The Nativity of Caravaggio is fifty years old, all the events scheduled in Palermo


Event location: places within the program within the program

Event date: From 10/10/2019 to 10/20/2019

Event cost: costs within the program

On a rainy night, two fools steal – on a hypothetical date between 12 and 17 October 1969 – the Nativity with Saints Francis and Lorenzo, the only autograph painting by Caravaggio for Palermo.

The two force the entrance, remove the Nativity of Caravaggio from the altar, remove the canvas from the frame with a blade, roll it up and take it away. The theft is simple, the Oratory of San Lorenzo, where the painting was kept, is not equipped with any alarm system. The stewards will notice the two keepers on the 18th morning: they give the alarm, but no trace of the canvas. From this moment begins the story of the stolen Caravaggio, one of the most sought after works in the world, the canvas of which the pentiti speak, on which the judge Falcone investigated. On theft – on which the investigations, articles, novels are no longer counted – the most surreal and, at the same time, most truthful hypotheses are pursued. The only truth is that … there is still no truth about Caravaggio, and exactly fifty years have passed.

An appeal is therefore launched from Palermo to protect the thousands of works throughout the national territory, often kept in churches, chapels, oratories without adequate supervisory systems. Mayor Leoluca Orlando: "Palermo is an orphan of his Caravaggio, it must never happen again anywhere. As for the Nativity, assuming it is still intact, I am convinced that the picture is no longer in the hands of the Mafia, but that it has already been freed from it for some time ".

Precisely for this reason, in 2017, the Anti-Mafia Commission, led by the Honorable Rosi Bindi, reopened the file, acquiring the new declarations of Mannoia and Degree and is comes to the conclusion that the picture still exists – the Friends of the Sicilian Museums, chaired by Bernardo Tortorici of Raffadali, have devised a composite program that will unfold from 10 to 20 October, exactly fifty years from that damn week where theft occurred.

Caravaggio50 has many souls: we will talk about the Nativity analyzing it from the scientific point of view, we will take stock of the investigations, we will offer accompanying exhibitions, screenings, documentaries. On October 15, at the Teatro Biondo, the (already) famous interview released in 2001 to the director Massimo D’Anolfi by Monsignor Rocco, the parish priest of the Oratory of San Lorenzo (who died in 2003) will be projected. A video that has remained in the drawers for years, which the director is editing right now and which will be shown in absolute preview; a real indictment – after almost eighteen years – of the custodian of the Oratory, launched immediately after the theft but remained unheard. Monsignor Rocco accuses the boss Gaetano Badalamenti telling of having had an offer, receiving a piece of the canvas as proof, the possibility of a negotiation. The Minister of Cultural Heritage Dario Franceschini and Mr Rosi Bindi were invited to the screening.

Guests, art critics, scientific curators, politicians, and police forces will participate in the busy program of Caravaggio events. From Palermo comes therefore a national appeal for the protection of the patrimony, against every theft, offense, wound, to safeguard the work of art, of whatever kind, period, language it is.

In this context, the re-materialization work of large dispersed masterpieces (destroyed, stolen, burned, however lost), signed by Factum Arte, founded by Adam Lowe, which has already created the Nativity in 3D that two years ago , in the presence of President Mattarella, was placed in place of the stolen canvas, at the Oratory of San Lorenzo. Another seven "re-materializations" form a unique exhibition of its kind, "The Return of Lost Masterpieces" which will be inaugurated Thursday 10 October at the Abatellis Museum, where it will remain until December 8, before starting its journey around the world. The exhibition, organized by the Friends of the Sicilian Museums in collaboration with SkyArte and Factum Arte, is promoted by the Regional Department for Cultural Heritage and Palazzo Abatellis. It is part of the Le Vie dei Tesori program and will be visited with the festival coupon. Among the 160 places open for five weekends, until November 3rd, Le Vie dei Tesori proposes the guided and narrated visit of the Oratory of San Lorenzo.

The Caravaggio50 program will have a preview in the inauguration of the exhibition "The return of lost masterpieces", on Thursday 10 October at 6 pm at Palazzo Abatellis. Monday, October 14, at 18.30 at the Oratory of San Lorenzo, a scientific conference is scheduled on "The Nativity with Saints Lawrence and Francis by Michelangelo Merisi from Caravaggio" which will be attended by the head of the architectural heritage of the Diocese, Father Giuseppe Bucaro, historians and scholars Francesca Curti, Michele Cuppone, Giovanni Mendola, Maurizio Vitella. Tuesday, October 15 at 9 pm, at the Teatro Biondo, the video projection "The truth of Monsignor Rocco" to which will intervene the director Massimo D 'Anolfi. Mayor Leoluca Orlando will be present, Cultural Heritage Minister Dario Franceschini and Mr Rosi Bindi have been invited.

