6 October 2023— 14 January 2024

“All Fresh with Colour the Sea”. Sandro Penna and the Figurative Arts


The exhibition presents 150 works by artists including Pablo Picasso, Jean Cocteau, Filippo De Pisis, Mario Mafai, Tano Festa, Mario Schifano, Franco Angeli and others. Already in his house in Rome, they cast a wholly unprecedented light on the relationship with the world of art of one of the most sensitive and profound poets of the entire twentieth century in Italy.

Curated by Roberto Deidier, Tommaso Mozzati and Carla Scagliosi

After the major exhibition dedicated to Perugino to mark the 500th anniversary of his death, Perugia is now celebrating another of the city’s important natives: the poet Sandro Penna (1906-1977), one of the most sensitive and profound voices of the twentieth century, and not only in Italy, as the numerous and continuous translations of his verses amply demonstrate.

From 6 October 2023 to 14 January 2024, the National Gallery of Umbria in Perugia is hosting the exhibition “All Fresh with Colour the Sea”. Sandro Penna and the Figurative Arts, which investigates Penna’s relationship with the world of art, focusing on the tastes and the trends that held sway on the cultural scene from the forties to the seventies of the last century, in which the poet played the role of an unquestioned protagonist, on a par with Pier Paolo Pasolini, Alberto Moravia and Elsa Morante, his friends and colleagues.

Curated by Roberto Deidier, Tommaso Mozzati and Carla Scagliosi, the exhibition presents 150 works by such artists as Pablo Picasso, Jean Cocteau, Alexander Calder and others, including the ones with whom Sandro Penna became firm friends, frequenting them on a daily basis: from Filippo De Pisis to Mario Mafai, from Tano Festa to Mario Schifano and Franco Angeli,in other words from the Roman school to the young artists of Piazza del Popolo.

For the first time, this event will offer visitors the chance to admire an enormous and recently identified array of works from the poet’s own house, in Rome’s via Mole de’ Fiorentini, where, in addition to hosting and spending time with painters, sculptors, gallerists and writers, Penna also conducted his business as an art dealer.

The itinerary is completed by a carefully-compiled selection of autographed writings, diaries and letters that, together with first editions and audiovisual materials, employ the cultured dialogue between imagery and the written word as an indispensable tool for illuminating the poet’s passions.

It is in fact this dialogue that has suggested to critics a parallel between Penna’s literary works and the art of the painter, commenting the intimate, encrypted syntony woven by his verses with contemporary plastic expressions.

In particular, the literary critic Cesare Garboli was the first to stress the extent to which Penna would treat his own poetry “as if it were paintings”. And others, from Luciano Anceschi to Carlo Levi and from Dario Bellezza to Elio Pecora, have glimpsed all sorts of different echoes in his lyricism, from Matisse to Watteau and from Scipione to Rosai, obviously passing via Perugino and his evocative, luminous landscapes, full of air and azure shades of blue.

Catalogue by Magonza

Perugia, National Gallery of Umbria (corso Pietro Vannucci, 19)

6 October 2023 – 14 January 2024

Opening hours:

Tuesday to Sunday: from 8:30 to 19:30. Monday closed
The ticket office closes at 18:30.

Tickets: The cost of the exhibition is included in the museum entry ticket. 

Full price: €11; reduced price: €3 – 18-25 years old; free of charge up to 18

Information: Tel. 075.58668436; gan-umb@cultura.gov.it;