Sergio Vacchi was born in Castenaso di Bologna on 1st April 1925. His mother, Maria Luisa Barchetti, was born in Marano di Castenaso on 8th June 1898 and died in Bologna on 9th June 1965, whereas his father, Giuseppe Vacchi , was born in Castenaso on 8th March 1899 and died in Bologna on 24th October 1981. His father was born in a peasants’ family and in the years immediately after World War One he started managing quarries in the area around Bologna and made his fortune soon thanks to the investment of his wife’s dowry, whose family owned large portions of land in that same area. Sergio was the first of three siblings, Giorgio was the second one, whereas Luciana was the youngest. Sergio grew up in his family’s house in Castenaso, surrounded by his family’s love and his nanny’s, Giorgina, kindness.
After an early education in the countryside, in 1931, when he was 6, he was sent to live with his unmarried aunt Angiolina in Bologna, where he could attend the elementary school at the San Luigi Boarding School, run by the Barnabite Fathers. In the same institute he also attended the middle school and the secondary school specializing in classical studies. His parents surely wanted to guarantee a high and solid classical education to him, but Sergio never forgave their behavior: He felt that he was the only son to be rejected and sent away from his own house, even though he was so fragile and still needed his mother’s love so badly. At school Sergio met many youngsters in his age and some of them also became good friends of his. Nonetheless he didn’t see them very often, as he was a very private person who lived detached from real life. Since his adolescence he has loved solitude, alienation from ordinary reality and literature. Despite of his dislike for that school and the world around it, its distinctive sign permeated and moulded his reluctant and at the same time receptive character: there Sergio learnt “not to keep pace”. Such a personal rhythm became something that he would never forget and is still now his own peculiar rhythm.
The solitary child and then disquiet adolescent spends his days reading at home. Many of the novels he discovers shape his romantic and disenchanted attitude and later on will provide the material for his art. In these years Vacchi becomes more and more interested in culture and particularly in literature. He reads Eliot, Kafka, Dostoevskij, Proust, Pirandello, Joyce, Beckett and many others, and by himself purchases various texts from the book stands and old book stores. He just follows his own inclinations and doesn’t like going out with people in his age; he rather stays in his room in his parents’ house, where he goes back to live in 1936, after they moved from Castenaso to Bologna. In his family’s house he looks for and finds a shelter, the place where dreams, meditation and a profound dialogue with himself are still possible. However, he doesn’t give up the 10-Km long bike rides from Castenaso to Varignana (10 Km on the way to and 10 Km on the way back) during the summer holidays: he goes courting his first love, Renata Grosso, with whom he is together from 1939 to 1945. When he is 19, he matriculates at the Faculty of Law, but only after two exams (Labour Law and Roman Law) he drops his studies to dedicate himself to his real passion: painting. His love for literature had nourished his love for painting, had been a way to get closer to the physical matter, to the canvas and the color. He is an autodidact, he doesn’t receive any canonic education at a school or an arts academy, and for a little while he is a private scholar at Garzia Fioresi’s studio. The first principle that the painter teaches to his scholar is the faithfulness of painting. In 1946 he rents a studio in Via Borgonuovo in Bologna. In the early years of his activity as a painter he is influenced by the great artists operating in Bologna, such as Roberto Longhi and Giorgio Morandi. The series of Morandi’s refined still lives and his small icons evocating contemplation suffocate the young painter from Castenaso, who is forced to limit his themes, subjects and formats.
His will to flee from these schemes, from these contemplative investigations on the metaphysical nature of everyday life, leads him to work on many different subjects and constantly new themes. His use of big canvas is an example of his refusal of the traditionally bourgeois size of a picture, something that Morandi liked so much.
His early work was also inspired by the visit to an exhibition of a 6-year old girl’s paintings in Bologna. Her genius struck him deeply, although he did not hear from her anymore; he was impressed by her untidy and odd use of the space, by the fact that she distributed figures and objects in the picture without aiming at any evident and real harmony.
In these early years Vacchi sporadically audits Roberto Longhi’s lectures at the Faculty of Arts, where he meets Francesco Arcangeli, one of Longhi’s scholars.
One day, between the end of 1946 and the beginning of 1947, the young artist asks Arcangeli to come to see his studio to have Arcangeli’s opinion about his first works. At that time Arcangeli and Vacchi had two very different views of art, but they shared the same enthusiasm about it and since 1947 they have become close friends and hold each other in high esteem all their lives long. Since that moment Arcangeli has followed and deeply loved Vacchi both as a friend and as an artist: he became his confidant, protected and promoted him. The respect and esteem they had for each other made them bosom friends, at the same time free and close to each other in life and in the arts.
