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rganised and presented by Arstella.

n collaboration with the Government of the Vatican State.

ith the participation of the IGS group (Institut de Gestion Sociale)


Under the patronage of:

  • The Pontifical Council for Culture with Em. the Cardinal Paul Poupard
  • The Minister of Culture of the City of Rome
  • The French Embassy in the Vatican with Exc. Mister Pierre Morel.


With the patronage of:

  • Mister Pier Ferdinando Casini: President of the Deputy Chamber,
  • Mister Silvio Berlusconi : President of the Governement,
  • Mister Giuliano Urbani: Ministre of Goods an Cultural Activities,
  • Mister Francesco Storace: President of the Latium,
  • Mister Walter Veltroni: Mayor of Rome,
  • Mrs Maria Coscia : Assessor to Education and Scholar Affairs,
  • Mister Piervirgilio Dastoli : European Commission deleguee for Italy,
  • Mister Vincent Aucante: Director of the Cultural Center of Saint-Louis de France


With the special acknowledge of:

  • Mister Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, President of the Italian Republic.


And the support of:

Alitalia, Gan Assicurazioni, Gioco del Lotto, H3G, Kodak, Lafarge Adriasebina,
Leerdammer, LVMH, Podravska Banka, World Business Financial

Technical sponsors:

Il Messaggero, L'Osservatore Romano

Thanks to:

Ashmolean Museum - Oxford,
Canton Art Institut - Ohio,
Musei Vaticani - Città del Vaticano,
Sforzesco Museum - Milano,
Institut du Sacré Cœur - La Trinité des Monts

n 2004, the "Michelangelo's Pieta" exhibition, organised by the Editions Arstella, based on Robert Hupka's admirable photographs of Michelangelo's masterpiece, has be presented in Rome, actually in St Peter's Place.

he exhibition was organised with the help of the government of the Vatican State, under the patronage of the Pontifical Council for Culture and of the French Embassy in the Vatican, and also under the patronage, and the active participation, of the City of Rome.

t was presented from March to July 2004, a hundred metres from Michelangelo's masterpiece itself, in the superb room known as "Braccio di Carlomagno", designed by Le Bernin, which is on St. Pëter's Place itself, between the basilica and the colonnade.

y contemplating the Pieta through the eyes of Robert Hupka, the visitors will thus be able to have a unique experience of communion through Beauty, for as one journalist wrote, "No eye, however sharp, has ever contemplated the Pieta with so much love".

Speech delivered by His Eminence, Cardinal Paul Poupard,
President of the Pontifical Council for Culture
at the inauguration of the exhibition
of photographs by Robert Hupka: Michelangelo's 'Pieta'

Braccio di Carlo Magno, Vatican City
March 18th 2004
Sir Ambassador,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am truly pleased and honoured to inaugurate this Photographic Exhibition dedicated to Michelangelo's Pietà, so near to the masterpiece itself. After crossing numerous capitals and major European cities, this exhibition of exceptional, magnificent photographs by Robert Hupka finally reaches the Vatican, to settle next to to the original model and provide an opportunity for a closer look and a deeper insight into young Michelangelo Buonarrotti's masterpiece.

I thank sincerely all those who organized the exhibition, especially Daniel Courant, for having invited me to this momentous cultural event, as well as the Ambassador of the French Republic to the Holy See . By some curious coincidence, once again in the history of the Pietà, a Cardinal and a French Ambassador are present. It was indeed Jean Bilhères de Lagraulas, Cardinal and Ambassador of France to the Holy See, who commissioned this statue of the Pietà to the young Florentine artist in 1497; it was to be placed in Saint Petronilla's chapel, the chapel of the Kings of France, an annexe of the Old St Peter's Basilica.

Before going on to admire the remarkable and exceptional photographs of Robert Hupka, who unfortunately passed away on 3rd July 2001, I would like to sketch out briefly the story of his human and spiritual experience. For this provides a clue to the production of this profuse photographic material relating to the Pietà, of which only a part has been utilised for the exhibition.

The photographer, a Viennese, with a passion for music, dreamt of becoming a conductor, and therefore followed constantly the great Maestro Arturo Toscanini, regarding whom also, he has left an interesting photographic report.

