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Telematic interview to Anchise Picchi
( The first telematic interview of BTA )
Stefano Colonna
ISSN 1127-4883     BTA - Telematic Bulletin of Art, July 11th 2000, n. 124 (April 16th 1996)
Interviews Area

I found out about Anchise Picchi from a public message on the Internet, distributed by his nephew Lido Pacciardi in English. The interview that I am publishing now has been given to me kindly as I have never met with the artist. I wanted to try a new form of the electronic mail interview. Even though there is much confusion now in the Art the uncle, Anchise, has incredibly precious and clear ideas.

Thanks to Lido Pacciardi and to the artist who feels younger at hearth every year because of the energy that art gives to him.

Question: I read your biography on the Internet and I would like to know more about your life as an artist. Who did you study with at the Art Academy of Rome? Did you meet other artists or intellectuals in Rome?

Answer: I didn't spend much time at the Academy in via di Ripetta because I had to prepare for the State exams to teach design and the history of art. I received a diploma from the Artistic High School by studying externally (I taught myself how to be a painter and a sculptor). I think that it was 1936-37.
I took the written exams in Bologna, because it was the closest place, and the oral exams in Roma. I used to go to Roma occassionally to meet with the professors of that period: Prof. Dasdia, Prof. Duilio Cambellotti ecc. I also became reunited with Fortunato Bellonzi, a friend from my childhood, and Oreste Piccioni who then worked with Enrico Fermi.

Why did you go to Roma and then to Salonicco?

I went to Roma first to take the exams at the Artistic High School, and then the State exams, and as I already mentioned I sometimes went to the Academy to practice my technique in painting and sculpture.
I didn't have a lot of money then, so I got my diploma as quickly as possible while keeping good grades ( I was number ten out of 108 people to pass the exams in all of Italy).
I applied to teach schools everywhere because it was easier to get a job outside of Italy, and the pay was higher. My preference was Greece since it was the birthplace of art. I was there until 1941. During the second World War I was forced to leave the country. When I returned to Italy, I was able to completly dedicate myself to painting and sculpturing which was my true passion.

Which past artists do you feel closest to?

It's obvious that I most admire Michelangelo and all of the great artists of the `500s, and of course the ones that came previously. I really like the school of Macchiaioli, particularly, Fattori, Lega, and Signorini. I was in contact with Gioli and especially Luigi. I made the head of an older man from frassino wood with a little knife, and gave it to Luigi as a gift. In return, he gave me a painting of a country market. During wartime I didn't have any gouge, so I had to improvise. My paintings were then influenced by the macchiaioli's school. The years of `47/48 I began to only work on original paintings and copying famous works, for example, "Madonna della Seggiola", "Madonna del Cardellino". The copies that I made were exclusively for practice, and they allowed me to make them directly in the Galleries. The paintings of Giotto and of Beato Angelico are so innocent and pure that I feel deeply connected with them. This kind of "francescano" spirit I always tried to incorporate into my works.

Was your nephew Lido responsible for introducing you to computer graphics?

He didn't push me into it. He only showed me the possibilities for using colors of the new electronic medium. When I saw this, I wanted to try it and I found myself immersed in an extraordinary world of light and colors. I couldn't avoid it. I always looked for light and color, a perfect harmony. In front of me was a pure light, a palette of an infinity of colors. How could I resist? There isn't much of a difference between a paint-brush and a mouse. The quality of a poem does not depend on the type of pen used.

In your works, one can tell that you have a "divisionista" style: which painter do you most reflect?

It's true! I am happy that you noticed it. Annigoni always used to tell me the same. I don't reflect anybody specifically: for me it's something that comes naturally from the research of the poetry of the light and color. This mode of working is strictly mine, of my feelings, even though my works are diverse in technique.
Today, Art isn't discussed very often in the mass media. In reality maybe it's different: What do you think about it?
The power and the flexibility of the media could be instrumental for the diffusion of culture and art. At least it could assist in efforts to save and respect our unique and rich culture. As anyone can see, the media doesn't do this except on rare occassions. Perhaps what the media shows is politically motivated. Italian art has a unique history which could never be repeated. We have the greatest heritage of art and story in the world, and everyone else knows more about it than us.
In our cities, we are in constant contact with art. It's in every corner of every street. However, very few ever pay attention to it. Many people don't even know how to recognize it's value. The splendid marble of the Duomo in Pisa, not too far from where I live, is covered with awful scribbling.
The state should be responsible for taking care of things like this. After that, at least the local administrations should. The media only covers stories that will make money, so they treat art with disregard. I think that it would be a good investment for people if art is discussed intelligently in the media. It would benefit everyone.

In the end, what is the ultimate goal of art?

As I live it, artistic creations become an essential part of my life. For the artist there isn't a beginning or ultimate purpose. It's only pure necessity, satisfaction, and anxiety. But art, considered in the grandest sense, not individually, is a production of civilization which all fits together. Finishing something gives an artist the greatest feeling of relief, and it represents the end of his idea which has materialized in the work of art. At that time the work begins to live its own life, and the artist is disconnected. Then the work is interpreted differently by everyone who sees it, and it becomes a part of them.

What is the ultimate goal? It's a very important question, but it's impossible to answer. Maybe it is to win our pure rationality? Maybe it is to enter into the world of dreams and poetry?
We don't know now, and we never will.
We know that a society without art is one without a story. Such a society would never exist. And I don't think that it ever has.
Art is born from myth. Art is myth. Art speaks to us from ages past, and from the depths of ourselves like from the darkness of the time of the prehistoric cave paintings. The art is there for no apparent reason (is there one for the universe?), it renders a little liberty to us in our weak human condition. I don't know what else to say, and I'm not sure that I answered your question.

In your works, I see the revival of the Rennaissance artist-scientist. Do you think so?

This is true. Yes! I see myself in what you say. Just for curiosity, I developed some techniques to save the Tower of Pisa. Often I make my own instruments. I always try to experiment with new techniques. My nephew knows that very well. When he threw the line (i.e.,the computer), he was sure that he would catch me!

Can you tell us some interesting stories about your life as an artist?

I can tell you one curious story.
Many, many years ago the copy of the "Madonna della Seggiola" exposed in Venice. I don't remember where.
Giovanni XXIII, who at that time was "patriarca" of Venezia, saw it and fell in love with it. He asked about buying it. Monsignor Capovilla, secretary, let Giovanni know that the work was made by Raffaello for a private family and not for the church, so it was not consecrated. They couldn't buy it. The copy remained unsold and I was poorer than ever.
This experience made an impression on me, and since then it has made me think about the different events that a painting, even if it's a copy, will find in the world after its creation.
All this gives me new arguments to try to reply the previous question, about the ultimate goal of the art: to help itself to live again every time. The real and perfect work was never born. It was only in the mind. It lives its own life there.

We would like to thank the following for working on the English translation:

Meredith Mason and Rita Di Pietro.



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