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Art and Culture

Apse detail of San Sepolcro, at Santo Stefano

In art, as in everything else, Bologna and the rest of its region have had to work hard for what they achieved. There's no good building stone handy, so they had to build in brick. No marble at all, so their sculptors learned to create virtuoso works in simple terracotta.

But Bologna's hard-working nature and talent for making do hardly tell the whole story. In truth, the story remains to be told. No single image captures the best of it, like Florence's dome or Venice's piazza; no scholar has yet come up with the interpretive synthesis that sums it all up. Of all Italy's art cities this one is unquestionably the hardest to explain.

Bologna is full of contradictions. The city's soul seems to aspire to simplicity and sincerity, and then when it finally takes a leading role in art it is for the most flagrant Baroque painting. It bestirs itself to attempt the biggest church in the world, then never bothers finishing it. If you enjoy the quirky and unexpected, you've come to the right place. At various times in its career the most strikingly artistic things made in this city have been trompe l'oeil ceilings, wax anatomical models and racing cars.

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Science, Technology and Cars




Medieval Art and Architecture

Renaissance Art and Architecture

Baroque Art and Architecture

Modern Art and Architecture

Historical and Artistic Terms

Words, Words, Words

Terracotta Art

Dreaming in Clay

Text © Dana Facaros & Michael Pauls

Image by Renaud Camus