While it is true that Todi is especially renowned as a gem of ancient art and architecture, especially medieval, it is also true that the city is currently thriving and looks towards a bright future. In particular, as an attraction it increasingly represents a true bench mark for contemporary art.
A relatively recent vocation, originating in the ‘70s when Todi started becoming the choice “home away from home” by well-known figures, intellectuals and also artists. These included Beverly Pepper who came to the hill town in 1970 and built her home-studio in the Todi countryside.
Other artists such as Piero Dorazio, Alighiero Boetti as well as Bruno Ceccobelli and Ugo Levita, to name a few, then followed her example, creating an interesting and dynamic cultural movement in town which was also the perfect terrain for the development of other important projects. Here is an itinerary to discover the best of contemporary art in Todi.
The Beverly Pepper Park
For this American sculptor, a citizen of Todi by adoption, 2019 was an intensive year of initiatives and recognitions connected specifically to the city of Jacopone thanks to a project entitled “Beverly Pepper between Todi and the world”. In particular, the Todi Columns were brought back to Piazza del Popolo for a few months, the artist’s four monumental sculptures towering between 8 and 12 metres tall, which had been installed in that very location for the first time in 1979.
They were then exhibited in the United States: in Washington in 1980, during the International Sculpture Conference, and at the Brooklyn Museum of Art of New York in 1987. They were brought back to Italy in the Nineties, exhibited initially in Venice and then in Florence. Pepper then donated the works to the Civic Museums of Venice for permanent installation, in the courtyard of Spazio Thetis at the Arsenal.
For Todi a re-edition of the original sculptures was arranged, whereby they were relocated from the Piazza to the Beverly Pepper Park, inaugurated on September 14 2019. It is the first monothematic park for contemporary sculpture in Umbria, and Beverly Pepper’s first in the world.
The route that connects the Santa Maria della Consolazione Church to the San Fortunato Church, particularly the area of the Parco della Rocca (Fortress Park), it was designed and planned by Pepper herself and features twenty sculptures donated by the artist to the city of Todi, all from her private collection. The works are made with materials ranging from iron to stainless steel to stone and date from various artistic periods, from 1960 and the 2000s. The result is an urban-naturalistic itinerary, which takes approximately 30 minutes to walk through, involving the interaction between art, monuments, landscape and urban context.
The Painted House
A private home that has become a work of art: the Painted House of Todi is exactly that.
A dwelling dating back to the 1800s, just steps away from Piazza del Popolo, was bought in 1975 by Irish artist Brian O’Doherty and his wife Barbara Novak, who were among those artists who chose Todi as their adoptive city.
Over the years Brian O’Doherty painted his home himself, covering the walls with frescoes that allude to his artistic career or are inspired by the ancient Celtic language, Ogham.
The Painted House is now considered one-of-a kind in the world and is an extremely popular destination for tourists and visitors.
On the wave of artistic buzz which, as mentioned previously, has been part of the fabric of the city for several decades, on the hill of Todi there are numerous spaces dedicated to contemporary art. These include Galleria Artenate, Bibo’s Place, Ab Ovo Gallery, Home Gallery Biganti, Silvia Ranchicchio ART, Galleria Space Mater.
Each one is certainly worth a visit, though we always recommend looking into opening days and times before heading out.