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Art and Artists


Keats, Shelley  Amore e fama

Shelley  Alla notte



Art Exhibition

Nancy Watkins


Curated by Giuseppe Albano

18 February to 4 May 2013

The Keats-Shelley House, Rome

Star Flower by Nancy Watkins

Chalices of light, star flowers, flowers of fire, mirages, arabesques and other wondrous flowers form a fantastical garden: the Visionary Flowers exhibit features the original grattage tablets of these drawings, published in Nancy Watkins’ most recent book, Il fiore è un’idea, with rhymed legends by Lucio Persio (Il Labirinto, 2012).
The artworks have a clear thematic affinity with the extraordinary catalogue of flowers in Shelley's poem, 'The Question'. Likewise, their special technique—radiance erupting from the pitch-black of the ink—finds a singular parallel to the poem’s instantaneous leap from the shadows of winter to refulgent spring, with its dazzling explosion of ‘visionary flowers’, from which the exhibition takes its title.

Nancy Watkins’ artwork has been featured on many book and magazine covers, including various editions of poems of Keats, Shelley and Byron. After her 2007 solo show, The Poet's Room, and the 2012 collective, Illustrating Keats, this is the third time that the American artist exhibits at the Keats-Shelley Museum. Born in Chicago, she lives in Rome.

Lucio Persio, author of Racconti mortali, Topsyturvy and Doppiaggio, composed the legends that accompany the drawings expressly for each work. Although short stories are his more usual mode, this isn’t the only book by Nancy Watkins that he has ‘illustrated’ in rhyme; in fact, he also wrote the legends for her collection of theatrical phantom creatures in Visite notturne (Il Labirinto, 2006).

The Keats-Shelley House
Piazza di Spagna 26, 00187 Rome
Monday to Friday 10.00 to 13.00 and 14.00 to 18.00
Saturday 11.00 to 14.00 and 15.00 to 18:00

Art Exhibition

Arte in Copertina, an exhibit featuring over a hundred original works of art done expressly for Il Labirinto books by thirteen modern artists, opened June 11 in the magnificent Salone Borromini of the Biblioteca Vallicelliana in Rome.

Bibilioteca Vallicelliana, Piazza Chiesa Nuova 18 (near Piazza Navona) Running from June 11-June 17, 2009


libri Edizioni Il Labirinto



Arte in copertina

dipinti e disegni

per i libri delle
Edizioni Il Labirinto


A poster (in Italian) on the event

A curious heart with open eyes drawn by Bruno Ceccobelli for the tumultuous verse of Annelisa Alleva's Lettera in forma di sonetto; Gianni Dessì's convivial figure in a Latin-Etruscan pose for Syringa by John Ashbery; Piero Pizzi Cannella's nocturnal lizards for Edoardo Albinati's military poem Capodanno del VAM; Enrico Pulsoni's mineral and vegetable heraldry; roses, divers, poppies by Giuseppe Salvatori; Ruggero Savinio's saturnine mythologies; Guido Strazza's broken columns for the arduous and broken verse of Hopkins; the hypnotic architecture of Marco Tirelli; a self-portrait as a ram by Sergio Vacchi; Nancy Watkins' Fire Flowers for Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Sonetti dal Portoghese: these are among the hundred and more drawings and paintings done expressly for the books of the Edizioni Il Labirinto by well known contemporary artists.

The original artwork, together with the books, will be on display in the Salone Borromini of the Biblioteca Vallicelliana in Rome. The exhibition opens Thursday 11 June, 16:30 with videoclips and live readings by authors.

Il Labirinto publishes modern Italian poetry, narrative, essay, art as well as works in translation. Special attention is reserved to art with contemporary artists invited to do artwork for each book.

Biblioteca Vallicelliana, Piazza della Chiesa Nuova 18, Roma. Until 17 June, Mon-Fri, 10-13.


An article on the event

Books to Cherish: An Extraordinary Exhibit for Book Lovers
by E.Goletti, AWAR Forum

The paperless society which promises reading anything anywhere (even on cell phone screens) is fast arriving. While this may be fine for quick reads, how does it affect book lovers who cherish the elegance and permanence of paper, the grand tradition of literature and art working together? Where can we find modern works that merit being thumbed through slowly, lovingly read, and treasured?

Arte in Copertina, an exhibit featuring over a hundred original works of art done expressly for Il Labirinto books by thirteen modern artists, will be opening June 11 in the magnificent Biblioteca Vallicelliana. The collection reflects the ideal library containing poetry—classics in translation and contemporary—narratives and essays. Artists include well known Italians Ceccobelli, Dessì, Janich, Pizzi Cannella, Pulsoni, Salvatori, Savinio, Strazza, Tirelli, Vacchi.

At the opening event, American artist Nancy Watkins will speak on the relationship between poetry and art. She has often done artwork for books, almost two dozen of which will be on display. Her 2007 Keats Museum exhibit catalog, The Poet's Room, addressed this in depth. The key, according to her, lies in finding a common spirit and points of contact: "Painting must remain painting but enrich itself with the rhythm, the truths and, yes, the color of poetry." In image after image she does just that, whether it be her flaming Fire Flowers for Barrett Browning's intense love poems, or delicate Forget-me-not flowers for Keats, or nocturnal animals, mysterious interiors, impervious mountain landscapes, soaring globes, dancing skeletons, the entrancing Entrance series, and a nude Lesbia for a modern translation of classical poet, Catullus.

As for the setting of this unique exhibit, the Salone Borromini, designed by Borromini in 1631, is worth a visit in itself. Originally an Oratory, it is the actual site where the musical term Oratorio was born. The vast space is a real movie set with two story high bookcases that hold precious manuscript books, some dating as far back as 700 a.d. The exhibit opens on June 11, 4:30 pm with videoclips and readings in Italian by the authors and runs through June 17, Mon-Fri 10 a.m. -1 p.m.

About the publisher

Il Labirinto is a quality Italian publisher specialized in poetry, narrative, essay and art. All books contain original artwork done expressly for them by contemporary artists. Many of the first edition books are issued in numbered copies and some have hand-sewn bindings. The Il Labirinto web site features live readings by Italian poets.

Edizioni Il Labirinto, Rome Italy