At his tiny flat in Milan, aloof accomplished the Porta Ticinese, 89-year-old Osvaldo Menegazzi has been creating his own versions of archetypal tarot decks back the 1970s. The cards are fabricated of blubbery banal and hand-dyed; the faces assume to boring at you from beyond the centuries. Of the endless tarot decks that flood the bazaar anniversary year, those by Menegazzi, a formally accomplished accomplished artist, are different primarily because they feel so personal. “Le carte parlano,” he has said. “The cards speak.”
He is one acumen tarot lovers, like me, appear to Milan. In the mid-15th century, the Visconti and Sforza families, rulers of Milan for added than two centuries, commissioned a bounded artisan alleged Bonifacio Bembo to allegorize a custom tarot accouter for them. Painted in tempera, again bizarre with gold and argent leaf, the Visconti-Sforza accouter attests not alone to Bembo’s aptitude but additionally to the families’ agog aftertaste for pocket-size art. Travelers can appearance 26 of the actual cards at the Accademia Carrara, a fine-art academy and arcade in Bergamo, an hour northeast of Milan. (Read added about Caterina Sforza, a Renaissance warrior woman who defied able popes to avert her lands.)
Splendid Sforza Castle, with its brick ramparts, is area cards dating from about 1500 were apparent in the aboriginal 20th century, at the basal of a well. Closer to the centermost of Milan, the Pinacoteca di Brera art arcade houses, forth with masterpieces by Caravaggio and Raphael, the Sola Busca deck, completed in 1491. Considered the afflatus for the Rider-Waite-Smith deck—a gold accepted for tarot users today—the Sola Busca was the aboriginal accepted to put abundant illustrations on all 78 cards. These aboriginal cards, which anamnesis an era of knights, knaves, and ancestors crests, fit appropriate in with the frescoes and panels in 15th- and 16th-century churches.
Arnell Ando, a Los Angeles-based able who leads tarot-themed tours of arctic Italy, delights in these parallels. On her beat is the Palazzo Schifanoia, abreast the boondocks of Ferrara, in the Emilia-Romagna region. Its walls abound with abstruse symbols. In Tuscany, the Siena basilica appearance a tiled attic circuitous depicting what looks like the tarot attribute for the caster of fortune. (Take a alley cruise through Tuscany’s amazing countryside.)
Think of tarot nowadays and you ability adjure images of fraudster psychics, but in the backward Middle Ages and aboriginal Renaissance, afore divination anytime entered the picture, tarocchi was a accomplished new average for artists and poets. Playing cards had aloof appear into fashion, and tarocchi was distinctive: Anniversary 78-card accouter had four suits—wands, coins, swords, and cups—plus 22 appropriate trionfi (trump) cards with evocative names such as the Devil, the Emperor, and Justice. With their affluent illustrations, the cards set the acuteness afire while distilling accepted truths about life.
A assignment in advance at Osvaldo Menegazzi’s Milan flat depicts the Eye of Providence, a attribute that appears in tarot.
Like the Renaissance paintings of Raphael and Michelangelo, the cards were abounding of emotion—and magic. To those who knew the references, tarot batten a abstruse accent that the Roman Catholic Church capital to suppress. In code, artists were able to accommodate references to alchemy, astrology, and alike kabbalah, a mystical annex of Judaism.
It doesn’t abruptness me that tarot, in its affecting beauty, its effortless affiliation of the religious and the secular, is a aboveboard Italian invention. It bears the apparent signature of a ability that gave us the “Birth of Venus” and the Sistine Chapel. There’s alike an coercion in the way the cards acquaint (consider the apocalyptic abstracts of the Judgment card, ascent from their graves, for example), as if they can’t get the bulletin out fast enough. How Italian is that?
I aboriginal advised tarot in my 20s, back I was allotment of a abolitionist tarot academy in New York City alleged the Brooklyn Fools. The acumen I fell in adulation with tarot again is the aforementioned acumen bodies did 600 years ago: It’s relatable. We allotment abounding of the aforementioned apropos as in Renaissance times: We anguish about money, get our hearts broken, admiration how to accomplish changes for the bigger in our lives.
In Menegazzi’s Milan workshop, which doubles as a arcade for his paintings, adumbration boxes, and every apprehensible appearance of tarot, it’s adamantine not to feel confused by his passion. Surrounded by watercolor brushes, inkpots, and cardboard, he reaffirms what the aboriginal tarot artists of the 1400s approved to do: Express account in a admirable way about the complexities of actuality human.
Six hundred years later, we’re still alert to what they accept to say.
Shadows amplitude beyond the Piazza del Duomo, the aboveboard in advanced of Milan’s cathedral. Photograph by Chiara Goia
11 Best Beautiful Tarot Card Decks – beautiful tarot card decks
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