It’s rare that I post anything that is not related to books, but after visiting sculptor Filippo Bentivegna’s museum in Sciacca, Sicily, and realizing there is not much online, in English, about him and his work, I decided to publish this short piece and some pictures I took. Like many Italians (including me) did, Bentivegna, born in 1888, emigrated to the United States in 1913, hoping to find a way to make a better living. He lived in New York and settled in Boston. He fell in love with a girl, who apparently had another young man already interested in her. In 1919, during a fight between the two love rivals, Filippo was hit on the head badly enough that the American authorities, considering him unable to work, sent him back to Italy. Back in Sciacca, he went to live in an olive orchard, where he began sculpting heads in stone. He made hundreds of them, creating what he called his kingdom. In town they called him “Filippo the Idiot.” After his death in 1967, his work was left unprotected, and began to be damaged and vandalized. Fortunately, the local authorities finally decided to safeguard such an impressive trove, and the site is now an open-air museum. Here are a few pictures I took during my visit.
About two years ago, the Associazione Culturale Hamelin invited me to have personal exhibition of my work in their beautiful rooms in the center of Bologna. Flattered but equally scared, I accepted the invitation. The show, titled “Vita di uno strano signore,” opened last month during the Bologna Children’s Book Fair and will stay up until May 4.
Here are a series of pictures from opening night, taken by Hamelin’s own Emanuele Rosso. I will post soon a different series of pictures without visitors, to better illustrate what was shown.
Thank-you to all who helped to organize the show and to everyone who visited.
The most important moment of the preparations: stuffing the tigelle.