The stigmata

The project


Monograph 1970


The Preview Showings



Recognition from art critics and the press

(dma) - The fact that Hess' paintings only saw the light of day again thirty years after the end of the war clearly shows how difficult their recovery was. The restoration proposed by Lionel Fioravanti Massa was successfully carried out by Prof. Everardo Pavia at his workshop in via Margutta in Rome. The restored paintings were then returned to Messina and put on display as if in a gallery on the walls of Emma's sun-filled apartment.
Finally the recovery was completed and the extraordinary gallery could be exhibited to art critics, journalists and representatives of institutions and cultural organisations so they could appreciate at first hand the importance of the Rediscovery.

Marcello Venturoli

The critic Marcello Venturoli during his visit to see Hess' paintings in Messina in the summer of 1972

Messina - Summer 1972 - Domenico M. Ardizzone (left) with the German art critic Hans Eckstein who is examining Hess' paintings which were restored in preparation for the travelling exhibition of the Rediscovery.

The first to examine the paintings were the art critics Marcello Venturoli (Rome) and Hans Heckstein (Munich) who were to write essays included in the catalogue produced for the 1974 travelling exhibition dedicated to the Rediscovery. Venturoli had known nothing about Hess but immediately became passionately interested in the artist's life and work. He studied the paintings, water-colours and drawings seeking a deeper understanding of Hess' techniques, style, themes and meanings.

Preview showing for the German press

click to see

Hans Eckstein already knew Hess' work after reviewing several of the artist's  exhibitions in Munich during the 1930's. Seeing again some paintings which he had last seen displayed at the Munich Glaspalast was a great surprise for the German critic. Not least because the last time he had seen any of Hess' paintings was in an exhibition of works destined for export in Munich in 1948, four years after the death of the artist. (At the time, however, Eckstein did not know that Hess had died following an air raid on Innsbruck.)
Among the series of visits which followed to Emma's home the most significant was that by a group of German journalists accompanied by the German Consul to Messina Friedrich Löbau. The visit was given wide coverage in the Bavarian press and on the radio. Meanwhile in Rome, the project for the Rediscovery of Hess' work was presented at the German Academy at Villa Massimo, the Austrian Cultural Institute, the Goethe Institut, the Swiss Institute and the Galleria Giulia whose director, Ennio Casciaro, was also head of the Galleria Goethe in Bolzano, which was due to host a stage of the travelling exhibition.

Bolzano - The Colonnade (Laubengasse)
The house where L. Christian Hess was born.

At the same time contact was also being made with leading art critics in Sicily, Messina University and with regional institutions in Palermo where there was also a local centre of the Goethe Institute. My diary for 1972 was full of appointments linked to the project. We quickly received positive responses from the Goethe Institute and the Sicilian Regional Council as well as official support for the travelling exhibition from the European Parliament. In 1972 as luck would have it I was a delegate to the National Union of Journalists' conference held that year in Bolzano. During my stay in the city I sought out Hess' birthplace and made contact with local authorities. These meetings helped bring Hess back to Bolzano and his Tyrolean homeland in general. They led to the exhibition at the Galleria Goethe as well as the placing of a commemorative plaque in the central colonade in Laubengasse. Once the union conference was over I travelled to Innsbruck to meet the director of the Italian Cultural Institute Prof. Aldo Lucciarini, the chairman of the Artists' Union Paul Flora and the painter Wilfried Kirschl. All three were to contribute to the success of the exhibition which a few years later was held in the prestigious rooms of the Tiroler Landesmuseum "Ferdinandeum".
Paul Flora, Wilfried Kirschl and Aldo Lucciarini paid  homage at the graveside of Christian Hess on 26 November 1974, the 30th anniversary of the artist's death. The same day in Palermo saw the inauguration of the exhibition celebrating the Rediscovery of his work.