The Oculus, NYC

ANNIGONI

Portrait of an Artist

"Annigoni was not only the greatest painter of the twentieth century but his works rank with the most celebrated paintings of all time" ~ Bernard Berenson

The award-winning, critically acclaimed motion picture, based on the life and times of the last century's most famous portrait painter, Italian master Pietro Annigoni. This is the first and only film to tell the story of Annigoni. From his artistic birth in Florence, to the height of his fame and fortune Annigoni pursued his own path, standing alone against the forces of modernism in art. Annigoni was a bohemian, a drinker, a fighter and a womanizer, yet the world's most powerful and celebrated people sought him out for portraits. Pietro Annigoni was once called the painter of beautiful women but chose instead to be the painter of beggars.

Annigoni: Portrait of an Artist reveals many of Pietro Annigoni's previously unseen paintings as well as unveiling a lost masterpiece for the first time!

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For the years we were working in Florence and immersed in Annigoni's world, it became hard to imagine that "abstract" or modern painting ever existed. We were surrounded by the last faithful students of Annigoni and it was like stepping back in time. The old artist's most of whom work in studios that have been artist studios since the 1700's, continue to carry on in the ancient "workshop" tradition. They pass down their knowledge to a younger generation of painters. Today these artists not only survive but prosper as portrait painters in perhaps the only city in the world where this is still possible. Many contemporary Florentine artists continue to be stifled or overwhelmed by the weight of Florence's history. But for Annigoni and his followers this is their inspiration. To quote from the Maestro, "It is the duty of every artist to strive to say something new with an old language" As the pendulum of art criticism swings back, the importance of narrative and figurative painting once again asserts itself. And with each passing year the legend of Annigoni grows. Our hope is that this film, Annigoni: Portrait of an Artist will renew interest in the work and ideas of this great artist.

Over a period of four years we spent about a year shooting in Tuscany and this gave us the oportunity to scout our locations in detail, record tests and wait for the right light, day, and even the right season before exposing a shot. Since Florence plays such an important role in the life of Annigoni we wanted to make the city a changing character. The Director of Photography - Duilio Ringressi was inspired to try and capture "the spirit" of Annigoni's "lost" Florence. His mission was to photograph his home town of Florence as never before. This meant at times, the near impossible task of photographing the bustling tourist mecca without people. These beautiful surreal images came to represent the deserted Florence of Annigoni's dreams. The film's visual poetry is born from these images and is due to the talent, patience and diligence of Duilio Ringressi. My dearest friend has since past away. Duilio's friendship, humour and intellegnce will forever be missed by all those who knew and loved him.

was one of the driving forces behind getting this film off the ground and seeing it fly. As a Producer his commitment to this project continues to be unfailing. As an editor he has seamlessly joined the many complex and disparate ideas and images into a concise and lyrical whole. The film owes much to his creativity, spirit and generosity. Richard Bond owns and operates Artatak Films, a Toronto based production company specializing in films on fine arts.

was a genuine gift to the production. Through her herculian efforts she secured the rights to photograph hundreds of paintings. Everything from the famous "war sketches" in the Uffizi Gallery to The Royal Collection of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. This was a long and grueling task as many of the paintings were in private hands, some had been lost, and some had never been photographed before. She also was able to gain access to sacred and previously unattainable locations thus greatly enriching the production. It was Amy's quiet determined resolve that gave us our most valuble asset, the works of Annigoni. Amy Barnes is a producer and co-owner of Rainbow Films. Rainbow Films is a complete film and video production facility located in the heart of Florence, it was founded in 1979.

