Showing posts with label Magazines. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Magazines. Show all posts

8 January 2019

Manuela Arcuri - actress and model

TV drama star who portrayed woman who killed Mafia boss

The glamorous Manuela Arcuri has evolved from model to popular TV actress
The glamorous Manuela Arcuri has evolved
from model to popular TV actress
The actress and former model Manuela Arcuri, who received accolades for playing the lead role in a truth-inspired drama about a grieving widow who shot dead a gang boss, was born on this day in 1977 in Anagni, an ancient town in southern Lazio.

Arcuri portrayed a character based on Assunta ‘Pupetta’ Maresca, who made headlines in 1955 when she walked into a bar in Naples and shot dead the Camorra boss who had ordered the killing of her husband, just three months after they were married.

The four-episode drama, aired in 2013 on the Italian commercial TV channel Canale 5, was called Pupetta: Il coraggio e la passione (Pupetta: Courage and Passion). Directed by Luciano Odorisio and also starring Tony Musante, Eva Grimaldi and Barbara De Rossi, the series confirmed Arcuri’s standing as a television actress of note, winning her the award of best actress at the 2013 Rome Fiction Fest.

She had appeared by then in leading roles in a number of TV dramas and mini-series, including Io non dimentico (I Don’t Forget), Il peccato e la vergogna (The Sin and the Shame) and Sangue caldo (Hot Blood).

Manuela Arcuri met the real 'Pupetta' during the making of the 2013 series
Manuela Arcuri met the real 'Pupetta'
during the making of the 2013 series
Arcuri’s ambition from an early age was to forge a career in show business. She attended art school in Latina, where she grew up, before moving to Rome to enrol at the Pietro Scharoff Academy of Dramatic Arts, where she graduated in 1997.

A girl of classic Italian beauty, she took her first modelling assignments at the age of 15 and her career as a glamour model evolved more quickly than her acting career, although she was steadily building up film credits for minor roles.  Her magazine shoots led rapidly to her being projected as a sex symbol, which quickly opened doors into television, where glamorous female presenters remain a ratings winner.

In 2002, still a relative newcomer, she was given huge exposure when she was chosen to co-host the Sanremo Music Festival alongside the veteran male presenter, Pippo Baudo.

Now, bigger and better TV parts began to be offered. She participated in the popular TV drama series Carabinieri and in 2005 played the title role in Imperia, la grande cortigiana, a TV film about the 16th century Roman courtesan and celebrity, Imperia Cognati.

In 2008, she met the challenge of appearing at the Teatro Parioli in Rome in a six-week run of the comedy Il primo che mi capita, then landed her biggest TV role to that point as the female lead in Io non dimentico, a drama set in Naples in the 1930s.

The statue in Porto Cesareo that caused such controversy
The statue in Porto Cesareo
that caused such controversy
Arcuri has a large following of fans, some of whom have expressed their admiration for her in unusual ways, such as the statue that was erected in 2002 by the local tourist board to celebrate the beauty and prosperity of the fishing port and resort of Porto Cesareo in Puglia, about 30km (19 miles) from the city of Lecce.

Carved by the sculptor Salvatino De Matteis, it depicts a female figure carrying a hollow shell brimming over with fish but with the hair, facial features - and cleavage - of Ms Arcuri, beneath which is an inscription that hailed the actress as a symbol of beauty and prosperity, a perfect match for Porto Cesareo itself.

Not surprisingly, the choice of an actress and glamour model over a more traditional symbol, such as a goddess or saint, or even a mermaid, divided opinion, with outspoken protests in particular by the wives of local fishermen, who had begun a daily ritual of touching the statue’s buttocks to bring them luck before they set out to sea.

For a while the statue was removed, only to later be reinstated after an equally voluble outcry from those who approved of it.  Ms Arcuri, who attended the original unveiling, returned to see it reborn.

Romantically linked with a series of high-profile men, including the footballer Francesco Coco, Arcuri has had a long-term relationship with the entrepreneur Giovanni Di Gianfrancesco, with whom she had a four-year-old son, Mattia.