Vacchi exhibits his works for the first time in 1949, at the Antico Martini Gallery inVenice, together with his friend Sergio Romiti. On 26th March 1951 his first exhibition opened at the Milione Gallery in Milan with a catalogue edited by Francesco Arcangeli: “Sergio Vacchi at the Milione Gallery”. This occasion was the stage of an episode that was emblematic of the cultural atmosphere in the early 1950s, dominated by Giorgio Morandi’s and Roberto Longhi’s personalities. Some time ago Vacchi told me the following: «In 1951 I exhibited my works at the Milione Gallery in Milan. At the opening, among the invited guests, there was also the great historian Roberto Longhi, but I had never thought that he would have actually come. Well, Longhi came and at a certain point he stopped in front of a still life, “Still Life in Grey, 1951”. I was intimidated and embarrassed by this prominent person, I wanted to do something, to talk to him, try to communicate with him… I got closer to him and, while the critic was still observing the painting, I said “Professor, this is a pear”. Longhi looked at me without saying anything and left the exhibition. I was speechless, bewildered by the way I approached him and especially by his loud silence. After some months I was in Florence with some friends and went to audit one of Longhi’s lectures at the University of the 14th century’s Sienese studies. We entered the room when the lecture had already begun and the Professor seemed not to have noticed us. After a few minutes, though, he looked into the empty space and said “pear”. At that point, deeply stirred and astonished, I stood up and bowed.» Vacchi loves telling stories like this, meaningful and symbolic moments of his life as an artist.
His early works are strongly influenced by Post-Cubism, especially by Picasso’s Guernica (a work that became famous only after the War), where formal research and social commitment combine.
Vacchi’s social milieu was close to the Interventionists and could not get rid of the realistic and narrative participation in the surrounding reality. This was realized through a personal decomposition of reality similar to Post-Cubism, where figures are standing out and are so close to the viewer that seem to come out of the paintings’ physical space. In 1955 Vacchi rents a new studio and moves from Via Borgonuovo to Via San Gervasio.
In 1954 and 1957 two Vacchi’s exhibitions are promoted by Francesco Arcangeli and Marco Valsecchi, who edit the two catalogues: Sergio Vacchi’s Paintings and Sergio Vacchi’s most recent Paintings. Vacchi abandons Picasso’s vitality and moves towards Cézanne’s ideas, epitomized by his views of Sainte Victoire mountain. The main characters of his paintings become woods and landscapes of the Padania region, that witness an intimate and solitary dialogue with nature. In these paintings, like in Wooden bridge at the Giardino Margherita (1953), the artist discovers a new and denser light and brighter colors: both horizontal and vertical greens and blues dominate the picture.
The great historian Arcangeli wrote about this painting as follows: «It is very beautiful and modern, a vegetal magma as gloomy as a dismally cheerful heart, a gleaming and dreadful cave, full and abysmal space, involving and swallowing Cézanne and Klee in a powerful vibration of a distinct-indistinct entity.»
However, Vacchi kept on looking for new themes and felt the need for a stronger presence of the matter. This means a further change in his painting that from the Naturalism, characterizing his art from 1952 to 1955, moved forward the poetics of the Informal. This pictorial phase is centered on a violent, immediate, instinctive painting that thrives between 1956 and 1962. The paintings of this period are nearly out of control: figures, spaces, matters, colors melt on the big canvas where the organic is represented through an endless creativity.
During the 1950s his father, Giuseppe Vacchi, starts painting small charcoal pictures mainly showing night club dancers. The entrepreneurs’ circle he belongs to starts calling him the “Toulouse-Lautrec of Bologna”. The father’s gesture clearly shows his will to compete with his own son, whose work was starting to attract the most prominent artists’ interest and to create some expectations, too.
On 20th February 1956 his son, Matteo, was born.
In 1958 Vacchi’s works expatriate and are on display both at the Italian Contemporary Art Exhibition in Copenaghen and at the MoMA in New York. The latter’s catalogue is edited by Arcangeli and Vacchi.
That same year, as well as in 1956, his works are shown at the Biennale in Venice.
1959 is a crucial year for Vacchi’s artistic and private life. In 1959 he moves to Rome in order to flee (as Vacchi declares) Arcangeli’s suffocating grasp, who had become a too protective patron.
