This essay focuses on four key works by Pier Paolo Pasolini (1922-75) and Luigi Ontani (b. 1943) that involve tableaux vivants after sixteenth- and seventeenth-century paintings held in Italian churches and museums: Pasolini’s short film La ricotta (1963), and Ontani’s video Favola impropriata (1970-71) and two photographic works – La caduta dei ciechi d’après Brueghel and San Sebastiano nel bosco di Calvenzano (d’après Guido Reni) – also from circa 1970. In the 1960s and 1970s, several other Italian filmmakers and artists referenced past art in their work. Indeed, quotations and allusions to past art are characteristic of an idiosyncratic strain of Italian cinema and art that ran throughout the twentieth century. Ontani, however, stands out for his commitment to referencing past art through performance and impersonation, and his tableaux vivants have their most important precedent in Pasolini.
Palinsesti: Contemporary Italian Art Online Journal
Mecugni, Anna. “A ‘Desperate Vitality’: Tableaux Vivants in the Work of Pasolini and Ontani (1963–1974),” Palinsesti: Contemporary Italian Art Online Journal 1, n. 2: 94–116.