lOur journey into the world of art begins at…
Piero, Louise & Josephine, 1445 – 1947 – 1999
Two, or rather three drops of water: the †Madonna of Mercy” by Piero della Francescawho quite naturally opens his arms wide, lifts his great cloak to invite people to take refuge there, and the “Mom” by Louise Bourgeois, a giant spider mother who keeps her young’s marble eggs in her womb, but stands ready to protect anyone who seeks a home beneath her body. Louise’s mother was a tapestry weaver and so Maman is also the working mother, able to weave the plot of her children’s future and of the world.
Piero della Francesca, Polyptych of the Madonna of Mercy, 1445-1462, Sansepolcro Civic Museum
Louise Bourgeois, mother, 1999
She is a full-fledged Maman there too †Black Venus† Josephine Baker with his “rainbow tribe”, consisting of the twelve children he wanted to adopt from all over the world.
Michelangelo & Jan, 1497 – 2011
Two mothers who caused scandal in very distant times. At its appearance, the “Pietà” by Michelangelo caused quite a bit of confusion in that near-pubescent mother, so much so that she even looked younger than her own son. But so is the Trinity, which Dante himself sings in Paradise: “Virgin Mother, Daughter of Your Son”† More than five centuries later, “Pietà” by Jan Fabre she was even charged with blasphemy.
Michelangelo, Vatican Pietà, 1497-1499
Jan Fabre, The Merciful Dream (Pietà V), 2011
But the fact that Michelangelo’s mother’s face has been replaced by a skull and Jesus’s by his own self-portrait is meant to be nothing more than the intense portrayal of a mother who would like nothing more than to die in her son’s place.
Ambrogio & Vanessa, 1492 – 2006
The “Madonna del Latte” by Bergognonepreserved in the Accademia Carrara, is one of the most tender testimonies of perhaps the richest iconography in the history of Christian art.
Bergognone, Madonna del latte, ca 1492-1495, Bergamo, Carrara Academy
Vanessa Beecroft, White Madonna with Twins, 2006
It looks like the redhead Madonna herself Vanessa Beecroftwho in 2006 takes on the role of Mother Nature protecting her children from fire and nursing (the two orphaned twins Madit and Mongor, who met during a trip to Sudan) across geographic, cultural and genetic boundaries.
Piero & Pino, 1450 – 1964
In another masterpiece by Piero della Francescathe Madonna del Parto frescoes in Monterchi di Arezzo, we find Mary in the role of every pregnant woman, “photographed” in the completely natural gesture of bringing her hand to her hip and arching her back to support the weight of the already pronounced abdomen.
Piero della Francesca, Madonna del Parto, 1450 -1465, Monterchi
Pino Pascali, Pregnancy, 1964
Not so different is “motherhood” immortalized by Pino Pascaliccontemporary image of a lasting pregnancy, stopped at a gamble on the eighth month, in the eternal expectation of giving birth to the future.
Hieronymus & Anish, 1480 – 2004
A famous symbol of motherhood in art, the egg in all cultures signifies life, birth, rebirth, the revelation of a surprise. In his “Garden of Earthly Delights”, Bosch the fate of creation reverses and instead of taking back a humanity emerging from an open shell, he imagines it returning there, seeking a prenatal state.
Hieronymus Bosch, The Garden of Earthly Delights, 1480-90, detail, Prado Museum
Anish Kapoor, Cloud Gate, 2004-06, Chicago, Millennium Park
The same rewind who lives who takes refuge among the great? «Cloud Gate» installed by Anisk Kapoor in Chicago, a big egg-belly ready to welcome the finite and also the infinite: the whole city and the sky reflected in it.
Giacomo & Dorothea, 1730 – 1936
Amid so many depictions of marital mothers struggling to care for their children in their tastefully decorated rooms, Giacomo Ceruti said the Pitocchetto it depicts a very poor mother, exhausted to exhaustion, who has not even milk to feed her child.
Giacomo Ceruti known as Pitocchetto, Mother with Children, c. 1730
Dorothea Lange, migrant mother with three children, 1936
The same fate befell Flores, the “migrant mother” photographed by Dorothea Lange in the image that has become an icon of the American Great Depression: a poor pea-picker mother who lives in a tent with her children.
Francesco & Mariella, 1535 – 2015
Who is not fascinated by the “long-necked Madonna” of parmigianino†
Parmigianino, Madonna with Long Neck, ca 1535, Florence, Uffizi
Mariella Bettineschi, The Next Era (Parmigianino, Madonna with a Long Neck) 2015
In his series «The next era», the artist from Bergamo . tells Mariella Bettineschic it doubles its gaze, as if to say that the mother is the one who, thanks to two pairs of eyes, can see beyond things, shows us how to face the future, is a woman who is able “to see the world bring into the world”.
Massimo & Gillian, 1949 – 2003
Sometimes mother and daughter coincide, they are really one.
Massimo Campigli, mother and daughter, 1949, Mart di Trento
Gillian Wearing, Self Portrait as My Mother, 2003
It happens in a portrait of Massimo Campiglicas well as in “Self-portrait as my mother” by Gillian Bear†
Andrea & Ermanno, 1496 – 1978
Motherhood is not just a personal fact, but a sign of hope and rebirth involving the whole community, if not all of humanity. In “Madonna della Vittoria by Mantegna», The birth of the Child is shared with the communion of saints, within that natural order of things that unfolds on a large pergola, on which are piled fruits swollen with symbolic juices, from cedars (incorruption) to pomegranates (abundance), from the coral that chases away negative presences to the walnut that protects the fruit in a leathery shell.
Andrea Mantegna, Madonna della Vittoria, 1496, Louvre
Ermanno Olmi, The Tree of the Zoccoli, 1978
Children are a guarantee for a future, also in the choral story of “The Tree of Hooves” by Olmi† “Children come into the world alone, without anyone’s help” his wife, who has just given birth to her third child, tells Batist. And if her husband points out that it is “Another Mouth to Feed”she promptly replies: “But no, you don’t have to worry. It goes rigurdì cusa va disìa la pora òsta màma? When a beautiful baby is born, Providence gives him his bundle”†