Craftsman of colour. Citizen of the world. Massimo Cruciani was born in Rome in 1946, but it is in Umbria that his restless wanderings concluded many years later.
At twenty he was already a professional photographer. His talented determination to transform a black and white image into a photographic painting, the fruit of countless hours spent in the darkroom, became an act of painting without brushes; a kind of personal experimentation that incorporated avant-garde techniques with a youthful imagination eager to embrace spaces and experiences beyond the ordinary.
During this formative phase in his artistic development, Massimo Cruciani worked as a set photographer at Cinecittà in Rome (1967-1968) on the first and second series of the RAI television production La Famiglia Benvenuti, by A. Giannetti.
Anna Magnani's photo dedication to Massimo Cruciani
Letter from Anna Magnani thanking Massimo Cruciani for his work
Following this he became a freelance photo reporter, travelling the world; throughout Asia for a year (1969) and the USA (1970-71), where he worked in the photographic studio of Maurice Seymour in Chicago.
Massimo Cruciani in Afghanistan, 1969
Whenever work became routine, his spontaneity resurfaced and his inexhaustible lust for life would propel him once more in search of new experiences. He spent time in Mexico and Canada (1972) and then returned to Rome (1973) to work for the Master Photo Agency.
In 1974 Cruciani mooved to Umbria where paint brushes took over the role of his camera.
After an intensive apprenticeship in the studio of the painter G. Adami, he moved from oils to acrylics, to watercolours, and then to painting on glass. The misty-toned colours, amorphous shapes, and the transparency of his medium, create continuous variations of light and shadows. His work charms all those who share his sense of freedom and an understanding of that ‘restless, soulful searching’.
Since his debut at the Festival of the Two Worlds in Spoleto in 1976 (La Legnaia, Clara del Re Gallery), Cruciani spent the following years refining his techniques and building on his passion for this art form. As a self-defined craftsman of colour, he never tires of exploring in that realm where desire meets the imagination and there discovering those special moments when reality intermingles with fantasy.
Spoleto, 1976 - Galleria La Legnaia
Poetry and art evening in Spoleto
Massimo Cruciani has participated in numerous individual and collective exhibitions both in Italy and abroad.
Some career highlights include: teaching (1978-1979) trimester courses in glass painting at the University of North Colorado Italian Center in Figline Valdarno (Tuscany), and illustrating (1995) a book entitled "Francesco of Assisi" by Italian journalist Adriano Cioci, with thirty-four of his original paintings on glass.
Il Messaggero - “Francesco” book launching event
In the autumn of 1996, Romanian Padre Cojacaru Gheorglie entrusted him with the entire creative project for the windows of the new Basilica Catolica in Bacau, which was inaugurated in July 1997.
In spring of that same year, the Consulate General of Lugano hosted Cruciani’s "Assisi in Ticino" exhibition, where ninety of his glass paintings toured various cities in Switzerland.
Assisi in Ticino, Aprile 1997
Pope John Paul II received him at a public meeting on the 15th October 1997, accepting Cruciani’s donation of a glass painting entitled ‘Francesco’ for the Vatican Contemporary Art Museum.
Pope John Paul II blessing Cruciani's gift "Francesco"
In January 2000 on the occasion of the “PILGRIM OF PEACE” Award (previously presented to Luciano Pavarotti, Mother Theresa, and Gorbacëv, among others) Cruciani met the next receipient Dr. (Hunter) Patch Adams and gifted him a specially designed version of his large “Canticle of the Creatures” painting for his children’s hospital in West Virginia, USA.
Dr. (Hunter) Patch Adams and Massimo Cruciani playfully exchanging outfits
Dedication to Massimo and Lisa Cruciani
In April 2002 Cruciani published his book, "The Long Road East", which features a collection of his black & white photographs and poems created on his journey by car from Italy across Asia through Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India in 1969. The book was launched on the occasion of his photographic exhibition at La Loggia dei Lanari Gallery in Perugia, Italy, hosted by the Arts and Cultural Office of the Region of Umbria.
“The Long Road East” book cover
April 2002, Rosa Maria Falvo, curator and translator of Massimo’s book 'The Long Road East', with Adriano Cioci, author of ‘Francesco of Assisi’
In 2004 he exhibited his work in San Diego, where he was also invited the following year to show a series of paintings inspired by the cities in California. (“California Collection” see San Diego 2004 under “Exhibitions”).
San Diego - Artisan Design Group
In 2006 Cruciani embarked on Asia and Hong Kong in particular, where he exhibited at the Galleria Lee Gardens. In the following 4 years he organized 4 other shows, the most important being in 2010 at the Gallery by the Harbour (Harbour City), which included Cruciani’s black and white photographs printed on canvas. (See Hong Kong 2006 under “Exhibitions”).
Hong Kong newspaper, “Tai Kung Pao”, with an extensive article on the show
In May 2008 he was invited by the UNESCO Club in Assisi to create a painting for a conference held at the Convent of San Damiano. Cruciani produced “Cantico delle Creature”, acrylic on glass, 70x100cm, and an image poster for the “Reliving the Canticle of the Creatures” conference.
Assisi, Church of San Damiano. Event poster
Assisi, Santuario di San Damiano. Massimo Cruciani with Claudio Ricci, Major of Assisi
In 2011 he created four large floral paintings on glass for David Domoney’s ‘Naked Garden’ at the Hampton Flower Show (UK), which received the silver prize for this edition.
In August of that same year during the Edinburgh Festival, Derek Edgar organized a very successful exhibition in his newly renovated, majestic villa that took him seven years to complete.
A glass work by Massimo Cruciani, and David Domoney with Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
Dubai was the final stop on his 2013 world tour, with a show in March at the “Mercato” in the prestigious Jumeirah resort strip.
Again in 2013, Cruciani produced ten paintings for the “Third Order Regular Rule” Manual (edited by Sister Kathleen Moffatt OSF, Aston) and he was also the guest of honour at the PA Franciscan conference.
With Sister Kathleen Moffatt OSF and the “Third Order Regular Rule” manual
In recent years he has hosted several studio visits in Assisi for important celebrities in the sporting and entertainment industries, and all of them have collected his paintings. We would especially like to thank Gina Lollobrigida (actress), Andrea Ranocchia (Italian soccer player), Dino De Laurentis and Silvia D’Amico (film producers) and Bernie Ecclestone (King of "Formula One") to name a few...
Silvia D'Amico e Aurelio De Laurentis
Mr. Bernie Ecclestone
Since 1981 he has lived and worked in Assisi, "where it is possible to meet the world without leaving the studio".