The Cathedral of Santa Maria Annunziata
in Anagni dates back to the 11th century
Travel tip:

Anagni, where Manuela Arcuri was born, is an ancient town in the province of Frosinone in Lazio, 70km (43 miles) southeast of Rome in an area known as Ciociaria, named after the primitive footwear, ciocie, a type of sandal, worn by people living in the area. The town produced four popes, the last one being Boniface VIII, who was hiding out there in 1303 when he received the famous Anagni slap, delivered by an angry member of the fiercely antipapal Colonna family after he refused to abdicate. After his death the power of the town declined and the papal court was transferred to Avignon. The medieval Palace of Boniface VIII, is near the Cathedral in the centre of the town.

Search for a hotel in Anagni with tripadvisor

The Cathedral of San Marco, in the 'ideal' Fascist town of Latina in Lazio, was built in 1932
The Cathedral of San Marco, in the 'ideal' Fascist town of
Latina in Lazio, was built in 1932
Travel tip:

Latina, a town built in the middle of what used to be the Pontine Marshes, south of Rome, has been described as a living monument to Fascism - not in the sense of celebrating the horrors of the darker side of Mussolini’s grip on power, but as an example of the dictator’s utopian dreams of efficient modern cities for the Italian people.  Mussolini drained the malaria-ridden Pontine swamps and gave the reclaimed land to peasants and settlers, building them houses in exchange for their labour and sweat. The centre of Latina - inaugurated in 1932 as Littoria - has been preserved almost as it was. The Fascist buildings remain in place, their rationalist architecture decorated with pagan statues as well as military and rural bas-reliefs. The Cattedrale di San Marco, designed by Oriolo Frezzotti and built in 1932, is a good example of the fusion of classical and modern, linear styles that was typical of Fascist architecture.

More reading:

The true story of Assunta Maresca - the 'little doll' who shot dead a Mafia boss 

Pippo Baudo - the record-breaking host of Sanremo

Mara Carfagna - from glamour model to politician

Also on this day:

1337: The death of the brilliant painter Giotto

1921: The birth of Sicilian writer Leonardo Sciascia

2016: The death of Maria Teresa de Filippis, the first woman to drive in Formula One


16 April 2018

Fortunino Matania - artist and illustrator

War artist famous also for images of British history

Fortunino Matania was one of the leading 20th century magazine artists
Fortunino Matania was one of the leading
20th century magazine artists
Chevalier Fortunino Matania, a prodigiously talented artist who became known as one of the greatest magazine illustrators in publishing history, was born on this day in 1881 in Naples.

Matania made his name largely in England, where in 1904 he joined the staff of The Sphere, the illustrated news magazine that was founded in London in 1900 in competition with The Graphic and the Illustrated London News.

The use of photography on a commercial scale was in its infancy and artists who could work under deadline pressure to produce high-quality, realistic images to accompany news stories were in big demand.

Never short of work, he was commissioned by magazines across Europe, including many in his native Italy.

Matania’s best known work was from the battlegrounds of the First World War but he also covered every major event - marriages, christenings, funerals and state occasions - from the coronation of Edward VII in 1902 to that of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.  He produced illustrations of the Sinking of the Titanic for The Sphere.

He was also in demand to design advertising posters, such as those inviting travellers on the LNER and other railways to visit Blackpool or Southport. He created posters, too, for Ovaltine and Burberry, the sports outfitter.

Matania was the war artist for the London magazine The Sphere
Matania was the war artist for the
London magazine The Sphere
Later in his career, he drew voluptuous women, often nude, for the women’s magazine Britannia and Eve, and was one of the first illustrators hired to work on the ground-breaking children’s magazine, Look and Learn.

Fascinated with British royalty and the Empire, Matania wrote as well as illustrated historical stories and in the years up to his death in 1963 produced a series of paintings for the Look and Learn publisher Leonard Matthews called a Pageant of Kings, which began with William the Conqueror and the Battle of Hastings.

He was working on a painting entitled Richard II and His Child Bride when he died in London at the age of 81.

Matania’s prolific output also included illustrations to be used in Hollywood movies.

