Tagged: Rome

The Digest. 08.10.09.

Graffiti feet in Rome. (Photo by Celso.)

Congrats to the I-Man for winning the C-Mon Giveaway Extravaganza, Dudamel edition.

A Day at Cinecittà: San Suzie visits fake Rome, fake Assisi + fake NYC.

Rome, recreated: The set for the HBO series Rome at Cinecittà. (Photos by San Suzie)

In 1937, everyone’s favorite Fascist, Benito Mussolini (he’s actually the guy who coined the term) founded a movie studio to create propaganda films for his Nazi-sympathizing regime. Dubbed Cinecittà (‘Film City’), the studio was heavily bombed by the Allies during the war, and afterwards, its soundstages were used to house thousands of Italians who had been displaced by the war. By the 1950s, however, Cinecittà had turned into the hub of La Dolce Vita of Italian filmmaking, serving as the set for most of Federico Fellini’s films, and even American blockbusters such as Ben Hur.

Getting a tour of Cinecittà is about as easy as getting a private audience with the Pope. But, with a few well-placed phone calls by C-Monster.net‘s high-powered Hollywood agent, we managed to wrangle our way into a guided tour of the studio’s incredible backlot on a positively sweltering summer day. We saw everything from the satanic-looking sculptures that appeared in Angels and Demons to a recreation of the hilltop town of Assisi where St. Francis received the stigmata (“it’s too steep and inconvenient to film there,” said our guide of the real Assisi). Most significantly, we got to see the house where Grande Fratello, Italy’s version of Big Brother is filmed. The highlight, however, was walking through the $20 million dollar set for HBO’s Rome, a sprawling set of painted temples and forums that gave us a far better sense of the Imperial City than a year’s worth of trudging through ruins.

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Martyrdom Makes Me Happy: Santo Stefano Rotondo in Rome.

Pass the bath salts: Martyrdom, Santo Stefano style. (Photos by C-M.)

Of all the churches I genuflected at while in Rome, my absolute favorite was the Basilica di Santo Stefano al Monte Cielo (more commonly known as Santo Stefano Rotondo). It is a graceful circular structure (parts of which date back to 500 AD) with a lovely skylight at center. But it’s best asset is the art. Lining the walls of the church are some impressive 16th century murals of martyrdom that serve as a visual compendium of truly imaginative deaths. You’ll see people being boiled, burnt, flayed and chopped — some of them upside down. Yet, because they depict the fleeting moments of spiritual ecstasy that accompany a good martyrdom, everyone kinda looks like they’re having a really great time. The overall effect: disturbing and hilarious. Kinda like the Catholic Church.

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The Digest. 04.23.09.

Lin (?) in Rome, Italy. Holler if you know the name of the artist. Update: Apparently, it’s Linfa, of the 180 Crew. (Photo by C-M.)

MAXXI Padding: San Suzie’s preview of Zaha Hadid’s upcoming Rome museum.

The smart museum comes with louvered ceiling panels that open and close automatically with changes in the sun’s position. (Photos by San Suzie.)

Ever since the Guggenheim and Frank Gehry managed to turn a not-particularly-interesting regional capital into a must-see art destination, cities major and minor have been clamoring for their own contemporary art palace designed by a starchitect. Rome’s contribution to the trend is the Museo Nazionale delle Arti del XXI secolo, or MAXXI, a colossus of glass, steel and concrete designed by the prima superstar del momento, Zaha Hadid. Several weeks ago we were fortunate to horn in on architecture writer and Rome Prize winner Cathy Lang Ho‘s tour of the unfinished building. The 20,000 square meters of exhibit space (more than 200,000 square feet) were still full of forklifts, cables, and bellissimi Italian construction workers; nonetheless, we have to admit that we were head over heels for the clean, open spaces, curved walls, and louvered ceiling panels of Ms. Hadid’s “Cultural Space for the [sic] 21st Century Arts.”

The only problem, as we can see it, is that the museum doesn’t have much 21st century art. Or much art of any century for that matter; its collection is tiny. We are hoping that the €80,000,000 price tag (that’s $108 million greenbacks) of the building hasn’t eaten up the entire art budget. If it has, they might consider turning the museum — chock full of graceful ramps — into the world’s most spectacular skatepark.

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Photos: Baselitz’s Skulls + Boners at Gagosian in Rome.

George Baselitz
Baring It All: We’ve seen guys like this on the subway a million times. (All photos by San Suzie.)

George Baselitz kicked off the Rome gallery season at Gagosian with a bunch of new paintings that looked a lot like his old paintings and half the pieces we saw at last year’s Art Basel (which was big on skulls). In addition to the giant skulls, Baselitz’s paintings and drawings all featured expressionistically rendered male figures playing with members that can only be described as wishful thinking. (One of the painted schlongs was a whopping 22 inches. We measured.) The show, which kicked off Gagosian’s second season in Rome, was gagosianissimo in almost every sense of the word: cavernous exhibit spaces, suited security guards hovering by the paintings, crowds of fashionistas clamoring to get in. No wine, alas. But you can get that for cheap at any of a dozen nearby trattorias. Which is exactly where we headed directly after posing in front of all the boners.

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