Gina Lollobrigida, the actress by chance who dreamed of painting and sculpting as a girl

The career of artist parallel to that of film diva

If she hadn’t been an actress, Gina Lollobrigida dreamed of being an artist as a girl. A passion that she also always cultivated when she was already a star, first dedicating herself to photography and then to sculpture. Her film career began by chance, when talent scouts were looking for possible actors among the people on the street. In fact, she was stopped one day in front of the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome, where she, winner of a scholarship, was studying painting and sculpture. It was Vittorio De Sica, certain of Gina’s artistic potential, who convinced her to focus on cinema.

Very versatile in figurative art, Lollobrigida has produced an impressive photographic documentation on the multiple aspects of human life, showing a constant interest in childhood. You have published 8 volumes of photographs and directed three documentaries, one on Fidel Castro in 1974, one on Indira Gandhi in 1976 and one on the Philippines of 2 hours in 35mm.

In 1980 her photos were exhibited at the Camevalet Museum in Paris where she was awarded the city’s gold medal. On that occasion, the newspaper “Le Monde” wrote of her photographic works: “she has the eye of a Cartier Bresson, she is talented, she is full of energy and her photos of her have a shocking force. She She’s truly a great artist.”

The Diva frequented artists such as Francesco Messina, Giacomo Manzù, Ilia Glazunov, Giorgio De Chirico, Salvador Dalì, Jacob Epstein. When they asked her to pose for them, she accepted, flattered, but she carefully observed their work, trying to understand the secret of their talent and their art. She continued to do some sculpture from time to time and, just by observing Giacomo Manzù who portrayed her, she decided to go back to sculpting definitively: “He was the one who communicated to me the humility and passion indispensable for sculpting”, said the actress. Since 1990 she has fully resumed her activity as a sculptor, which she had neglected for the cinema. You have modeled more than sixty sculptures, some of which are in marble.

In 1992 Lollobrigida represented Italy at the Seville Expo with the sculpture “Living together”, a large eagle ridden by a happy child: a surreal image of the harmony between men and nature. The French president François Mitterrand complimented her on this work and awarded her the Legion of Honor for her artistic talents, calling her an “artist of value”. In 1996 she became Honorary Academician of the ancient Academy of Design Arts in Florence, the third woman to receive this honor after the astronomer Margherita Hack and the Nobel Prize for Medicine Rita Levi Montalcini.

In 2003 he held the first major exhibition of his works at the Pushkin Museum in Moscow, which ended with a meeting, in the Novo Ogarev residence, with the Russian president Vladimir Putin who congratulated the artist. In the same year Gina’s sculptures were exhibited on the Venice Lido for ‘Open 2003 Art and Cinema’ and then at the Monnaie Museum in Paris where they remained until 2004. Due to their great success with critics and the public, the minister of French Culture Jean ]acques Aillagon conferred on Gina Lollobrigida the title of ‘Commandeur de l’Ordre des arts e des lettres’.

In 2007 the Republic of San Marino carried out, for the first time, a worldwide issue of four stamps, all portraying the actress, to honor and recognize the value of the artistic work produced in her life in the fields of cinema, photography, sculpture and in the humanitarian commitment as FAO ambassador.

Gina Lollobrigida since the 90s has created her own art above all in the atelier of Pietrasanta, in Versilia, of which she was an honorary citizen. In 2008 the Sant’Agostino complex and the central Piazza Duomo in Pietrasanta hosted the rich art itinerary of Gina Lollobrigida, through the exhibition of marbles, bronzes and photographs. On the occasion of the exhibition, the volume “Vissi d’arte” was published, published by Federico Motta Editore, with a presentation by Philippe Daverio, which collects the works of the famous actress.

(by Paolo Martini)