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17 October 2020

Il Duomo dolomitico

In 1957, the Apollinaire art gallery in Milan announced a contest not for professional painters but rather for writers with a feel for figurative art to collect a solid number of works to be exhibited in a show. Unfortunately, only three great poets and writers, Eugenio Montale, Orio Vergani and Dino Buzzati, picked up the invitation: and, thus, the exhibition competition was a non-starter. The failed initiative did not prevent Buzzati from completing his masterpiece, the famous Duomo di Milano, portrayed as a Dolomite mountain. The marbled façade, the peaks and the imposingly large windows of the cathedral morph into the rocky sides, the pinnacles, the deep cavities of a mountain, and, similarly, neighbouring buildings assume rugged outlines. This is how Buzzati, a seasoned mountaineer, imagined the piazza del Duomo di Milano: a high-altitude space that transforms into a bewildering place, hanging in the balance, or, better yet, teetering between magical realism and the surreal.