composed and conducted the magical and award winning musical score for Annigoni: Portrait of an Artist. Mr. Burbi is an accomplished musician who has a rich repertoire of original work that has been performed worldwide. I first encounted Stefano Burbi's music in Toronto. He was conducting the Canadian Chamber Academy in a performance dedicated to the restoration of Florence after a murderous explosion outside the Uffizi Gallery in 1992. I was extremely moved by the composition "Adagio Per Firenze." Our ideas and personalities clicked and we soon became fast friends. Mr. Burbi is also a Florentine and a fan of Annigoni. Meeting Stefano seemed like Divine inspiration. Our time together became a collaboration of a lifetime. I can not imagine the music being more "in tune" or sympathetic with the images in the film, and the ideas of Annigoni. The music was recorded in the ancient mountain church of Sacra Famiglia, which is perched in Fiesole, overlooking Florence. Legend has it that Leonardo da Vinci attempted his first flight on the mountain side beside the small church. Each evening with all the musicians packed into vehicles we climbed the meandering roads to the top of Fiesole. Under the direction of Burbi the orchestra played without stopping into the early hours of the next day. Stefano Burbi describes his work as, "music of memory and nostalgia, it is melancholic because we remember, like Annigoni, a paradise that has been lost. I would like to leave the same impression, the same feeling, that was instilled in the work of Annigoni. That is every person should leave something of worth to be remembered by and what they do in this life is not done in vain." The music has garnered critical acclaim as well as winning the "Best Musical Score" at the Toronto International Hot Docs Film Festival. Since completing the film, Mr. Burbi continues to compose, conduct and tour with his newly expanded orchestra, The Orchestra da Camera Nova Harmonia di Firenze.

From his first words in a deep resonating voice scarred by cigarrettes and stained by chiante he says, "I signed my work using the cipher C followed by three crosses representing the via cruicis, the hard road to the cross which the artist has to travel." Annigoni's words came alive. Cortesi the great actor, whose voice is famous and instantly recognized thoughout Italy, gave meaning and intimacy to the old artist speaking from beyound the grave. Indeed some who knew him have sworn the voice was none other than Annigoni himself. Mr. Cortesi has a long and distingushed career as an actor. From 1968 to 1986 he voice dubbed six of Federico Fellini's films. During this time, the actor acquired the trust and lasting friendship of the Maestro Fellini. Renato Cortese continues to perform in theatre, radio and television.

  • Pietro Annigoni born on June 7, 1910 in Milan, Italy.
  • As a child he shows early promise in drawing. His father said, "You will become a great artist."
  • 1925 - Family moves to Florence.
  • 1927 - Enrols in the Accademia de Bella Arti.
  • Annigoni's first love was art. In those days he was a "young man mad about drawing."
  • 1932 - First one man show of paintings and drawings at the Palazzo Ferroni, Florence
  • 1934 - Sold out show in Galleria Botti - portraits of prominent Florentines.
  • 1937 - Starts first major fresco - Convent of San Marco, Florence - "Desent from the Cross" and "Death of Abel."
  • Travels extensively throughout Italy and Europe.
  • 1945 - Commissioned by the British Fine Arts Office to sketch the destruction of Florence.
  • 1949 - Exhibits numerous self portaits in London at the Royal Academy where his work causes a stir among artists and art lovers.
  • Mid 50's - Starts commissions from notable society figures: Lord Moran; Juliana Forbes; The Duchess of Devonshire.
  • 1956 - Commissioned to paint what became Annigoni's most famous portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
  • Receives an enormous amount of publicity worldwide. The portrait and Annigoni achieve tremendous fame.
  • The portrait exploited on commonwealth currency and postage stamps around the world.
  • Annigoni becomes world famous. He travels around the world.
  • Paints the rich and famous - Margot Fonteyn; Princess Elena Corsini; Princess Margaret; Prince Philip; The Queen Mother; The Maharanee of Jaipur; John F. Kennedy; Pope John XXIII. etc.
  • He uses his new found wealth to pursue his first love frescoes. He paints monumental religious narratives at: -- Cathedral of San Antonio in Padua -- San Michele Arcangelo in Ponte Buggianese -- San Marco in Florence -- San Martino in Castagno.
  • Annigoni's work hangs in: -- The Vatican, Rome -- The Uffizi Gallery, Florence -- The Museum of Modern Art, New York -- The National Portrait Gallery, London.
  • Annigoni dies in Florence in 1988.
  • 1992 Annigoni is given a state funeral and is interned to his final resting place in San Miniato overlooking his beloved Florence.

  • Annigoni: Portrait of an Artist won an Award of Merit at the 1996 Chicago International Film Festival in the Arts and Humanities category.
  • Annigoni: Portrait of an Artist was awarded The Best Musical Score at the 1996 Toronto's Hot Docs Film Festival.
  • Annigoni: Portrait of an Artist had its World Premiere on October 23rd 1995, at the historic and largest movie theatre in Toronto, The Bloor Cinema. It played to sold out audiences during its run and continues to be featured at repertory theatres.
  • The World Television Premiere was on BRAVO! on March 3rd 1996.

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