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Tolkien. Man, Professor, Author

16 November - 11 February 2024

Tolkien. Man, Professor, Author. Exhibition at the National Gallery, Rome
© Haywood Magee/Getty Images

National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art (GNAM), Rome

The exhibition at the GNAM in Rome “Tolkien. Man, professor, author” aims to illustrate the varied souls of this fantastic and kaleidoscopic figure of philologist, linguist, poet and university professor, but a great passionate reader of Nordic sagas since he was a child and creator of contemporary myths.

A professor as conscientious and attentive in his studies as he was original and eccentric in his teaching method, the inventor of the hobbits was faithful to an aesthetic ideal that led him to identify myth as the privileged way to scrutinize the concreteness of everyday life.

With the fiftieth anniversary of the death of J.R.R Tolkien, Italy is also offering an exhibition that explores the author, his works and his legacy today. Works of art, memorabilia, autograph manuscripts and rare images, inspired by his literary utopias, outline Tolkien’s engaging cultural and human richness which is meticulously described in an exhibition of these dimensions, the first ever dedicated in Italy to the writer.

Middle Earth

The pride of fairy tales and fantastic literature is populated mainly by the Children of Ilúvatar (Elves and Men) and Dwarves, engaged in competing for millennia the hegemony of Middle Earth with Morgoth and Sauron and their endless companies of Orcs and Black Men submitted to the two Dark Lords.

From Tolkien’s boundless imagination, stories were born that have risen to global fame such as The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit and The Silmarillion, translated into thirty-eight languages and published all over the world, a phenomenon that involves at least five generations of readers from all over the world.

Tolkien and cinema

In addition to the documentation coming from film adaptations, such as the animated film by Ralph Bakshi, there is ample space for old and new films, the most famous of which is the Lord of the Rings trilogy  by director Peter Jackson, earning 17 Oscar awards, who staged one of the most heroic and popular sagas of world literature on film.

The relationship with Italy

The event highlights the relationship that the influential author had with Italy: “I am in love with Italian, and I feel quite lost without the possibility of trying to speak it “. In one of his letters we read this particular note, also confirming the multiple relationships with Italian scholars and intellectuals. Furthermore, the testimonies of the trip to Venice and Assisi in 1955 are clearly documented.

Conceived and promoted by the Ministry of Culture with the collaboration of the University of Oxford, it is created byC.O.R. Create Organize Realize with the curatorship of Oronzo Cilli and the co-curatorship and organization of Alessandro Nicosia.

The catalog that accompanies the exhibition, also composed of unpublished materials, makes use of the contributions of Adriano Monti Buzzetti Colella, Giuseppe Pezzini, Emma Giammattei, Francesco Nepitello, Chiara Bertoglio, Gianluca Comastri, father Guglielmo Spirito, Fabio Celoni, Davide Martini, Roberta Tosi , Salvatore Santangelo, Stefano Giuliano, Claudio Mattia Serafin, Gianfranco de Turris, Paolo Paron and Domenico Dimichino.

Rome will be the first stop on a journey that will continue in 2024 in other Italian cities.

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