Futurism was the Italian movement most controversially remembered for allying with Mussolini’s National Fascist Party.
The Futurist art movement was much more inclusive and borrowed from other schools such as Cubism and Impressionism to convey the speed of technological advancement that was a key part of their manifesto.
This exhibition at the Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art displays a breadth of work by Gerardo Dottori, a Futurist painter, who used many of these techniques to build up a varied portfolio.
His use of angular lines brings an energy to his work, whether it be rays of sunlight reflecting off a tower or the intense flames of a fire in the middle of a city that makes the surrounding buildings glow a foreboding red.
His landscapes are impressive and one particularly inspiring view is of jagged mountains towering over the contrasting green rolling fields beneath them.
Sitting just inside the tall mouth of an Italian mountain cave, the Temple of Valadier cuts a striking neo-classical silhouette against the rough hewn edges of the surrounding natural cave walls, looking like the temple itself was trying to seek refuge in the cave.
In reality it was the local population that has been taking refuge in the caves for hundreds of years.
Since at least the 10th century the local population has been taking shelter in the large cave in which the temple now sits, usually hiding out from attacks from marauding enemy tribes.
Remains of these earlier uses of the cave were uncovered when the temple was built in 1828 at the behest of the reining pope. A crude hermitage was also installed right near the entrance to the temple.
The ornate design features a domed roof covering an octagonal silo structure meant to symbolize Jesus’ resurrection after eight days.
The isolated mountain temple is known as the “Refuge of Sinners,” and acted as a pilgrimage site for those seeking forgiveness.
The interior originally held a marble Madonna and Child sculpted by Italian artist Antonio Canova, however the original has been moved to a local museum and a replacement was installed in the temple.
While the idiosyncratic hidden temple is more of a tourist attraction than site of solemn prayer, the shrine inside is still a religious site kept in good order.
Galileo’s support of a heliocentric theory (the planets revolved around the sun) was seen by the Roman Catholic Church as contradicting various scriptural passages.
In 1616, Galileo first defended himself against the Church. Galileo was ordered not to “hold or defend” the idea that the Earth moved and the Sun remained stationary at the center. For several years, Galileo was able to discuss heliocentric theory hypothetically without arousing undue ire from the Church.
In 1632, Galileo published Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems with the permission of Pope Urban VII, who had supported Galileo in the earlier conflict (as Cardinal Barberini). Urban had two conditions:
Galileo was to include arguments for both heliocentric and geocentric viewpoints. Urban’s own views on the matter were to be included
Unfortunately, the book turned out to be biased in favor of heliocentrism and the Pope did not appreciate the perceived public ridicule.
Galileo was ordered to stand trial for suspicion of heresy in 1633.
The 1633 hearing did not go as well as the one in 1616, and Galileo was found guilty of heresy. His sentence had three parts: He was required to recant his heliocentric views
He was imprisoned (though this later got commuted to house arrest at his estate near Florence)
His Dialogue was banned, and all other works written by him (or to be written by him) were forbidden, though this latter part was not enforced.
While under house arrest, Galileo wrote Two New Sciences , which outlined his earlier work in kinematics and the strength of materials. This book was praised by both Sir Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein . Galileo died of natural causes in 1642, after having gone blind.
He was reburied at Santa Croce, sacred ground, in 1737. I
n 1741, Pope Benedict XIV authorized publication of Galileo’s complete works. Heliocentrism was formally rescended as heresy in 1758.
It was not until October 31, 1992, that the Church under Pope John Paul II expressed regret over how Galileo had been treated, in response to a Pontifical Council for Culture study.