David Gothard: Spoleto and the Arts
“What was that genius of a century (the twentieth) and when on earth was it?”, wrote the great Polish visual artist and writer, Bruno Schulz,of a century when man could return to infantile play and destruction taking the whole of mankind with him. His great translator, the Israeli novelist, David Grossman yesterday, recently, in the twenty-first century, loaded like us all with the millstone of the twentieth, wrote: “The daily reality in which I live surpasses any- thing I could imagine,and it seeps into the deepest parts.”
Spoleto is packed with brutal and sublime history even before the world gives it names. Centuries on, in the twentieth, the history of human creativity is still in the streets, in the very stones as certain artists chose it as an environment in which to live and to express their own accurate and deeply emotional statements that took modernism from revolution, surviving the holocaust, to the likes of conceptual art and minimalism. Sol Lewitt needed to live there in the eighties, in order to give world art a particular and vital voice unique in its transcen- dence. As with Samuel Beckett, the horror of the before had to find a new and clean lan- guage in art that made it possible to go forward.
Amazingly, Anna Mahler, daughter to Alma and Gustav, survivor of the symphonic, some- times unbearable feelings of the twentieth century, had her studio in Spoleto through to those eighties. As a creatively powerful woman, she brought to the overwhelmingly male dominated world of art, stone sculpture moreover, a specific language, recorded on film, that is celebrated in the work of the Mahler & LeWitt Studios.
Anna Mahler was for the last twenty years of her life intimately involved with Spoleto as her daughter Marina is now.
Anna Mahler lived through that twentieth century of refugee status, entangled with its river of art achievement. Spoleto was a warm refuge and inspiration, as it was for all the artists from David Smith to Martha Graham, the images of whose work here are part of its ancient kaleidoscope, waiting to be experienced, focussing peacefully and importantly when required.