The sanctuary of the Madonna della Grazie in the province of Mantua is the spiritual home of the pavement artists, (called madonnari in Italian).
The gilded icon of the Madonna delle Grazie embracing the Christ Child is still considered by the faithful to be a miracle-working image. Whether the Madonna is keeping plague outbreaks away from the village, or extending her grace to the local soccer team during an important match, the recipients of her grace have always left a visible token of gratitude.
When the icon was restored some years back it lost some of the mystery and complexity it had acquired with age. Paintings that are hundreds of years old often see multiple restorations that leave them looking better or worse depending on the hand of the restorer. In the 19th century, restorers tended to make the works a bit prettier, now the concept behind restoration is “scientific”. It strives to bring out the original pigments. This sometimes results in losing the spirit of the work. I created my own version of this sacred work as a fine art edition on an extremely rough surface that recalled “terra battuta,” a sort of beaten clay soil that was once used as a paving material both outdoors and indoors. It was the material that pavement artists would have used before asphalt and other materials existed. Because I am not obligated to present a “scientific” version of the work, I am free to visualize the image as it appears to my imagination.
The work can be seen at the Andrea Smith Gallery in Sedona, Arizona. The address is below:
Andrea Smith Galleries
336 Hwy 179 Sedona AZ 86336
Their website is here: Andrea Smith Gallery Home.
My page is here: Kurt Wenner