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THURSDAY, MAY 3, 2018 www.italoamericano.org L'Italo-Americano 2 W hat's art? To find a non p r o s a i c answer, let's follow the thoughts of Lev Tolstoj, one of the main protagonists of modern culture. In 1897, he wrote an essay on aesthetics, with the aim to explain what rests behind architecture, sculpture, painting, music, poetry, all manifestations of what we normally call "art." This is certainly a question we may have asked ourselves many times, too, especially when facing contemporary works of art, often difficult to interpret, wondering what's the difference between a novel and a masterpiece, between a simple painting and a corner stone of international creative expression. True art, Tolstoj says, is what "becomes contagious and is able to create in Man a sense of joy that is spiritual communion with the artist and with all the others contemplating the same piece of art." The author of novels such as Anna Karenina and War and Peace, the value of which is unanimously recognized, continues by saying that "Good art is always understandable by all" and, in this sense, it can be considered "popular", that is, accessible to everyone. More than anything else, it is something that goes beyond personal taste, trends and artistic movements. It is something that leads the way, an interpretation in which we recognize part of ourselves, a key to understand, a orientation manual to guide our steps through a a complex world, made of contrasting signals, distortions, varied messages reaching us from all directions, yesterday as today. It is more than color, canvas, clay, plaster chalk, bronze, stone, wood. It's more than a technique, instruments, materials or expressive abilities. And it is certainly more than collecting, museums and the art market. It is a message that goes one step further than the ordinary to take over traditional interpretative and expressive schemes, and formulates new language able to synthesize the universe we touch: from science to religion, from philosophy to technical evolution, from our ever-changing social reality to our very own personal fears, from trends to morals. In synthesis, art is the ability to manifest a feeling and deliver it to people. What's Giotto's inheritance, what emotions do we get from Beato Let's be charmed by art to understand who we are and what we feel From the director Angelico? What does make Michelangelo great and why does everyone admire Leonardo? Why is Raphael considered the greatest and what's the mark left by Bernini? Who doesn't dream when looking at Canaletto's landscapes, Canova's sculptures or Modigliani and Guttuso's portraits? When it comes to art, there is more than knowledge: by experiencing it, we let it touch us and charm us. Emotions rise within our souls. It is an important process, that helps us get in deep touch with the community we live within, with society, with our identity. Through art, we manage to understand their mood. Often, a song is sufficient to understand and sum up the soul of a whole epoch and if you have a song or o a piece of music attached indelibly to a specific moment of your life, than not only you understand what we mean, but also how the mechanism works. Art is "popular" when it belongs to us, to our times, to our society and culture, when we perceive it as part of what we are. Significant are, again, Tolstoj's words: "In order to define art exactly, it is essential to stop considering it simply as a means to pleasure, and start seeing it as one of human life conditions. This way, it'll be impossible not to note how art is one of the instruments through which people communicate with one another. Every work of art supports the creation of a relationship between who views it and who made it, and with all those who saw it, before, with and after them." At this stage, the relevance of certain artistic locations becomes evident. Visiting the Vatican Museums or the Uffizi in Florence doesn't simply mean to walk through centuries of marvel and talents, nor is it a didactic path to understand the expressive evolution of human creativity. It means primarily understanding the vitality and the excitement of an era, witnessing what a society reached, glancing into the itinerary millions of people have walked to bring us to be what we are today. Reading contemporary art works, such as those produced by Italian American artists, also gives the opportunity to grasp the process that led us to be what we are, to think about the way we live our ethnicity, to place ourselves within a movement that also includes our small, but significant personal experience. We may see it as disconnected from everything else, but truth is many things make us part of an era, of a society, of a way of "total" - or to say it like Tolstoj, popular - way of thinking and living. Being charmed by art is good for everyone. It's an experienced not to be missed. Simone Schiavinato, Director NEWS & FEATURES TOP STORIES PEOPLE EVENTS

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