: vast, choral, “political” in their theme and objectives. They are huge compositions (ten, twelve meters long, three or four meters high), they occupy public spaces (Palazzo Civico in Carrara, the Viareggio town hall, the lecture halls of schools in Barga, Macerata, Siena), they deal with universal issues: the union of populations, the evolution of womankind, war and peace, the fight against oppression.
Where does Pardini’s passion for didactic and moral painting come from? From the fresco as a mirror of history and an educational tool? Perhaps from the epic Guttuso of the people from the 1950s and 1960s, between “Battaglia del Ponte dell’ Ammiraglio ” and ” Funerali di Toglíalti “? Or rather, from a fascist Sironi – the Bolshevic of “Manifesto della pittura murale”? Or even from the tormented testimonies of the anarchic idealist Lorenzo Viani? Or maybe, in Tuscany’s son, Pardini, do we see the great civilization of the fresco still alive, the civilization that brought into churches and to the people’s palazzi the works of men, demonstrating that art is for everyone, that the craft of the fresco painter is to bear witness to ideals, to hopes, to the projects of the citizens?
It is no mean feat to answer. What is sure is that, whilst observing the Carrara mural of 1965, we must recognize that we are standing before one of the last examples, in the history of Italian art, of civil painting.
“Man will always need images,” wrote Enzo Carli quoting Jacques Villon, in his 1973 essay dedicated to his friend the painter. Eugenio Pardini’s images have “the taste of salt, of blood, of tears, of the wind” (Valeri). They are of a certain place and time. The time is the 1900s, with all its illusions and all its tragedies. The place is that part of Tuscany between the Apuane mountains and the sea. The heart of the place is the “Working and severe Viareggio that the summer crowds ignore” ( Carlì ).
Pardini’s art moves within this framework. He has always known that “The icon – man” is the unavoidable crossroads of every artistic expression, he has always known that the appointment with history is one that is impossible to decline. However seductive the sirens of negligence, the flattery of abstraction and informality (the painter was touched by these suggestions and left us works of moving beauty), Eugenio Pardini never eschewed his dream of painting as the mirror of visible beauty, but one that is also a witness, that renders a service.
(Rimini, 1939) Italian politician and art historian, he was a minister and chief of the Polo Museale in Florence.
He graduated with a degree in Art History in 1964, and began his career at the Ministry of Cultural Heritage in 1969, but paying close attention to the world of the Monuments and Fine Arts Offices. From 1980, he ran several of these offices, first in Venice, then in Verona, Mantova and finally in Florence, where he was special officer for the Polo Museale Fiorentino and Regional Director for Cultural Heritage and Landscapes of Tuscany until his retirement in 2006. The following year, the minister Francesco Rutelli called upon him to be one of the team of four experts to work alongside Salvatore Settis to coordinate the work of the Superior Council for Cultural Heritage and Landscapes.
From January 1995 to May 1996, he was Minister of Cultural Heritage during the Lamberto Dini government. Following the earthquake that struck Umbria and the Marche in 1997, he was nominated Extraordinary Commissioner for the restoration of the San Francesco basilica in Assisi. He writes for various publications (Paragone, Il bollettino d’arte, Il Giornale dell’Arte, Il Sole 24 Ore, La Repubblica, La Nazione and Avvenire), and has published numerous art history essays, as well as curating important exhibitions on the Renaissance (for example, the one on Marco Palmezzano) in Italy and abroad.
In November 2007, he was named as the new director of the Vatican Museum, replacing the archeologist Francesco Buranelli, whose mandate expired in May 2007.
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