On October 16 at 6.30 pm, in the rooms that fifty years ago were inhabited by the Gelfo sisters, custodians of the Oratory, who discovered the theft of Caravaggio's canvas, the exhibition "NEXT – the other Nativities" will be set up. The project of the Friends of the Sicilian Museums, started in 2010, tends not to "metabolize mourning" but to always keep it alive and present. For this reason, every year an artist has been invited (or challenged) to elaborate a new, original version of the "Nativity", in dialogue with the empty space. The work is inaugurated on Christmas night and remains on display until October 17 (the hypothetical date of the theft) of the following year. Of the nine Nativities achieved so far, eight will be exhibited – signed by Laboratorio Saccardi, Francesco De Grandi, Adalberto Abbate, Fulvio Di Piazza, Igor Scalisi Palminteri, Daniele Franzela, Alessandro Bazan, Francesco Simeti, each with his own language – and come together as chapters of a single exhibition to browse through. Missing the work of Studio Azzurro (2012/2013) which was a computer universe in which to dive.

On October 17th at 9,15 pm at the Oratory of San Lorenzo, the narration and cunto de "Theft of Caravaggio told" becomes a show of Salvo Piparo that will revive the different "characters" of the affair Caravaggio, with Costanza Licata and Egle Mazzamuto, music performed by multi-instrumentalist Michele Piccione: the night of the theft, the two elderly custodians, the denunciation, the hypotheses of the pentiti, the distracted city: Salvo Piparo has built a dramaturgical text that fishes, as is his usual, from the world "popular ”And from lounges to give a fascinating theatrical tale.

On October 18, the Experimental Cinematography Center (Cantieri della Zisa) will host a marathon dedicated to the "Nativity": from 6pm will be screened "Once upon a time a Caravaggio", a documentary by Rai Educational; "Operation Caravaggio", chapter of the series "The mystery of lost masterpieces", produced by Sky Arts Production Hub, directed by Giovanni Troilo and co-produced by Ballandi Arts; at 8 pm the documentary-inquiry "Caravaggio, the boss and the Swiss merchant" made for "Falò", a program of in-depth study of the Swiss Radiotelevision of the Italian language (RSI), by Maria Roselli and Marco Tagliabue who deepen the hypothesis on the role of a mysterious character, an art dealer who may have been in business with the boss Badalamenti. The man, who has been dead for many years, has been identified by the investigators but his identity is top secret. The evening closes at 9pm with the latest film by Roberto Andò, "A story without a name" on the theft of Caravaggio.

On 19 October at 7 pm we return to San Lorenzo, for "Stories from an Oratory", narration for puppets and voices, text by Carmela Catalano. On stage, the puppets of Salvatore, Francesco and Luciano Bumbello, Luciano Guarino, to whom Sandro Dieli will give a voice, to tell more than 400 years of history. Organize the "Antonio Pasqualino" Puppet Museum.

Caravaggio50 will close on October 20 at 7 pm at the Oratory of San Lorenzo with "In memory of a stolen Caravaggio", concert for cello solo by Silvia Gira, music by Giovanni Sollima.

There are many theses of the repentant, they add up to one another. Marino Mannoia in '89 and then in '96 declares to judge Falcone that the canvas was stolen on commission but when the buyer saw it, he refused it because it was reduced in poor condition: it will retract after thirty years, offering another truth ; Gerlando Alberti tries to sell it, he can't, he buries her with a treasure of dollars; Brusca negotiates the restitution with the State in exchange for a softening of the 41 bis. Spatuzza says that it had been kept in a stable and that it would have been eaten by rats and pigs. Who says that the canvas would have "blessed" the Mafia summits, some who were used by bosses as bedside rugs. An infinity of stories, stories, fancies, tracks, investigative hypotheses, feedbacks, checks, which end up in nothing. In 2017 the Anti-Mafia Commission, led by the Honorable Rosi Bindi, reopens the file and acquiring the new declarations of Mannoia and Grado, comes to the conclusion that the picture still exists, passed from the hands of the boss Gaetano Badalamenti and, cut into different pieces , ended up in Switzerland.

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