Vacchi is cut off from Bologna suburban and no longer stimulating artistic life and now joins the Roman cultural circle, where he meets Dario Micacchi and Enrico Crispolti, the two first historians in Rome to be interested in his art. Sergio met Crispolti for the first time when he was still living in Bologna; in 1956, on his way to the Biennale in Venice, Crispolti stopped in Bologna to visit him. The young critic was 23, whereas Sergio was 31. Since then their respective criticism and art have always dialogued and both intellectuals have looked for mirrors of the artistic metamorphosis within its own historical truth. Crispolti loved Vacchi’s painting so much that two years after, during a fight between the artist and his teacher, Lionello Venturi, at Vacchi’s Attico exhibition, Crispolti advocated Vacchi’s work and in the catalogue criticized Venturi and, by doing so, criticized his own master’s ideas.
In Rome Sergio initially lives for a little while in a rented studio-apartment in Via De Carolis, without any furniture and with spring-mattresses to sleep on. Afterwards he moves into another rented apartment in Piazza San Lorenzo in Lucina, where he also has his studio and where lives until 1997.
In Rome he gets to know and immediately frequents the Roman intellectuals’ circle. He becomes friends with Ennio Calabria, Renato Guttuso, Federico Fellini, Mario Missiroli, Piera degli Esposti, Giuliana Calandra, Vittorio De Sica, Marina Malfatti, Goffredo Parise, Paolo Volponi and many other artists who usually move within the capital city. In this way he joins the varied and stimulating environment that has pushed him to wish to leave Bologna.
This is an important time for Sergio Vacchi: many people are interested in his extremely peculiar art. His works are not only appreciated and hold in high esteem by critics and owners of art galleries, but are also purchased by prominent collectors such as Carlo Ponti and Sofia Loren, who in the 1970s buy 110 of Vacchi’s paintings.
From 1962 to 1968 Vacchi dedicates himself to three important cycles (The Council, The Death of Frederick the Second Hohenstaufen and Galileo Galilei semper), that testify how much Rome and its fascination lead him to create.
All these themes aim at portraying the ecclesiastic, historical and scientific power.
At this point the artist detaches himself from the Informal, develops and overcomes the social themes that, even if “figurative”, could no longer stay shapeless.
In The Council’s canvas, realized in 1962, the subjects become thrones, papal tiaras and cloaks and are all reviewed through a clear phallic morphology, where the ecclesiastic power is shown in its most corrupted atmosphere. The colors still assume the gloomy hints of the Informal, but what emerges from the new cycle are the gold, symbol of a corrupted pomp, and the bloody red that nearly totally invades the canvas: he goes from the new interpretations of the Roman Baroque tonalities to the visionary atmospheres (nearly apocalyptical omens) of the Scipio canvas.
In March 1963 he exhibits his works at the Odyssia Gallery in Rome with a presentation by Maurizio Calvesi and in the summer 1963 he displays his first comprehensive exhibition cured by Crispolti at the L’Aquila Castle. In 1964 he was given a whole room at the Biennale in Venice to show The Council’s works. After this Venice Patriarch Urbani prohibited the clergy to view the works.
In the same year he exhibits at the Nuova Pesa Gallery in Rome. The catalogue contains critic essays by Renato Barilli, Enrico Crispolti, Giuseppe Raimondi and Antonello Trombadori.
In May 1965 he marries Letizia Balboni, as soon as she divorces from the film-maker Michelangelo Antonioni.
In the meantime Vacchi travels in Germany and visits the museums where he finds the artists of the Nordic tradition to whom he felt the closest: Grosz, Grünewald, Kollwitz, Radzwill and many others. In particularly, he gets to know Otto Dix’s work, his vigorous and objective style, his perverse erotic vein. He will always feel a bond with this deeply psychological author.
In 1966 Vacchi exhibits a series of portraits at La Medusa Gallery in Rome. The catalogue, Sergio Vacchi’s Portraits, is edited by Paolo Volponi. All his characters belong to the cultural circle that the artist gets to know in Rome.
In 1966 he also starts working on a new cycle dedicated to a great emperor, Frederick the Second. It contains 25 drawings on paper that can be interpreted as preparatory studies for a big painting called The Death of Frederick the Second Hohenstaufen. Italian Notturno (cm 400×230), belonging to Carlo Ponti and Sofia Loren. This cycle is shown for the first time at the Sanluca Gallery in Bologna and, later on, at the San Carlo Gallery in Naples. The catalogue is edited by Ciro Ruju, whereas the essay about Italian Notturno is by Sergio Vacchi. The papal red and gold in The Council are now substituted by the silver and metal-shaded colors that outline every detail and make the painter’s search more analytical. In this cycle everyday life objects such as chairs, ties and telephones appear in the most unrelated contexts, as if Vacchi wanted to present them as ambiguous entities coming from a different reality.
