Thematic activity | Gold in the History of Art: From Byzantine Mosaics to the Present Day

"NOw/here" by Gian Maria Tosatti

Gian Maria Tosatti’s “NOw/here” exhibition, now on show at Pirelli HangarBicocca, brings together two new series of paintings – Ritratti [Portraits] (2022) and NOw/here (2023) – which epitomise the concepts that have inspired his artistic research over the past twenty years. Notably, in the Portraits series (2022) Tosatti paints with gold and rust on sheets of iron – in other words, by using the processes of corrosion and oxidation of the metal to reproduce the passage of time in tangible form. The use of gold is recurrent in Tosatti’s art, and he uses it as a reference to the pictorial tradition of the West, creating “mirrors irradiated with light that convey a sense of timelessness, arousing profound, intimate reflections in the visitor”.

Focus areas
• History of Art


The activity will start with a classroom session, in which the students will be taken on a journey through the history of art, looking at the use and symbolic value of gold. They will start from Byzantine mosaics and move on to the paintings on wood of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, before reaching through to the more recent experimental works of Italian artists in the 1970s, such as Jannis Kounellis (1936-2017), Gino De Dominicis (1947-1998) and Luciano Fabro (1936-2007). Some previous works by Tosatti from the Seven Seasons of the Spirit (2013-16) and Histoire et Destin – New Men’s Land (2016) series will also be examined.

In the second part of the session, the students will be invited to explore the exhibition, focusing their attention on the links between what they have seen in the first part and in the works on display.

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