“Of all other ways... the most masterly and beautiful.”
This is how, in the sixteenth century, Giorgio Vasari (1511 - 1574) , painter, architect and historian of Arezzo (which marks the fifth centenary of his birth), described the fresco painting. A mural painting technique that exploits the reaction of lime with air to fix the colour to the plaster and make it indelible. It has been practiced since ancient times but spread out in the Middle Ages and Renaissance with Giotto , Lorenzetti, Benozzo Gozzoli , Simone Martini and Cenino Cennini. In the Baroque period it reached its prime with Masaccio, Mantegna, Signorelli, Michelangelo, Pietro da Cortona, Carracci, Tiepolo. While intimately linked to the architectural context, it exploits visuals and perspectives and fits in it enhancing lights and breakdowns. It is a painting suitable for narration; a wall book that explains, illustrates, makes one wonder. Often the painting blends in with the environment that hosts it, is forced into it and comes out with a special dynamism. It uses the same materials of architecture : lime plasters and mineral pigments. The communicative power of mural paintings lie in their contextualization but also in the evocative power which the works are able to convey to those who benefit from them.
The Legend of the True Cross
In 1920, Jose Clemente Orozco, a Mexican social – realism muralist, stated that “The highest expression of painting, the most logical, the purest and the most notable is the mural ... it is for the people and can not be concealed for the benefit of a privileged few”. This concept was also reiterated by the “graffiti artist “ Keith Haring in 1987. He admitted that “it is increasingly clear for me that art is not ... reserved for the appreciation of a few: art is for everyone”. We could add that Art is for all and it is forever or at least for a long time if materials have been chosen wisely and methods respected. Vitruvius, in the first century BC, decreed that ” ... the walls radiate the most dazzling gloss... an excellent quality meant to last over time”. The theme of the Legend of the True Cross, drawn from the Golden Legend by Jacobus de Voragine (1228 - 1298), has been addressed to by many painters from the late Middle Ages to the Renaissance times. Piero della Francesca’s (1416 - 1492) is universally recognized as one of the most significant stories of the legend that wants to reconstruct the history of the torture of the cross of Jesus, from the wood of the tree of life springing from the burial of Adam to its use during the construction of the temple in Jerusalem and the subsequent recognition by the queen of Sheba, until the discovery by Helena, mother of Constantine, and the final recovery following the defeat of the Persians who had stolen it in an act of defiance. In the Battle of Heraclius against Chosroes II which occurred in 628 AD, the Byzantine emperor Heraclius wins over the king of the Sassanid Persians. The battle is a tangle of men and horses amongst drawn swords and waving flags. An inextricable multitude that appears fixed in the moment of recovery, turning the drama into a didactic representation. Thus Vasari in The Lives “... he expressed effectively in a great battle the fear, animosity, dexterity, strength, affections and accidents excellently considered in those who fight”.
URBAN SCENOGRAPHY & SUSTAINABILITY