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Sergio Cicognani’s work is still unique in Ravenna and the entire world of art. Inspired by the Byzantine mosaics, which he restored in his younger years, he embeds his mosaic stones in a mixture of mortar and fresco painting. I met the agile 90-year-old in his studio in Via Valpusteria in Ravenna to find out more about this particular way of working.
After studying painting at the Accademia di Belle Arti of Ravenna from 1946 to 1948, Sergio Cicognani joined the Gruppo Mosaicisti dell’Academia in 1948. After the war many damaged mosaics of the churches in and around Ravenna had to be restored and the group was much involved in this elaborate work. During the restoration work, Cicognani spent many hours on the scaffoldings and learned about the peculiarities of the Byzantine mosaics layer by layer.
In his works, mosaic and fresco painting, sometimes other materials such as jute and paper papier mâché, form a symbiosis that seems completely natural. Cicognani’s fascination for the art of the old masters is to be seen in each of its mosaics. They radiate the same lightness and vitality. And yet they come out clearly from Cicognani’s hand, which is always also the painter Cicognani.
Cicognani has collaborated with numerous internationally renowned artists such as Georges Mathieu, Gino Severini, Renato Guttuso, Bruno Saetti, Ernesto Treccani, Carlo Mattioli, Tono Zancanaro and Oskar Kokoschka. At the Institute of Mosaic Art Ravenna, in the CISIM of Lido Adriano and at the school of mosaic restoration (Scuola di Ristauro) in Ravenna, he taught traditional mosaic techniques and thus formed several generations of Mosaicisti.
In June 2017, Sergio Cicognani celebrated his 90th birthday.