Art Parties

Artist Francesco Vezzoli Is Reinvigorating Ancient Roman Relics

Palazzo delle Esponsizioni
Photography by Elisabetta Villa/Getty Images. All images courtesy of Prada.

Contemporary art often nods to ancient works. Artist Francesco Vezzoli puts the two on the same pedestal, and on April 20, 2023, Prada and the Palazzo delle Esponsizioni came together to organize a preview of his latest exhibition, “VITA DULCIS.” Guests—including Luca Guadagnino, Baz Luhrmann, Pepi Marchetti, Mahmood, Luca Bigazzi, Beatrice Bulgari, Valeria Golino, Alessandro Roja, Riccardo Scamarcio, Filippo Scotti, and Jasmine Trinca—were invited to peruse the innovative showing.

“VITA DULCIS” removes the reverent distance typically associated with viewing artifacts in a museum. Here, the Roman works are placed alongside 20th century films and Vezzoli’s own related pieces. For instance, busts of the Roman emperors Hadrian and Marcus Aurelius from the 2nd century AD are set in front of a clip playing from Mio figlio Nerone, a 1950s Italian comedy about the emperor Nero. 

The artist worked with Stéphane Verger to curate an exhibition that would reinvigorate some of the passion and intensity the ancient Romans sought to inspire. The pieces on display are set against a pitch black backdrop with spotlights and flashes of red on their pedestals. On another stand, a remnant of a statue featuring Achilles and Penthesilea is paired with Vezzoli’s own artwork from 2021, Achilles!, a bust with a flower painted over its eye.

A series of works from Prada and Vezzoli’s collaborative “24h Museum” are also on display. The 2012 project was divided into three sections at the Palais d’Iéna in Paris: historic, contemporary and forgotten. Each section, available for only 24 hours only, offered a different interpretation of femininity through sculpture, video, and other mediums. 

VITA DULCIS” is on view through August 27, 2023 at the Palazzo delle Esponsizioni in Rome.