Cantastorie - An art exhibition at Kunsthaus Zurich

Cantastorie - An art exhibition at Kunsthaus Zurich

CANTASTORIE – The story-singing tradition from Italy

Traveling story tellers have appeared in history since the 6th century in e.g. India, Nepal and China where they also used painted banners to tell a story accompanied by songs and they’re still performed today. The Japanese had separate panels that were scrolled down and sometimes they were illuminated and tiny dolls were appearing, which developed in the 20th century to hidden stories in a box where people had to pay to peek in.

In Europe this phenomenon became popular in the 16th century and especially in Italy, where the used similar scrolls as the Japanese with a person singing the story, pointing at the pictures at the same time. It was mainly stories and legends in southern Europe, meanwhile this practise was used in central and Northern Europe to tell about sensational scandals, deaths, fires and murders which was not equally appreciated or accepted[1].

The “Cantastorie” of Italy, which the paintings represents often had poetic texts and associated spontaneously or rehearsed invented songs, accompanied by instruments by the storyteller’s choice. The Cantastorie has its origins in Florence, where evidence of how they constructed and composed the music has been found together with interesting information of how important it was to become a popular and charismatic performer[2].




The screens, the music and the stories!


Cantastorie-pictures in Interiors

They’re rather daring, a bit scary, but at the same time colourful and happy!

Most of them might not be suitable for a young childs room, but many could provide an interesting addition in any room. It all depends on how the whole style is created. Below moodboard show’s one idea of how to use a Cantastorie picture in a classic but contemporary setting. The subtle colours of the painting are used throughout the room in different ways. The whimsical armchair and cupboard relate to picture by their imagintive shapes. The canopy bed is a nod to heraldic theme of the picture, meanwhile sofa, sculpture, rug and lighting makes the whole more current by being contemporary.



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