The telephone, though, will be the most represented object in his later paintings, an object that at times is left apart and at times (like in the series Leonardo Codice Verso. Il ritorno e l’andata, 1993-1997) becomes the main symbol of the destruction of privacy and personal freedom. In 1966 Vacchi starts Galileo Galilei semper, the last cycle of works (around 80) about the power. In these picture the scientist doesn’t portray the power of science, but much more the failure of a dialogue between the sciences and the papal authority and the Inquisition. The numerous Galileo’s busts, surrounded by the traditional iconographic repertoire and unrelated objects dated 20th century that Vacchi loves adding, are deformed by the exaggerated proportions of the head, as if the author wanted to highlight the great scientist’s brain and intelligence through his head’s enlargement. Here too metal-shaded and silver colors, settings recalling lunar landscapes, a kind of timelessness that allows us all to live the moral blackmails binding us to a conformist and reactionary society prevail.
In 1967-68 Vacchi exhibits the cycle Galileo Galilei semper in the Reggio Emilia Town Hall Exhibition Room and then at the Nuova Pesa Gallery in Rome. In 1968 he also starts a dense cycle of works called The Planet. They are all paintings showing women at the seaside. They are thin and tall women, with long, smoothy hair that covers their backs, posing sensually together with a man, always the same man that embodies the artist himself. These two main characters are normally naked, like Adam ad Eve, and sorrounded by dogs, horses or peacocks. They pose in an environment that is impossible to identify, but mainly looks like a hominous desert under a sky full of leaden clouds; at times there is also a building, an historical vestige of the past witnessing a civilization that can still be saved, in the distance.
Crispolti interpreted this cycle as a holiday, a moment of meditation in a time, like the 1970s, when a strongly politicized trend was invading the arts. This idea of a poetical and romantic evasion will be later on revised from a sociological point of view: those sterile and desolated places were simply icons of the historical crisis that humanity was going through.
The 1970s and the 1980s were full of work and events for Vacchi. He exhibits his works in many Italian galleries and critic essays written by historians and friends increase. In1970 Lorenza Trucchi edits the catalogue of the exhibition at the Sanluca Gallery in Bologna, whereas Giuliano Briganti and Enzo Siciliano present the catalogue Sergio Vacchi at Il Gabbiano Gallery in Rome.
1973 is a very prolific year: Il Gabbiano Gallery in Rome shows Finisterre, the last painting of the cycle The Planet, realized in 1972. In Florence at L’Indiano Gallery Pietro Santi presents the catalogue Florence: Sergio Vacchi’s landscapes dedicated to the city, whereas in Arezzo Giorgio Di Genova cures a comprehensive exhibition named Five settings of Vacchi’s Painting, with an homonymous catalogue, at the Town Hall Gallery of Contemporary Art.
His imagination keeps on evolving in another cycle, the Piscine lustrali, started in 1974. These paintings are full of sensual and erotic contents showed through the constant presence of two phallic columns, surrounded by a atmosphere even gloomier and dismaller than the one in The Planet. Solitary characters dwell in nebulous spaces full of smoke, where polluted and infected swimming pools exhale stenches close to the ones described in Dante’s Inferno.
In 1974 Vacchi also exhibits his works at the exhibition Mythological Itinerary (catalogue by Giuliano Briganti) at the Oca Gallery in Rome, together with Bocklin, De Chirico and Savinio. During this exhibition a strange episode happened, one of those that Vacchi told during his lecture at the Certosa di Pontignano on 25th January 2000. « During the exhibition, some days after the opening, I was walking through Via Condotti in front of the Cà d’Oro Gallery when I saw Giorgio De Chirico sitting on an armchair. The Gallery’s manager, Antonio Porcella, asked me to go inside. The first feeling I had was that I was looking for trouble. I, an unknown boy who exhibited his works together with the De Chirico’s ones, was about to be introduced to De Chirico, who was nearly 90. However the pleasure and curiosity to meet De Chirico were too strong and I went in. The manager says “Master, I would like to introduce you to the painter Vacchi, whose works are on display at the Mythological Itinerary exhibition.” He looks at me and says “Who are you?”, And I say “I am Sergio Vacchi, Master”. And he says back to me “What is you job?”. At that point I didn’t know whether I should have expressed my deep indignation or be respectful once again. I decided to be polite and replied “I am a painter, Master”. So he wrote a dedication on my catalogue “To Sergio Vacchi with my best wishes” and I left the gallery. Some years after I went to the Cà d’Oro Gallery and talked to Antonio Porcella and Cristina, his wife, who in 1975 organized the exhibiton that paid homage to De Chirico and in which Guttuso, Cagli, Gazzera and I participated. They told me that during the exhibition Isa De Chirico said “Giorgio, come here and look at what an amazing painter this Vacchi is”. And De Chirico replied “Yes, you are right, Isa.”
