First published: Winter 2003
In Giovanni Battista Podestà’s painting shown opposite, the hierarchical perspective clearly indicates the ascendancy of the God Gold over human beings. The divinity, depicted as an idol, overpowers humanity: two figures are forced to bend in submission. In the upper section, the Latin initials of Christ signal the radical shift from religious to material devotion. A self-taught artist, Podestà constantly rebelled against the materialism of post war Italian culture, a society in a state of rapid change. In denouncing modernisation, he looked back to an enchanted mediaeval past.
Podestà was born in 1895 at Torre Pallavicina, a little village in Lombardy. His background was modest: his father died when he was a child and there was a large family to support (he had 12 sisters). In order to help the family, he left school at 10 and was apprenticed to a stonemason.