The Francesco Messina Studio Museum is housed in the former ancient Church of St. Sisto, almost hidden in the quiet, small San Sisto street, an alley on the side of central and very busy Via Torino.
The Museum has on display around a hundred works by the twentieth-century Italian artist and sculptor and hosts countless temporary exhibitions and activities related to the world of contemporary art and sculpture.
The entrance is always free and offers a pleasant rest from the bustle of the nearby shopping street.
In 1969 the church was deconsecrated and at risk of demolition: the City Hall granted it on loan to the Sicilian sculptor Francesco Messina (1900-1995), who at the time taught sculpture at Accademia di Brera and was looking for a new space in which to continue his work after retirement. At his expense, the sculptor restored the church, transforming it into his art studio. In 1974, by donating to the city about forty of his representative works, he laid the basis for the inception of his own monographic museum.
After Messina’s death, the Studio Museum was again a property of the City Hall and became a Municipal Museum with free admission. It houses the artist’s permanent collection, which has gradually been enriched by new acquisitions and donations.
Created at different stages in the Master’s life, the works on display in the Museum document his great technical ability and interest in realism.
Most of the sculptures on display are in bronze, but there are some precious works in polychrome terracotta, plaster, marble and wax, and many works on paper: lithographs, watercolours, pencils and pastels, which fully document the transition from a flat image to the completeness of form in sculpture.
The works are expressive of that vital moment animating the running horses as well as the flexuous dancers and boxers, or the portraits of people - famous or unknown - of the twentieth century.
In the collection’s subjects, a choice of the themes that have most affected the artistic path of Messina can be found. An incessant search for realistic rendering and a constant reach to ancient models dominates both subjects and technique:
- the portrait, which is above all a psychological expression and characterization;
- the body, especially naked, as a manifestation of life and synthesis of divine and human, ideal and real;
- the energy of the movement of bodies in space in the series of horses and dancers;
- the taste for the fragment, so typical of the twentieth century, but which in Messina is also an archaeological reference to the ruins from which expression of the transience of things can be drawn;
- religious subjects, on which the artist has also worked for important commissions;
- mythical figures inspired by classicism.