In Treviso, an exhibition tells the most beautiful posters in the history of the big screen through the work of the last "painter of cinema", the great Renato Casaro.
Among the many artistic professions, the poster designer or, more romantically, the “painter” of movie posters is perhaps one of the least known and most fascinating.
A work born after the war, when the majors begin to produce films for the big screen exporting the “American dream” all over the world, which was completely based on manual techniques, such as pencil and tempera, until the advent of computer graphics.
If the Italian school of film posters is the most famous in the world, the Treviso-based Renato Casaro, according to the most important directors, from Sergio Leone to Giuseppe Tornatore, up to, more recently, Quentin Tarantino who wanted him for his latest film, is the crown jewel.
His extensive work, with 1500 posters painted by him and a life spent between Rome, Hollywood, Monaco and the Costa del Sol, is told in the exhibition “Renato Casaro, the last poster designer of cinema. Treviso, Rome, Hollywood” that inaugurated the new National Museum of the Salce Collection in Treviso on 12 June 2021.
The retrospective, set up in three evocative locations – the new Salce headquarters in the former Church of Santa Margherita, the San Gaetano complex and the Santa Caterina Museum, part of the civic museums – tells, through posters, drawings, study sketches and the “originals”, aka the finished work that was used to print the poster, over 170 of the most important films in the history of cinema.
Casaro, born in 1935, a creative genius, is one of the artists who most innovated this form of art. Thanks to his talent in drawing, he began to create the “silhouettes” for the promotion of films in Treviso cinemas, and, prompted by an immediate and positive response, in 1954, at the age of 19, he left for Rome where he worked with the famous Augusto Favalli until 1957 when he opened his own studio, starting a dazzling career.
Movies are my hobby. My hobby is my job. My job is my life. And my life is a technicolor and cinemascope film.
In 70 years of activity, Casaro has worked with the greatest directors of cinema, from Jean-Jeacques Annaud to Ingmar Bergman, from Bernardo Bertolucci to Luc Besson, From Francis Ford Coppola to Sidney Lumet, from Sergio Leone to Giuseppe Tornatore.
The exhibition, curated by Roberto Festi, Eugenio Manzato and Maurizio Baroni, begins with Casaro’s first works for the genres at the time in vogue in Cinecittà such as historical films, comedians, horrors, and the legendary Italian spaghetti westerns. This last genre in particular will bring him a lot of luck, so much so that he will often collaborate with Sergio Leone and his unforgettable cult movies, such as the re-edition of The good, the ugly and the bad. It is the start of his international career and, after a start with brush and tempera, the artist perfects himself more and more in the airbrush technique, which allows him to achieve that hyper-realistic touch that, together with his skills as a portraitist and compositional genius, will get him to work with all the greats and make some of the most famous blockbusters of the 90s.
In fact, some of the posters that have changed the history of cinema have his signature, such as that of Nikita, whose composition – the bloodstain in the foreground with the elegant silhouette of the spy seen from the back on a different parallel level – is according to many critics one of the most significant of the modern era, as well as many others such as Once upon a time in America, The sheltering sky, The last emperor, Dances with wolves, Rambo, 007 Never say never…
The anecdotes would be so many to tell. Like the legendary poster of Lo Chiamavano Trinità – Casaro practically made all the films of the duo Bud Spencer and Terence Hill – from which the director took inspiration, copying a scene in the film from it. Another time Clint Eastwood unexpectedly entered Renato’s studio in Rome to ask him to buy one of the posters that portrayed the famous actor.
The exhibition also offers the opportunity to visit the beautiful new headquarters of the National Museum of the Salce Collection, the second largest in the world of advertising posters after the Musée de la Publicité in Paris with over 50,000 posters perfectly digitally cataloged and available on the Beni Culturali site. The Museum, housed inside Santa Margherita, dating back to the thirteenth century, is the result of an important conservative restoration work, led by the architect Chiara Matteazzi, who saw the former church as the protagonist of an avant-garde architectural project.
A huge reinforced concrete vault was, in fact, built in the center of the main nave to house all the precious posters of the Collection, also ensuring their perfect conservation.
Above the spectacular parallelepiped, a panoramic terrace hosts the temporary exhibitions, offering an unprecedented view of the original valuable architecture of the structure. The beauty of the museum experience is completed by a digital art narration, created by the Pepper’s Ghost studio, which immerses the visitor in the posters and the soundtracks of the most famous films, also giving the opportunity to have fun with multimedia stations and an interactive digital waterfall with immaterial water that “gushes” from the vault to symbolize the creative flow.
The magic of the big screen is really all here, among the immortal stars portraited by Renato Casaro, the last painter of cinema.