His talent was plainly in his genes, to a certain extent. His father was Eduardo Matania, an artist who became an illustrator for magazines in Italy in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

He studied at his father's studio, designing a soap advertisement at the age of nine and exhibiting his first work at Naples Academy by the times he was 11.

By the age of 14, he was good enough to take on some of his father’s workload for books and magazines and earned a commission in his own right to produce weekly illustrations for the periodical L'Illustrazione Italiania.

Matania was also in demand to create advertising posters, this one extolling the virtues of winter in Southport
Matania was also in demand to create advertising posters,
this one extolling the virtues of winter in Southport
He took the bold step to move to Paris in 1901 to work for Illustration Francaise. It was an invitation to cover the Coronation of Edward VII for The Graphic in 1902 that took him to London, where he quickly became in such demand that he stayed.

It was his coverage of the Great War that made it clear he was possessed of extraordinary talent. Not only was he able to work at great speed, he was able to recreate scenes as if he was using a camera, noting small details of the way people stood or moved and the expressions on their faces and bringing them together in vivid scenes so natural as if he had captured a moment in time exactly as it was when he saw it.

Although he spared readers the worst elements of what he had seen, his illustrations as much as anything in the news coverage of the conflict brought home to readers the full horrors of the conflict.

Naples, looking from Mergellina towards Santa Lucia
Naples, looking from Mergellina towards Santa Lucia
Travel tip:

Eduardo Matania produced many paintings depicting the life of fishermen and their families on the Bay of Naples, particularly in the Santa Lucia area, a neighbourhood clustered around the Castel dell’Ovo and only a short distance from the Royal Palace. Today, the area is a good place to eat, with many restaurants setting up around the harbour.

The Brera district has many restaurants
The Brera district has many restaurants
Travel tip:

The publishing centre of Milan was traditionally in the Brera district, an area just to the north of the city centre which once had the Bohemian atmosphere of a kind of Italian Montmartre.  Nowadays, it is the home of the Pinacoteca di Brera, one of the city’s major art galleries, and also of many fine restaurants, and retains its chic reputation.

More reading:

Felice Beato, the Venetian who may have been the world's first war photographer

How war injuries suffered in Italy inspired the great writer Ernest Hemingway

The First World War nurse who was made a saint

Also on this day:

1118: The death of Adelaide del Vasto, Countess of Sicily

1839: The birth of Antonio Starabba, twice Italy's prime minister


20 January 2018

Franca Sozzani – magazine editor

Risk taker who turned Vogue Italia into a major voice

Franca Sozzani was editor-in-chief of Vogue Italia for 28 years
Franca Sozzani was editor-in-chief of
Vogue Italia for 28 years
Franca Sozzani, the journalist who was editor-in-chief of the Italian edition of Vogue magazine for 28 years, was born on this day in 1950 in Mantua.

Under her stewardship, Vogue Italia was transformed from what she saw as little more than a characterless clothing catalogue for the Milan fashion giants to one of the edgiest publications the style shelves of the newsstands had ever seen.

Sozzani used high-end fashion and the catwalk stars to make bold and sometimes outrageous statements on the world issues she cared about, creating shockwaves through the industry but often selling so many copies that editions sometimes sold out even on second or third reprints.

It meant that advertisers who backed off in horror in the early days of her tenure clamoured to buy space again, particularly when the magazine began to attract a following even outside Italy.

She gave photographers and stylists a level of creative freedom they enjoyed nowhere else, encouraging them to express themselves through their photoshoots, particularly if they could deliver a message at the same time.  She encouraged her writers, too, not to shy away from issues she thought were important, and not to regard fashion as an insular world.

Among the most famous editions of the magazine were those that drew attention to broad topics such as drug abuse and rehab, domestic abuse and plastic surgery, and specific issues such as the Gulf of Mexico oil spill of 2010 and America’s election of a first black president, which she marked with an edition in which all of the models used were non-white.

Sozzani had a vision to set Vogue Italia apart from its sister publications in other countries
Sozzani had a vision to set Vogue Italia apart from
its sister publications in other countries
The work they did for her advanced the careers of many photographers, including Peter Lindbergh, Paolo Roversi, Bruce Weber and Steven Meisel, whose elevation to star status in magazine photography owed almost everything to her guidance and nurture.

