From November 11th, 2021 to March 7th, 2022

The exhibition is a tribute of the Poldi Pezzoli Museum to Federico Zeri (Rome, August 12,1921 – Mentana, October 5, 1998) on the centenary of his birth.

Federico Zeri was one of the most important connoisseurs and art historians of the 20th Century. 

As he used to define himself he was a free spirit and an anti-conformist but at the same time very rigorous and endowed with a prodigious visual memory. He left in his writings an immense legacy of knowledge, research, attributions, they still today are a point of reference for those who study the history of Italian art, in particular painting from the 13th Century to the Cinquecento.

His study instrument was, along with his vast knowledge of the artistic heritage, his incomparable photo library, built up over the course of a lifetime, which belongs to every citizen thanks to the Federico Zeri Foundation, based in Bologna at the “Alma Mater” University.

The exhibition, curated by Andrea Bacchi – director of the Federico Zeri Foundation in Bologna – and Andrea Di Lorenzo – director of the Ginori Museum in Florence –, explores and reconstructs the complex and variegated relationships built over the years by the great connoisseur with many institutions, museums and Milanese collectors.

Around thirty works are on display at the exhibition: apart from two paintings left to the Museum through a testamentary bequest of the scholar, which have been subjected to new research and in-depth studies, many other works of great interest that belong to other museums and private collections are exhibited. There all are pieces with which Zeri dealt in his studies and publications, or which he suggested directly for purchase.

Apart from an informative video, the exhibition will screen a selection of lectures given by Federico Zeri at some prestigious Italian institutions throughout the last years of his life, which have also become a “cult” for the general public.

The exhibition layout has been curated by Sistemamanifesto, with the supervision of the architect Beppe Finessi, and it explores the relation between space and memory, a very close theme to Zeri, who had an exceptional visual memory. The project has been thought as an instrument to facilitate the memorisation of the works on display and their placement, inviting the visitors to follow Zeri’s method. The rooms of the museum have been divided in regular, sequential and symmetrical spaces, as the Rhetorical treatises of the Antiquity suggested to structure our memories in an efficient way; also Zeri seems to have followed these rules to arrange his library and photo collection inside his Villa in Mentana. This ensemble allows the paintings to be divided into thematic cores.

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