Artists from the Gulf of Poets: Interview with Francesco Vaccarone

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Francesco Vaccarone is an Italian painter and sculptor who was born in La Spezia in the Gulf of Poets. His works are displayed in public collections, universities, museums and private collections all over the world. Some of his paintings have travelled around the globe before returning to Liguria, where they are permanently exposed at Grand Hotel Portovenere.

Discover Portovenere Blog has interviewed Francesco Vaccarone to get to know this local artist of international importance.
[photo above courtesy of]

Some of your works of art are on display at Grand Hotel Portovenere and tell the story of the territory, and not only…

Indeed. Among these, two are from the early 2000s and were displayed in some of my anthological exhibitions abroad, for example in the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in Cairo and in the Eleventh & Orange Gallery in Delaware. One painting represents a summary of Cinque Terre, with its terraced slopes, cliffs along the coast, and the array of cobalt blue and emerald green of the sea. The other painting is inspired by the Nere, the rocky walls that you can admire by sea when sailing west as soon as you leave Byron’s Grotto. The Grand Hotel also has two newer paintings, one of which represents the tragic day of 8 July 1822, when poet Percy Bysshe Shelley’s boat went down in a sudden storm off the coast of the Gulf of Spezia. The other is a nocturnal painting inspired by our beautiful bay.

Francesco Vaccarone artist painting Portovenere Alle Nere
“Alle Nere”

What are the aspects that you find most important in your works of art that Guests can admire at Grand Hotel Portovenere?

These paintings and the numerous lithographs exposed in the hotel – including the ones dedicated to jazz music and displayed at the Lincoln Center in New York – are the summary of a large series dedicated to my landscape and music. Therefore, these are works of art that were selected by myself and by curators in important art exhibitions.

When you paint the Gulf of Poets and its sea… what characteristics and sensations do you feel that you cannot find elsewhere?

When I am at sea, whether on the cliffs or on a boat, I feel a great sense of freedom and mystery. Sailing creates a magical relationship between my body and the wind. It’s an emotion that can give a strong sense of self-control of both body and mind. I was away from Liguria, my land, for a long time after 1964, when I left for my studies and spent 5 years in Genoa, 6 in Rome, 15 in Milan and 5 in Stockholm. But my sea, the line of the horizon, our landscape, the scents of this land, its coast, its vegetation, the same testy traits that are like the character of Ligurians – they all give me impulses, emotions, contrasts that I cannot do without and that I’ve never found anywhere else. This is why I decided to never live permanently in cities even if they are full of artistic, cultural and professional incentives and occasions, but devoid of these emotions and contrasts, of which I feed for my work as a painter. I think of the lemon scent that inspired so many paintings, or of the anthropomorphic aspect of the agave, which led to the creation of an entire series of works dedicated to Eugenio Montale. The Gulf of Poets is my soul spot.

Francesco Vaccarone artist Cinque Terre painting
“Cinque Terre”

What are your future projects?

I am focusing on works inspired by Richard Wagner’s compositions and that will be exhibited in first preview in Bayreuth in April 2019.

A wish that you would like to come true?

A more informed, civil and conscious use of our planet, both land and sea, respecting the beauty that Nature has given us.

Thank you for your time Maestro Francesco Vaccarone!
To learn more about him and about his future exhibitions, please visit

About Francesco Vaccarone

He was born in La Spezia in 1940. He began painting at a very early age, and in 1957 he started presenting his works in solo and collective shows across Italy. The creative language of this first period was figurative and greatly influenced by German Expressionism. From 1965 to 1969 he was in close contact with poets (Gruppo 63) and artists from the Italian experimental avant-garde (“Trerosso” from Genoa, “’70” from Florence, “LineaSud” from Naples). Between 1976 and 1990, the new main conceptual focus of his work was the relationship with corporeality, physical, psychological and historical space.

In 1973 the first monograph dedicated to his work was published by the Macchi Gallery of Pisa. Other books about him include “Francesco Vaccarone, homage to the Gulf of the Poets” by Carlo Ludovico Ragghianti, director of the International University of Art in Florence; “From dawn to dusk”, by Michèle Lavallée, director of the Strasbourg Museums, and Enzo Di Martino, director of the International Graphic Art Centre in Venice; and “The ideal real” by Peter Frank, senior curator of the Riverside Art Museum, in the volume “Francesco Vaccarone opere 1957/2011”.

In 1988, Francesco Vaccarone received the “Do Forni” international award for graphic art in Venice and the Murano award; in 1997, he won an international award at the 2nd Triennale of Graphic Art in Macedonia; and in 1998 he won first prize at the IX International Biennale of Carpi dedicated to xylography. In 2011, he was awarded with the honor of Knight of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic. Among the prestigious events where he participated, are the IX Quadriennale Nazionale di Roma in 1986 and the 54 Biennale Internazionale di Venezia in 2011.

Works by Francesco Vaccarone are present in public collections, universities, museums and private collections all over the world.

Photo of Francesco Vaccarone from


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