In 1975 Vacchi realizes four big paintings (cm 460×300): Della Melanconia, Perché il Pianeta, Intorno al Buonarroti, Della perdita o del ritrovamento. These works depict Vacchi’s further interrogation about human existence. In that same year they were shown in the Reggio Emilia Town Hall Exhibition Room and the catalogue, Perché il Pianeta, was edited by Pierre Gaudibert and Antonio Del Guercio.
In 1971 the Bagheria Gallery of Modern Art hosts a cycle (around 50 paintings) that Vacchi realized under the influence of the strong impressions he had at Villa Palagonia that same year.
Between 1978 and 1979 he painted The Whims. These works are painted on a wooden panel and represent shells or amorphic entities in settings full of sand at dawn. Vacchi still uses the golds and silvers.
In 1980 he chose the Roman roofs as subjcts. In these pictures he focuses on studying light and color at particular times of the day: the sunset with its reds becoming browns, the sunrise with its brigh colors becoming ochre.
In 1980 these paintings and some other ones are presented by Dario Micacchi in the catalogue Sergio Vacchi in the Allori Room in the Cloister of the Carmine Basilica in Florence.
In 1981 Vacchi organizes the exhibition Vacchi at the Cà’ d’Oro Gallery in Rome. In Atlantide praeco is the catalogue, with essays by Pietro Bonfiglioli and Dario Micacchi. These works portray the theme of the mask, object of simulation that Vacchi loves using as an ermeneuthic tool while showing himself as a prophet. At times Vacchi seems to to force his own hand and exhibit himself in order to not disappear. Behind his masks, his deformed and grotesque figures, it is very often possible to see the Master’s face and this tendency epitomizes how strongly art and life for Vacchi are intertwined. In the middle of the 1980s Vacchi begins living cut off from the cultural circles, even though he still lives in the city, and retreats into himself, into his personal dilemmas that clearly influence the iconography of his contemporary paintings.
In 1983 the Cà d’Oro Gallery features an exhibition of Vacchi’s works for a week: Delle porte iniziatiche. The critic essays in the homonymous catalogue are by Dario Bellezza, Enrico Crispolti and Bertrand Marret. The works are real wooden doors that the artist used both in their own function in his Roman apartment and as basis for his painting. Here the door stands for the absolute ambiguity, a double movement, a metaphor of the coming and going, of the past and the future.
From 1983 to 1986 Vacchi has worked on a new cycle: Nekyia’s Rooms. These characters are portrayed in close spaces, in indoor rooms, surrounded by few objects such as pillows, straw chairs, rag dolls. In these pictures he uses the golds more and more and the backgrounds are painted by a specific attention to the details.
In 1985 the Museum of Archeology and Art of the Maremma area in Grosseto hosts Vacchi’s exhibition: 25 drawings presented by Roberto Tassi and Vittorio Sgarbi.
In 1988 Vacchi rediscovers Marcel Proust: he reads Proust’s works again and interprets them in a new way. So a series of paintings inspired by the great writer take shape: the painter portrays Proust dancing, surrounded by ghost-like dancers, while adorning his partner with a girdle. In these pictures Vacchi shows the solitude of a genius, the estrangement, the visionary way to approach life.
In the 1980s Vacchi realizes a series of portraits, a work that is still in progress, together with other cycles. The subjects are friends of his, characters whom he loved or admired, such as Samuel Beckett, Franz Kafka, Alberto Savinio, Francesco Arcangeli, Giuliano Briganti, Roberto Tassi, Otto Dix, Greta Garbo, Francis Bacon and many others.
In 1989 Enzo Siciliano presents the exhibition 1949-1988: 25 Paintings at La Gradiva Gallery in Rome.
In 1990 a big Vacchi’s comprehensive exhibiton is organized in Castenaso, his home village: around 150 works (both drawings and paintings) are on display in the Town Hall Council Room and in the former farmstead Casa Bondi.
In 1991 another comprehensive exhibiton, Chaos, the Informal, Eros. Works from 1948 to 1990 is organized at the Gallery for Modern Art in Paternò and introduced by Francesco Gallo.
In 1991 he participates in the exhibition Subsidenze. Maledetti e Romantici together with Fieschi, Francese, Moreni and Perez, that takes place in S. Croce sull’ Arno and is cured by Nicola Micieli.