Sozzani wanted her readers to think about issues, even to disturb them, and she sometimes attracted criticism. For instance, when she had the model Kristin McMenamy photographed covered in oil, as a stricken bird of paradise, in response to the Gulf oil spill, it was seen as insensitive.  Her response was to say that if you wanted to take risks, as she did, then you should expect people to make judgments, good or bad.

Brought up in a comfortable environment in Mantua, the historic and prosperous city in Lombardy where her father, Gilberto, was an engineer, Sozzani might never have followed the career path that was to unfold in front of her had her father not talked to her about the virtues of getting a steady job.

She attended convent schools and then the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan, where she graduated in literature and philosophy, following her free spirited nature by getting married at the age of 20 and then going travelling in London and India.

The marriage collapsed after just three months, after which she sought to convince her father that she could take a long-term view of her future and took a job as a secretary at Condé-Nast, the magazine publishing company.  From there in 1976 she became an editorial assistant on the company’s Vogue Bambini title and gradually worked her way up the production ladder.

The 2008 'black edition' of Vogue Italia was one of Sozzani's notable triumphs
The 2008 'black edition' of Vogue Italia
was one of Sozzani's notable triumphs
This in time led to the editorship in 1980 of a new Italian magazine, Lei, which was the Italian equivalent of Glamour, and two years later its sister title aimed at the male market, Per Lui.  It was while working for those magazines that she began to use photographers such as Weber and Meisel and Olivieri Toscani, who had much to do with the multicultural and socially aware advertising campaigns followed by Italy’s trendsetting Benetton company.

The two titles remained her focus until the late 80s, at which point she felt she had taken both as far as she could and was prepared to move on, only for Condé-Nast to realise the talent they were about to lose and gave her Vogue Italia, which lagged the British, American and French versions of the magazines in sales and prestige and needed freshening up.

No one was better suited to create an identity for Vogue Italia than Sozzani, whose vision from the outset was that where Vogue in the UK was about elegance and romance, in the US about glossy celebrity and the French version intellectual chic, her readers would understand that each edition of Vogue Italia would say something about the world, in words but sometimes only in images.

Her own attitude to fashion helped shape her editorial policy. She thought many aspects of the fashion world were ridiculous and in her own day-to-day life favoured clothes that were easy to wear, elegant but understated. 

After her first misadventure, Sozzani never married again, and managed to keep subsequent relationships largely out of the spotlight. One of them produced a son, Francesco Carrozzini, who was born in 1982. She died in 2016 after a long illness, at the age of 66.

The Basilica of Sant'Andrea in Mantua
The Basilica of Sant'Andrea in Mantua
Travel tip:

Mantua, where Franca Sozzani was born, is an atmospheric old city in Lombardy, about 180km (112 miles) to the south east of Milan, surrounded on three sides by a broad stretch of the Mincio river, which has always limited its growth, making it an easy place for tourists to look round. At the Renaissance heart of the city is Piazza Mantegna, where the 15th century Basilica of Sant’Andrea houses the tomb of the artist, Andrea Mantegna.

Each wall of the Sforza Castle is 180m long,  while the Torre di Filarete is 70m high
Each wall of the Sforza Castle is 180m long,
 while the Torre di Filarete is 70m high
Travel tip:

Vogue Italia’s headquarters are in Milan in Piazza Castello, the horseshoe-shaped piazza that wraps around the city’s impressive Castello Sforzesco – the Sforza Castle – which was built in the 15th century by Francesco Sforza, Duke of Milan on the site of a fortification erected in the previous century by another Milanese warlord, Galeazzo II Visconti. One of the largest citadels in Europe, it has a central tower, the Torre del Filarate, that climbs to 70m (230ft) in height, while each of the four walls is more than 180m (590ft) long. At the end of the 15th century, Ludovico Sforza commissioned artists including Bramante and Leonardo da Vinci to improve the interior decoration and they painted several notable frescoes.