En Plein Air: Italian Chalk Festival

Still Life

Still Life

Works in chalk are fascinating. It’s relatively rare that you see an artist work in this medium en plein air. Also, it seems juvenile (after all, didn’t we all spend hours on the driveway baking in the heat, making fantastic creations at age 5?) and so mysterious — exhibit A: the sponge that people use to great effect, smoothing out rough edges, marrying hues. How can it  have such power to change a piece of work?

I’m still reeling from the experience of watching professional artists work wonders on the slates in front of the drop-dead gorgeous 1916 Beaux-Arts facade of the Cleveland Museum of Art last weekend. Below are some pictures that I hope capture the moment.

First, here’s a description of the event:

Madonnari Chalk Tradition
In 16th-century Italy, beggars, using chalk on the plazas outside cathedrals, copied paintings of the Madonna by Raphael and his contemporaries. With these street painters, called I Madonnari (painters of the Madonna), an artistic tradition was born. Today I Madonnari festivals are held annually in Europe, Africa, and the United States. In 1990 the festival brought this Renaissance tradition to Cleveland.

Modigliani et al

Modigliani et al


Here are a few other great chalk artists and their works on the web. Julian Beever, the British artist, is probably the most renowned:





Now I’m off a few days to the beach and a romp in DC! Until Monday!


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