That same year also Viareggio pays homage to the painter during the 62nd Literary Prize Viareggio-Repaci, where some of the works from the Abraham cycle (realized between 1989 and 1991) are shown. His own image is present in the most diverse contexts and in these pictures too, but maybe it is more a matter of vanity than a true obsession.
On 6th February 1993 he marries his partner Marilena Graniti, with whom he had already lived for 8 years. They met in June 1977 at one of his exhibitions at Il Centro Gallery in Ancona. Since then Marilena has become his muse, the protagonist of his paintings. Consciously and inconsciously at the same time a thin and tall female figure with long, smoothy hair strides onto the stage of his paintings. After several relationships that Vacchi defied “unhealthy and negative”, “the Master found his Margarita”, with whom he is still living.
In 1993 the artist started working on a new cycle called Leonardo Codice Verso. These paintings (around 40) had been unpublished since some months ago and tell the surreal story of Leonrdo da Vinci’s return to Italy in the modern times of technology. Besides this long-haired man dominating the sketch there are mobile phones, symbols standing for the change in social life, major images of a destroyed personal freedom, corrosive presences that mark such a visionary journey set up by Vacchi’s paintings.
In 1994 the Palazzo della Permanente in Milan hosts the exhibition Sergio Vacchi. Itinerario nei suoi miti. 1948-1993. Giovanni Testori strongly promoted the exhibition, in which the critics Barbara Rose, François Fossier and Erich Steingraber also took part.
In 1996 the Spazio Italia Gallery in New York sets up a personal exhibition named Vacchi. Virtual life, presented by the critic Barbara Rose. That same year the comprehensive exhibition of the Palazzo della Permanente in Milan moves to the Boca Raton Museum in Miami (Florida).
In 1997 Vacchi moves once again. He leaves Rome and settles in Tuscany, in the area around Siena. In the same region, at the Grotti Castle, the Sergio Vacchi Foundation was established eight years ago and since then it has been organizing different cultural activities such as exhibition, conferences, plays and concerts.
The Foundation’s exhibition rooms have hosted several events since 1999, among which Segno e Visione featuring Francisco Goya’s graphic works (260 engravings coming from the Prado Museum in Madrid), Il segno espressionista with Florentine and Sienese artists’ works, and a collection of engravings and drawings by German Expressionists like Kathe Kollwitz, Otto Dix, Georg Grosz and Max Beckmann.
In 2001 the Foundation’s exhibition rooms and its park hosted many different paintings and sculptures by foreign artists living in Tuscany. Settings and landscapes change but the artist’s style is faithful to itself: Vacchi keeps on portraying his friends (many of them are dead now) and working on Greta Garbo’s portraits, who has become the protagonist of a new cycle. The roles that this great actress played, her chamaleonic life, her passion for disguising herself on the stage and, above all, her need for introspection and distance from Hollywood worldly life inspire Vacchi’s creativity. In the summer 2001 he organizes at his own Foundation an exhibition, Giorgio Strehler-Sergio Vacchi: l’incontro di due artisti intorno al mito di Greta Garbo, dedicated to the images of this woman.
In 2002 Giovanni Testori al Castello di Grotti, an exhibition featuring Giovanni Testori’s paintings I nudi and Testori’s portraits painted by his friends, takes place.
Three years after Augusto Perez’s death, from July to September 2003 the Vacchi Foundation pays homage to the tragically visionary imagination of one of the major Italian sculptors in the late 20th century.
Since the 1990s several protagonists of both reality and fiction have populated Vacchi’s paintings: dancing harlequins, monkeys with mobile phones, animal carcasses and obviously portraits. This variety of subjects shares a common trait: the backgrounds surrounding the figures in the foreground are teeming with skyscrapers or pyramids. The skyscrapers are tall, silver, wrapped in a cloudy sky, full of smoke or, at times, completely red, as if forecasting coming catastrophes, like in the Comunicazione urgente di Margherita al suo Maestro (2000).
From 16th September to 15th October 2001 Vacchi exhibits his works in one of the most suggestive museums in Florence, Andito degli Angiolini, in Palazzo Pitti. The catalogue Sergio Vacchi. La sua arte la sua collezione is edited by Antonio Paolucci.
For the first time the artist shows both the works realized during the last 5 years and the works realized by artists whom he loves and has been collecting over the years.
On 22nd April 2002 12 drawings and a self-portrait by Vacchi are purchased by the Uffizi Museum.
