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Artful Italy: Discovering Wildt in Forlì

May 6, 2012

Today’s a quiet day of rest in Emilia-Romagna. I’m cozied up in our apartment in Bologna, sifting through photos and stories from northern Italy. It seems around every corner we’ve been greeted by a new surprise, a new enchantment, a new glass of wine or plate of colorful food, a new irresistible piece of beauty. This past week: no exception.

We paid a visit to Forlì, Italy, stopping in at Musei San Domenico, a restored 13th century Dominican convent turned creative arts space. Serendipitously, our visit coincided with a temporary exhibit running January 28 – June 17 featuring the work of Italian sculpture Adolfo Wildt (1868 – 1931). The collection offers a glimpse into a creative man’s inspiration and expression, featuring his own works and those of influential predecessors and contemporaries arcing from classical tradition to romanticism, art nouveau, and modernism.

WILDT. L’anima e le forme da Michelangelo a Kimpt
. The soul and the shape between Michelangelo and Klimt)

We didn’t know what to anticipate when we entered the museum, but the stillness in the air invited us to slow our pace and grow a deep appreciation for Wildt’s stone and marble works set together with examples of other talented artists’ related pieces.

ANTONIO CANOVA (Possagno 1757 – Venezia 1822)
Endimione dormiente [Detail shot of the perky pet]
1819 – gesso, 85 x 183 x 95 cm
Possagno (Treviso), Museo e Gipsoteca Antonio Canova

Wildt’s alien-like forms spun classic visual compositions into near other-worldly sculptural tales.

ADOLFO WILDT (Milan 1868 – Milan 1931)
The Conception

Another hall of the museum features an intricate display of tools used for the ancient arts, giving a peek into the skill and dedication required for the sculpture and artist to achieve such craftsmanship.

In addition to the Wildt collection, we were given behind-the-red-ropes access to the museum’s most precious piece, Antonio Canova’s “Ebe” (Hebe, the goddess daughter of Zeus…and also one of my favorite plants from New Zealand. But I digress.)

The loveliness of stone brought to near life…

Truly incredible.

Finally, this gorgeous duo by List greets visitors upon entry into what would be my favorite hall:
Wildt’s collection of Ink and Gold on Parchment Paper.

WILHELM LIST (Vienna 1864 – 1918)
L’ offerta (Miracolo delle rose)
1900 circa – olio su tela, 162,5 x 82 ognuna
Quimper, MusÈe dex Beaux Arts

Interesting to learn that Wildt apprenticed in hairdressing and goldsmithing as a young man; beautiful to see how the smooth silkiness of curled hair and the shine of precious metal in the workshop may have influenced his interaction with cold stone and dry parchment.

A full series of transfixing pieces lined the dark hall, each so simple and so profound.

The collection included such titles as The Pures and Faith in Childhood, along with the two below.

ADOLFO WILDT (Milan 1868 – Milan 1931)
The Mortal Sin | Faith and Religion
1913 | 1917

Some say that Wildt is a “forgotten genius,” that other modern sculptures and artists received the limelight and recognition throughout the nineteen hundreds, leaving his creativity locked in the shadows.

I’d not made note of his name before this past week, but after walking through the exhibit and admiring the spirit of his work, I want to go back through my old Art History textbooks and see what more I can piece together about this Italian creative.

On this quiet Sunday, I’ve been reading through snippets about him on the web…perhaps you’d enjoy them too? They include even more images of his artwork.

Adolfo Wildt & His Art in Italy:
Exhibit Site: Gallery and Information
Italian Talks: Wildt. The soul and the shape between Michelangelo and Klimt.
Idle Speculations: Wildt: The Forgotten Genius?

There is art in all of life. Snap a photo. Make a sketch. Admire a piece created by another soul. And don’t forget to look in the shadows: delightful surprises often linger, simply waiting to be found.

With that, I’ll sign off. Wherever you are in the world this day, I wish you discoveries of beauty…

Thanks for reading our series from Emilia-Romagna: A region of Northern Italy ripe for exploration. Artisan Local Foods (tortellini, lasagne, pancetta, traditional balsamic vinegar, and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese to name a few!), Historical Cities (Modena, Ferrara, Bologna, Rimini, and more), and Beautiful Natural Areas (the Po River Delta, the Apennine Mountains, and the green, green farmland in between). Photos and story snippets are flying on Twitter under the #blogville hashtag. Feel free to jump into the conversation to share insights on enjoying the best of Northern Italy!

Last thing (I promise!) – Tell me about your best art-finds from home or on the road. Big museums? Small galleries? Well-known artists? Local amateurs? Bonus points for links to pictures!
I love learning new tidbits…

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  • Reply Kieu ~ GQ trippin May 6, 2012 at 8:17 am

    LOVE that you guys are in Bologna in your apartment chillaxing and checking out the art scene. Sounds like my kind of day.. super jealous! ;)

    • Reply twoOregonians May 6, 2012 at 12:43 pm

      Thanks, Kieu! It’s been such a busy stretch of days…it’s nice to be a bit of a couch potato. And it doesn’t hurt to be living in a place with gelato and espresso just down the stairs and around the corner… ; ) Hope you two are doing great! xx

  • Reply Turtle May 6, 2012 at 10:26 am

    Fantastic photos! I love the white statues on the black backgrounds.
    And what a fantastic find – how nice to get away from some of the more famous tourist galleries.

    • Reply twoOregonians May 6, 2012 at 12:48 pm

      Thanks, good sir : ) The Musei was an unexpected treat – great to be in a pleasant space without all the crowds.

  • Reply Paula May 6, 2012 at 8:43 pm

    How I wish I could have given you guys a ‘couch’ for a few days…there wouldn’t have been any museums but a trip to the Carli Emporium
    and some relaxing in the olive grove….then walks on the beach and boardwalks(spianate made of flat rocks) and maybe an icecream…gee, are you sure that you won’t be around this are next year?

    PS: Italy is a splendid place to finish a journey…art, food, wine and why friends.
    Hugs from the WEST PORTICO – in transfer P

    • Reply twoOregonians May 9, 2012 at 3:22 pm

      Paula, you’re a sweetheart! Would have loved to cross paths with you here in your lovely home spot in Italy. Perhaps another day? : ) We’ve fallen in love with the beautiful lands here up north of the big cities, and a relaxing afternoon in an olive grove sounds like bliss!

      Wishing you safe travels as you’re off and about…and maybe we’ll catch up with each other some day in the future?

  • Reply Tony May 9, 2012 at 10:51 am

    What a beautiful museum and exhibit! To me, I always most impressed by the museums I know little about. Some combination of lesser expectations mixed with an enhanced sense of ownership… as if it is your little secret.

    So glad you two are crushing it at Blogville!

    • Reply twoOregonians May 9, 2012 at 3:25 pm

      Hey Tony, thanks! You’re right, I think. Walking in without preconceived ideas and maybe even unrealistic expectations gives us great chances to be pleasantly surprised. I wonder if it isn’t the same way sometimes with cities and countries, too? And even with this entire region of Emilia-Romagna. We came in ready to discover, and we’ve been blown away at every turn. So many terrific discoveries. : )

  • Reply Elena May 27, 2013 at 6:04 am

    Hi guys,
    I was randomly checking on the internet trying to find some info about Wildt exhibition and I read your blog. First of all, congratulation for your interesting posts; secondly, being from Forlì, I wanted to tell you I’m very glad you enjoyed the town. I wish Forlì could have more visitors like you! I work within the art field and I love to travel; I will definitely keep an eye on your blog. Best,

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