Romantic Europe - Meeting di Rimini

Romantic Europe


‘When approaching the Romanic artistic expression it is striking to note that it had a capillary diffusion in Europe: this allows one to recognise, alongside the peculiarities of individual regions and schools, the existence of a culture based on values which were accepted at the time as fundamental. These values can be summed up in the expression ‘religious sense of existence’, in the sense of social phenomenon. Obviously, this does not mean considering the Middle Ages as an epoch of pious men, strangers to violence, but merely understanding the dynamics of everyday life at the time. The achievement of this homogeneous cultural dimension is not easily explained by the current methods of historical research. Although they are very valuable for studies of this period because of the quantity of data that they produce, they often do not highlight a rigorous relationship between evolutionary, social, economic and political phenomena. This partially explains the impasse in which some Medieval scholarship, above all that of Marxist background, finds itself today. It is worth noting the wonder with which medieval chronicles so often treat the events which they describe; this reveals an incapacity to comprehend the ultimate meaning of human history, an inadequacy which is never denied or surrendered to, but accepted as the natural condition of man. One should not underestimate the importance of the scholarly work of recent years which has, at different levels and in many fields, cast a great deal of light on the medieval world. Nevertheless, we maintain that one should not lose sight of the teaching which the Middle Ages themselves have transmitted to us as a means of facing their own past, above all when we approach this civilisation by way of its artistic expression. Romanic art is indeed the clearest expression of this capacity for wonder which characterises medieval man. Even when it expresses itself in its grandest, richest forms (for example the French abbeys of Conques and Cluny), Romanic art is never Babel or presumption, but is, at its core, a humble offering to the Father of something which in its fulfilment goes completely beyond the capacity of man, and in front of which wonder is truly the only reasonable attitude. There is, then, a space of mystery which acts in history, revealing itself through things which to man seem like unsuspected fractures or mere coincidences. Not to recognise this implies a conscious or unconscious choice for a reading of the past and the present which is preoccupied more with safeguarding the integrity of its own criteria than with the totality of its object. The exhibition is not intended to present answers that extinguish the wonder provoked in those who come across the monuments and places which it presents; on the contrary it aims to generate and sustain it in everyone.’


22 Agosto 1981