That same year Palazzo Ricci in Macerata features the exhibition Sergio Vacchi during the 5th Scipione Prize awarded to Vacchi himself. The catalogue Il percorso avulso,fra 1948 e 2002 is edited by the art historian and Vacchi’s friend Enrico Crispolti.
In 2002 a big, emblematic painting named Il Quadrato Magico (cm 200 x 434) is shown to the public for the first time at the Circolo Artistico di Bologna. It is a picture that epitomizes and communicates ancient and hidden symbols, omens regarding the future, and depicts the bridge between life and death, sacred and profane.
The whole picture is based on the Quadrato Magico, «rotas, opera, tenet, arepo, sator”, an odd enigma dated before the Vesuvius eruption in AD 79 and found in a graffito at the Pompeii archeological excavations in 1939. Strange harmonies and combinations of inexplicable events have often characterized Vacchi’s painting, as the work of a magical and moden prophet whose inspiration place him in the wake of many other artists in the past.
On 13th December 2003 the comprehensive exhibition Greta Garbo and Sergio Vacchi is opened at Palazzo del Ridotto, the Cesena Town Hall Art Gallery. An important volume, edited by Nicola Micieli and Sergio Vacchi, is published by the Vacchi Foundation Publisher on this occasion; it is a fundamental iconographic document of the exhibition that also includes the critic literature that has described Vacchi’s work over the years, testifying his critic and innovative ideas of first rank in the artistic scenario of the Italian and European 20th century.
On 28th May 2005 at the Leonardo Da Vinci Museum in Vinci and at Leonardo’s birthhouse in Anchiano a big cycle realized between 1993 and 1997 is shown to the public: Leonardo Codice Verso Il ritorno e l’andata. The 20 big paintings of this series and the preparatory sketches bring the genius from Vinci to the present time. Vacchi imagines that Leonardo comes back home by bike (a means of transport that Lenardo had already designed) and, by doing so, creates a short circuit between Leonardo’s originary humanistic world and the cultural landscape of the 20th century.
From 16th July to 2nd October 2005 the exhibition Omaggio a Vacchi in Pittori figurativi italiani della seconda metà del XX secolo with a catalogue edited by Armando Ginesi takes place at the Mole Vanvitelliana in Ancona. In the same year a volume dedicated to Vacchi’s works from the 1980s is published: Monologo di Grotti, edited by Manuela Crescentini, Donzelli Publisher, Roma. The book is a direct dialogue with one of the major living Italian painters. On one side his solitary, counter-current, poetic-imaginary world, emerges. On the other side the book underlines the complexity of the human relationships with the literati (Moravia, Garbali, Maraini), with people working in movies-making (Ponti, Vittorio De Sica, Fellini), with the philosophers (Garroni), with people working in fashion (Luisa Spagnoli) and in the arts (Moranti, De Chirico, Guttuso, Balthus) that the author has been building since he was a child. The book gives a lively and emotionally-characterized cross-section of the Italian society and culture in the last 50 years of the 20th century. The huge, extant critic literature about the artist’s work comprises essays by Arcangeli, Crispolti, Briganti, Testori, Rose, Restany. The biographical section, the documents summary and the rich iconography allows the book to be a thorough and useful tool to enter Sergio Vacchi’s universe.
In 2006 the artist’s works were shown at different exhibitions:
Alba Adriatica, Villa Il Gattopardo, Alba Adriatica e il Novecento da Giorgio de Chirico a Corneille, 30 September – 7 October 2006 (catalogue edited by Luciano Caprile, Acquaviva Picena, 2006)
Cesenatico, Galleria Comunale d’Arte Leonardo da Vinci, Novecento secondo. Maestri dell’arte italiana. Opere dalla Casa Museo Remo Brindisi, 29 July – 27 August 2006 (catalogue edited by Claudio Ceredi, Orlando Piraccini, Laura Buffoni, Rimini 2006)
Marsala, Convento del Carmine, Una natura altra. Natura, paesaggio nell’arte italiana 1950-1962, 8 July – 30 October 2006 (catalogue edited by Sergio Troisi, Enzo Sellerio Publisher, Palermo 2006)
Ravenna, Museo d’Arte della città di Ravenna, Turner Monet Pollock. Dal romanticismo all’informale. Omaggio a Francesco Arcangeli, 19 March – 23 July 2006 (catalogue edited by, Mondadori Electa, Milano 2006)
Venezia, Cà Pesaro, Galleria Internazionale d’Arte Moderna, Premio Do Forni 1986 – 2006, 12 November – 7 January 2007 (catalogue edited by Enzo Di Martino, Venezia 2006).
