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    Calendar 2024

    Napoli - Praga:
    Ori e Ombre


After Seville, Prague. When Angelo Ripellino's extraordinary book, Praga magica (Magical Prague), which had influenced and engrossed me so much as a boy, popped up in my library, I knew that the Calendar would have to visit the city of mysteries and wonders. For there can be no end to “the charm, the life of Prague”, and, as the Italian Slavonic scholar writes, “I shall return to it in a dive in Mala Strana, shadows of my youth... I shall go to Prague, I shall take my grandchildren there... my friends, my resurrected parents, all my dead... Prague we shall not give up. Be strong, resist”.

In the 2024 edition of the Calendar, Prague will communicate with Naples. And Massimo Listri will lend visual strength to the magic of the city and its history.

Naples and Prague, two stunning and hypnotic cities, which feed images and transmit legends. Naples, so attractive and multiform, ensnared in a web of narrow alleys and passions, of sounds and smells; an antique beauty, tinged with mystery and magic, like Prague's Mala Strana with its medieval heart, the maze of alleys, ancient courtyards, passageways, churches, synagogues and the exquisite examples of Baroque and Gothic architecture that chase each other through the city grid and often overlap, hiding secrets and stories that have been handed down through time.

The stylistic hallmark of the two cities lies undoubtedly in this shared attraction for mystery, for the invisible, expressed in that sense of living, especially characteristic of the Neapolitans, in which the world of the living and that of the dead are in constant contact and symbiosis.

Prague and Naples are also cities in which rich cultural traditions have been neglected or misrepresented over the centuries.

For many years, Prague's culture and civilisation, in particular, have been neglected by the West, which tended to favour an idea of “Slavic culture”, overlooking the specificity and impressive variety and diversity of Bohemian literature, music and architecture. Just think how Bohemian culture was a crossroads of three languages, Czech, Yiddish and German, and how these traditions filtered and coexisted in Kafka's work.

Neapolitan culture too was reduced to mere folklore or banal stereotypes for years, until leading scholars finally reassessed its importance. This is truly surprising, bearing in mind how much the Italian and Neapolitan languages have coexisted in Naples over the centuries, to the point of becoming common ground.

November in Prague will be an opportunity to discover new things or to see others that we have seen before but which have been lost over the years. It will be a time of entertainment and gathering, of fun and cultural exchange. The intersection of these two great civilisations will also come alive in the passion and reflections of important scholars, journalists, artists and historians who will investigate the most significant similarities between the two cities in the new Calendar.

Generoso di Meo

Generoso di Meo

Alphonse Mucha

Few artists are considered the initiators of an artistic movement. While it is still difficult to precisely identify the pioneers of the Art Nouveau style, who arrived suddenly at the end of the 19th century in reaction to excessive industrialisation, we can nevertheless definitely state that the field of graphic arts succumbed to its lines under the pencil of Alphonse Mucha.

His precocious artistic vocation, nurtured by music and a profound religiosity; Prague and Paris, where he met many greats of his time (Strindberg, Gauguin, Sarah Bernhardt); his first experiences in the theatre, where he would also work as an actor; his stay in Count Khuen Belasi's castle, which would allow him to study at the Académie Juilian; work as an illustrator; America, where he met Charles Crane, who would finance his biggest project, the Slavic Epic; the return to the Prague of the artistic avant-garde; and finally, the much desired birth of the Czechoslovak State, for which he designed the first postage stamp.

The most important Czech artist, father of Art Nouveau and creator of iconic images. At the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century Paris was considered the centre of the art world. It is the so-called Belle Époque, there is great enthusiasm, and Alphonse Mucha, also thanks to his meeting with Sara Bernhardt, becomes the most famous and contested artist of the time.

His works, illustrations, theatre posters and nascent advertising are accessible to all. A new form of communication was born with him: the beauty of flowering maidens, portrayed in a unique mixture of the sacred and the profane, voluptuous and seductive figures, depicted in a unique compositional style, became characteristic of the famous 'Mucha style'. His images immediately became famous worldwide, his style was the most imitated, the powerful beauty of his women entered everyone's collective imagination.

Mucha, however, did not forget his patriotic and social commitment. In 1910 he returned to Prague and devoted almost twenty years to what is considered his greatest masterpiece, the Slavic Epic, a colossal work consisting of twenty enormous canvases in which he recounted the main events of Slavic history.

Alphonse Mucha




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