I think, I can say without exaggeration, that he fell in love with this exceptional work of art, and clicked thousands of photographs, employing every possible camera and technique at his disposal.

I ask myself: what reality must have attracted Robert Hupka so intensely? What did he see, or feel, in this work? Why was he left bewitched and in ecstasy as if struck by lightning?

For him, a passionate connoisseur of music, there could be but one answer: he perceived, deep within his heart, with a sensitiveness, so peculiar to him, that deep and sublime harmony in which the whole experience of mankind is pooled and manifested. The Pietà thus appeared to him as the most perfect score. A sore in which all notes and all chords merge together, not into a noisy dissonance, but into a harmonious music, as a voice speaking to the heart and to the spirit, awaking man to himself and bringing him closer to the Creator, to the love that "moves the sun and the stars", to the primary source of every harmony.

The light of the Pietà did reverberate in the eyes and in the heart of Robert Hupka, and this is why he sought with passion, almost with Toscanini's fervour and impetuosity, to immortalize through photographs and through the art of photography, this harmony and this perfection.

I believe that if we do not take at least a brief look, at the inner developments, and the spiritual path of Robert Hupka, one cannot grasp the full meaning of this exhibition and the success it has been enjoying over the past ten years.

We too can benefit from this exhibition now that we are able to discover details hitherto unseen and usually difficult to observe in the masterpiece of Michelangelo. Moreover, it offers us a precious opportunity, especially in this Lenten period, to contemplate the mystery of beauty and harmony, the " mystery of true greatness ", as Hupka himself states it.

A beauty that speaks the deepest and most intense human language, but at the same time reveals God's pathos for man, his will to send his Son in the flesh, to love and to redeem our own mortal flesh.

Further, one cannot remain indifferent before the Pietà, one cannot help feeling compelled to reflect on the journey of mankind, from birth to death, beginning precisely with this encounter between the human element and the Divine, through Mary, the Mother, and Christ, Son of God and Son of Man. In fact, from this encounter, from this vital and essential link of love, spring the harmony and beauty which make the Pietà an absolute masterpiece, for all times and for all cultures.

Thus, Robert Hupka, through his extraordinary photographs, invites us to contemplate this masterpiece, so that we may participate deeply and intensely in its sense of harmony and sense of beauty.

I am reminded of these magnificent words from John Paul II's Letter to the artists, which I had the pleasure and honour to present at Holy See's Press Office on the 23rd of April 1999: "Beauty is a key to the mystery and a call to transcendence. It is an invitation to savour life and to dream of the future. That is why the beauty of created things can never fully satisfy. It stirs that hidden nostalgia for God which a lover of beauty like Saint Augustine could express in incomparable terms: "Late have I loved you, beauty so old and so new: late have I loved you!"." (Confessions, 10,27).

The photographic artwork of Robert Hupka takes us back to the sublime art of Michelangelo, and arouses in us, today, the same mysterious nostalgia. So, we are deeply grateful to him, and we remember his achievement with admiration.

We also wish to thank all those who willingly and tirelessly worked to organize this exhibition with competence and professional skill, here in this place where its real significance can be better understood than anywhere else, where it can be experienced so to speak as an initiatory journey, before one moves to admire the original, endowed with a much keener perception, being able to reach, beyond the harmony of shapes, the beauty of mystery, and the mystery of beauty.

Thank you."

Location of the exhibition

Vatican - Saint Peter's Plazza

"Braccio di carlomagno"


Design and production : Arstella

Artistic advisor: Jean-Luc LEGUAY


Exhibition settlement: F B Arredamenti s.r.l.- Alfredo VESCOVI

Photographs prints: PUBLIMOD'PHOTO

Photographs mounting: CELIMAGE

Coordination in Roma: Vinciane GRÉBAN DE SAINT-GERMAIN

Joachim GATTI
Vittorio de GRANDE
Marie-Stéphan GUEY
Tiziana REALE
Guillaume du RIVAU
Christian BECERRA

Communication: SRI - Socially Responsible Italia

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