On 25th April 2007 in Bologna, his home town, he is awared with the Marconi 2007 Prize for Painting, catalogue edited by Claudio Cerritelli. From 25 March al 29 July 2007 in Verona at the Palazzo della Ragione he participates in the exhibition organized by da Giorgio Cortenova , Il Settimo Splendore. La modernità della malinconia.
From 22nd March to 27th April 2008 at Galleria Comunale d’Arte Cesuola in Cesena takes place the exhibition Le buste di Sergio Vacchi. Personaggi in cerca d’autore (catalogue: Bandecchi & Vivaldi, Pontedera 2008, text by Janus).
During the same year Vacchi takes part to several exhibitions, among which:
Palermo, Galleria Studio 71, Una ferita mai sanata, 25 October – 30 November 2008.
Santa Sofia (FC), Galleria d’arte contemporanea “Vero Stoppioni”, Le rose del “Campigna”. Il premio di pittura dalla memoria all’attualità, 27 July – 28 September 2008 (catalogue: Bononia University Press, Bologna 2008; edited by O. Pieraccini, introduction by E. Crispolti).
During the Olympic Games of Beijing Vacchi’s art works are exhibited at the National Museum of Modern Art (The third Beijing International Art Biennale, China 2008), 8 July – 28 August 2008.
From 6th November to 6th December Vacchi exhibits one of his work at the exhibition Omaggio a Giorgio De Chirico (Roma, Galleria Ca’ d’Oro, catalogue edited by Antonio and Gloria Porcella).
During 2009 Vacchi’s works were shown at different exhibitions:
Bologna, Fondazione Carisbo, Palazzo Saraceni, Paesaggi. Villaggi. Contrade. Pittura emiliana tra ‘800 e ‘900, 29 October – 13 December 2009.
Bologna, Palazzo d’Accursio, Sala d’Ercole, Mostra degli artisti insigniti del Premio G. Marconi dal 1988 al 2009, edited by C. Cerritelli and B. De Gioia, 14 – 28 November 2009.
Calcata (VT ), Galleria Le tele tolte, I maestri del ‘900, 11 – 26 April 2009. Loro Piceno (MC), Maniero Art Club, Maestri dal ‘900, 14 March – 27 April 2009. Rimini, Castel Sismondo and Palazzo del Podestà, Contemplazioni. Bellezza e tradizione del Nuovo nella pittura italiana contemporanea, 5 August – 6 September 2009 (catalogue: Christian Maretti Editore, 2009; edited by A. Agazzari). Solo exhibition in Berlin Sergio Vacchi. Ritratti del mondo del Cinema, 7 February – 20 March 2009 (Galerie Eva Poll, catalogue with text by Enrico Crispolti and Peter Kammerer).
In 2010 Vacchi exhibts his works in Milan at the Studio d’arte del Lauro, Affioramenti. Percorsi della pittura informale, 13 May – 20 June 2010 (catalogue: Studio d’arte del Lauro, Milan 2010; edited by Claudio Cerritelli) and then in San Severo (FO), Vacchi takes part at the exhibtion Segni del Novecento. Disegni italiani dal Secondo Futurismo agli anni Novanta, edited by Massimo Bignardi.
In 2011 the artist’s works were shown in Genova at Circolo Culturale La Maddalena, at the exhibition Rivisitazione dell’informale italiano. Then at M.A.R. Museum in Ravenna Vacchi takes part at the exhibition L’Italia s’è desta. Arte in Italia nel secondo dopoguerra 1945-1953, edited by Claudio Spadoni, from 13th February to 26th June.
In Baronissi (SA), at Museo-Fondo Regionale d’Arte Contemporanea, takes part at the exhibition Carte contemporanee. Esperienze del disegno italiano dal 1943 agli anni Novanta. Omaggio a Ugo Marano, 9 December 2011 – 12th February 2012, edited by Massimo Bignardi.
At the end of 2011, published by Skira, is finalized the General Catalogue Raisonnè of Sergio Vacchi’s paintings, edited by Enrico Crispolti (Sergio Vacchi. Catalogo ragionato dei dipinti 1948-2008).
From 27th October to 22nd December 2013 takes place the 55th Campigna Awards in Santa Sofia (FC), at the Contemporary Art Gallery Vero Stoppioni, that celebrates Sergio Vacchi through an impressive solo exhibition: Sergio Vacchi una vita contigua presented by Enrico Crispolti and Philippe Daverio.
Info and contacts
Fondazione Vacchi – Castello di Grotti
Ville di Corsano
Monteroni d’Arbia 53014
Tel: +39.0577.377181 – +39.0577.377267
Mob: +39.338.8151865 – +39.333.5959879
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