An exhibit on the art and work of Fr. Costantino Ruggeri, OFM. PRESENTATION: Saturday, January 17, 11:00 am by Professor Francis Greene.
GUIDED TOURS: Friday: 8:30 pm
Saturday: 10:30 am; 12 noon; 1:30 pm; 2:30 pm ; 3:30 pm ; 4:30 pm; 6:30 pm; 8:00 pm
Sunday: 11:00 am; 12:30 pm; 2:00 pm; 3:30 pm; 5:00 pm; 7:00 pm; 8:30 pm
To view and learn more about his artwork, visit the Fr. Costantino Ruggeri website.
In 1951 Costantino Ruggeri was ordained a Franciscan priest and also held the first exhibit of his paintings, beginning a long and fruitful life as a Franciscan Friar and prodigious artist who worked in many media – painting, mosaic, architectural design, stained glass and liturgical furnishings until his death in 2007. Father Costantino constantly reflected and wrote upon the nature of the creative impulse and on the intersections of art, culture and faith, leaving us an enlightening body of theoretical aesthetic theory.
This exhibit provides a broad and perceptive overview of the exceptional artistic output of this humble and inspired Franciscan priest and artist. An examination of his art and his aesthetic theory affirm the essential relationship between Beauty and the Divine and offer insights into Pope Francis’ call and challenge to go out to the peripheries of society and culture.
Constantino Ruggeri was born in 1925 in Adro (Brescia), a small town in the Lombardy Region. At age 13 he entered the Order of the Friars minor, where he began his religious and artistic formation. He made his simple profession of vows in 1944, at the end of the Second World War. The year 1951 was significant, as he was ordained a priest in the Cathedral (Duomo) of Milan and exhibited his paintings for the first time. Mario Sironi, a well-known artist, presented and hosted Fr. Ruggeri’s artwork at the San Fedele Gallery which was run by Jesuit Fathers.
In Milan, Fr. Ruggeri interacted with such artists as Carrà, Tosi, Sironi, Fontana, Crippa, Dova, Melotti and others. It was at this time that he began painting on a continual basis. He developed quick gestures and used various techniques on canvas, wood, and cardboard. He painted frescos on public buildings and on buildings that belonged to his Order, and also displayed his works in public and personal exhibits. After a first experimental phase, his paintings became full of color and space; fluid, and flowing from the impulse of his inspiration. For him painting was an activity of his entire life, both public and private, and therefore he left us an immense collection.
Fr. Ruggeri was already a mature and renowned artist when he received a diploma in sculpture at the Academy of Brera in 1962. Several architects had already asked him to create liturgical objects and furnishings, as well as stained-glass windows, for their churches. In particular, he became friends with the architects Luigi Figini and Giovanni Michelucci. In 1954, two of his masterpieces were exhibited at the Tenth “Triennale” of Milan. By then, his work had been displayed in many exhibits of sacred furnishings and liturgical vestments. He became part of a group - founded by Cardinal Lercaro in Bologna - that supported the renewal of sacred art.
In 1959, he asked to be transferred from the Convent in Milan to the Convent of St. Mary of Canepanova, near Pavia. There, until his death in 2007, he worked in an extraordinary studio located in the attic that extended over the convent, presbytery, and choir loft of the Church. It was here that Fr. Ruggeri began his architectural projects with architect Luigi Leoni. His church projects, where the stained glass windows were always the protagonists, were sought after in many places in Italy, Japan, Africa and the Holy Land. He admired both Le Corbusier and Matisse and their influence became part of his creative work. He wanted his churches to be simple, organic in their structure and in relationship with their surroundings – places of mystery, grace and poetry – always a mystical space and a coming together of all arts. Among the many works of these years, it is worth mentioning the decoration and furnishings of the Cappella Feriale [Ferial Chapel] in the Duomo of Milan [Milan’s Cathedral] in 1986. On October 4th, 1995 he introduced the Frate Sole Foundation at the Triennale of Milan. Since 1993 the Foundation has continued to offer every four years the Frate Sole International Prize of Sacred Architecture – a prize Fr. Ruggeri created –that to date has been awarded to Ando, Siza, Meier, Pawson and Undurraga for their churches.