Art Installation by Santiago Calatrava Opens at Church of San Gennaro in Naples

Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte


NAPLES, ITALY (July 6, 2021) –  Reopened to the public after 50 years, the Church of San Gennaro in Naples has inaugurated a chapel redecorated with a multi-layered art installation designed pro bono by architect and engineer Santiago Calatrava. An initiative of the Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte, the Chapel features porcelain objects, stained glass, and textiles from specialized Italian manufacturers and artisans.



"I’m proud and honored to have made this installation in the Church of San Gennaro and for the City of Naples,” said Santiago Calatrava. “Thank you to the officials of the Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte who have trusted me to deliver a new element to this historic church. My key intentions for this installation are twofold: to display the sacred character of nature around us and to understand the sacred artistic abilities of the human hand, both of which need our protection"



Honoring the significance of Capodimonte's surrounding 134-hectare public park and the former summer residence and hunting lodge of the king of Naples and Sicily, Calatrava designed the installation with natural motifs of flora, fauna and the cosmos. Celebrating the ancient traditions and artistry of local manufacturers, Calatrava incorporated silk textiles from the Royal Silk factory of San Luecio in Caserna, made by the “Annamari Alois” atelier, porcelain objects from La Scuola Internazionale della Porcellana di Capodimonte, and stained glass from Maestro vetraio Antonio Perotti from Vietri sul Mare. Artisans like these have become almost a rarity in Italy today and this installation supports and promotes their extraordinary work.



Calatrava’s artistic vision accentuates the existing architectural and decorative features of the Chapel’s baroque interior, through:

  • painting the interior walls white and dark blue;
  • placing vibrant-colored stained glass windows bound with the ancient lead technique, featuring both natural and religious imagery, throughout the Chapel;
  • placing ceramic objects such as candle holders, vases, ceiling adornments, which feature images of angels, doves, flowers and stars, throughout the Chapel;
  • adorning each of the three altars with large textiles, each of them decorated with images of leaves, flowers and doves; and
  • murals of doves painted by Calatrava in the niches on each side of the altar.



The Church of San Gennaro, located inside of the Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte, was built in 1745 at the behest of Charles III of Bourbon and was intended as a parish church for nearby forest workers. It was originally projected by architect and stage designer Ferdinando Sanfelice.



Cooordinated on site by Engineer Vito Avino from Salerno, this installation is directly linked to the collection of Calatrava’s work featured nearby in an exhibition “Nella Luce di Napoli,” which is currently running at the Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte. Hundreds of Calatrava’s architectural models, sculptures, paintings, drawings and ceramics are on display.



The installation in the Church of San Gennaro in Naples joins other iconic projects completed by Santiago Calatrava in Italy: the bridges and high-speed railway station in Reggio Emilia, the Ponte della Costituzione (Constitution Bridge) in Venice, and the “San Francesco” Bridge over the Crati river in Cosenza.



The exhibition Santiago Calatrava: In the Light of Naples offers an unprecedented reflection on the architect’s forty-year career, revealing his rich artistic production through a completely new perspective: light, one of the fundamental component of all of his great architecture. An innovative lighting design project will make possible a new narration of all the facets of his work, exploring in detail his bold use of materials and colors, enhancing his sculptural forms, deepening pictorial research and ceramic production.



The exhibition was conceived by Studio Calatrava and realized in collaboration with the design studio Ing. Vito Avino and the appointed architect of the Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte, Renata Marmo. Fundamental contributions were made by the Museum’s technical partners: Tessuti d'arte Annamaria Alois di San Leucio (Caserta), Ance-Aies Salerno, Cimolai Spa, FioreLegno srl, Ferrara Costruzioni, iGuzzini illuminazione Spa, Antonio Perotti Design, Gesac-Aeroporto internazionale di Napoli, and the journal AD for its media partnership. The exhibition is supported by the Amici di Capodimonte onlus and the Istituto ad indirizzo raro Caselli-DeSanctis / Real Fabbrica di Capodimonte.


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