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Book spotlights Italian artist’s work

By : Ingrid Husisian

Sandro Sticca hopes his newest book will open the eyes of the art world to an Italian painter who died earlier this year.

Entitled La Pittura di Domenico Mascitti: Il Sapore della Terra ancestrale (“The Paintings of Domenico Mascitti: The Taste of the Ancestral Land”), the book brings artist Domenico Mascitti from local fame into the larger spotlight.

“Art fulfills a deep need in my soul,” said the professor of French and comparative literature. “It is gratifying and provides me with an occasion to grow intellectually even though in a different field than the one in which I’ve been working all my professional life.”

Sticca began his chronicles of Mascitti’s work after the artist’s death on March 12. While vacationing in Florence, Sticca spoke with the artist’s son, who he had met at an Italian lecture years before.

“We’d had a discussion about art,” Sticca said. “But I was not aware his father was a renowned painter.” However, when they met earlier this year, the son asked Sticca if he would write a chronology and critical interpretation of Mascitti’s work.

“I said yes for two reasons,” Sticca said. “I’ve had a lifelong interest in art. The second reason is that it would give me the possibility of realizing myself intellectually in a project that dealt primarily in art.” After viewing Domenico’s paintings, Sticca became impressed with the “beauty and magic presentation of light and colors on the canvases.”

Most of the paintings were dated and signed, making it easy to reconstruct the chronology of Domenico’s work. The artist had painted all of his life but did not receive much attention until his later years. “I began the project by separating his paintings into three categories,” Sticca said. “Portraits, country scenes of various regions in Italy and the Alps, and scenes of mostly small towns.”

Sticca has never taught art history but he took every course available on the subject while earning his PhD at Columbia University.

Sticca said he received another honor when he was asked to participate in the commemoration of the artist’s birthplace.

“The mayor of Domenico’s birth place decided to affix a plaque commemorating the house where the painter had lived, and asked me to give a presentation of the painter and his paintings on August 24,” he said. “Two days later, Mario called me from Milan to ask if I would write the words for his plaque and I did.”

The morning following the commemoration, Mario and his mother presented one of Domenico’s paintings to Sticca. “It was a very sensitive and a much appreciated gift,” he said.

Sticca said being asked to write this book was a recognition of his scholarly capacity but also a challenging endeavor. “I worked very hard and was able to place the production of the artist within its times and trace the influences that helped him in his artistic voyage,” he said.

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Last Updated: 10/14/08