In Treviso, a 14th-century convent, which has returned to its former glory thanks to the original intervention of Studio Mas and the archistar Heinz Tesar, hosts the collections of Arturo Martini, the greatest sculptor of the 20th century, and, until July 2023, the exhibition which pays homage to his most important masterpieces.
A place full of history and suggestions, which preserves almost a thousand years of city history within its walls: from when it was founded as a convent in the Middle Ages, then destined for various civic uses, including public library and gymnasium, until it opened as a civic museum in 1888 thanks to the extraordinary passion for collecting of Abbot Luigi Bailo, director of the Municipal Library of Treviso, to whom the museum is dedicated.
Over three thousand square meters of splendid architecture, geometrical symmetries and wonderful zenithal light that make Museo Luigi Bailo one of the most significant Italian museum architectures, thanks to the project by Studio Mas with the collaboration of the Austrian architect Heinz Tesar who managed to combine the monastic soul of the place with a bold stylistic avant-garde.
In Europe in the era in which Martini lived there was no other sculptor at his height.
(Renato Guttuso, 1967)
Today Museo Luigi Bailo houses the largest collection in the world of Arturo Martini, a versatile, cultured and rebellious artist born in Treviso in 1889 who, unable to study as a musician as he would have liked due to the limited resources of his family, began to play with the art of sculpture, soon revealing his extraordinary genius.
“He aspired to an art that intimidated” his great friend and writer Giovanni Comisso would say of him, being Martini an “extreme” sculptor since his first creations. His great patron was Gregorio Gregorj, an enlightened entrepreneur who founded the furnace factory of the same name in Treviso, who, sensing his great talent, helped him to train abroad, such as in Munich, where he came into contact with various avant-gardes.
Restless, Martini immediately distinguished himself: he touched futurism, caressed cubism, reinvented classical art and was inspired by the great civilizations of the past, thanks to a complete mastery of all the technical processes in stone, bronze, terracotta, ceramic, marble. Alongside the monumental Martini, his love for majolica has produced wonderful masterpieces that well document its greatness, such as the splendid Fairy Tale Vase or the Vase with Lions and an Egyptian figure in relief.
Meanwhile, his success grows fast and in 1925 he was invited to the III Roman Biennale, in 1926 he participated for the first time in the Venice Biennale and in the I Mostra del Novecento Italiano at the Permanente in Milan, in 1931 he won the Sculpture Award at the I Quadriennale in Rome and in 1932 he returned to the Venice Biennale with a personal exhibition. In 1933 he moved to Milan and between 1937 and 1939 he carried out large public commissions for the city, such as the friezes of the iconic Palazzo dell’Arengario in Piazza Duomo. In 1947, while walking down the street, he fell ill and was prematurely taken from his life.
His greatness was to blend together, in a revolutionary unicum, classical forms, from Etruscan and Greek art to that of the masters of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, with new plastic concepts, remaining until the end an artist outside the box, totally free and inspired by the sacred fire of creation for eternity, always ready to surpass himself with impossible challenges.
Until 30 July 2023, Museo Luigi Bailo offers the extraordinary opportunity to visit the largest monograph event dedicated to Arturo Martini: from the first early works to the great masterpieces, such as the Prodigal Son, La Pisana, the Lions of Monterosso which are influenced by suggestions of the Etruscan and Assyro-Babylonian chimeras, the Tobiolo, the Adam and Eve and The woman swimming underwater.
In addition to the works of Arturo Martini, the museum’s permanent collections contain many other masterpieces such as, in particular, the works of Gino Rossi, “the greatest impressionist from Veneto” and a close friend of the sculptor.
Museo Luigi Bailo also houses some works of art that Abbot Bailo “literally” saved from destruction with his bare hands, such as the portions of friezes from the former prisons that once stood in Piazza San Vito, and demolished in 1892, with the mottos “Should industry joins art” and “Beauty in all its forms educates to goodness”.
Musei Civici di Treviso
Borgo Cavour 24
Tel. +39 0422 658951
Admittance: full ticket 11 euro, reduced ticket 8 euro