19–27 July and 1–30 September 9 am-6 .30 pm
Closed in August
Working in both the theatre and the cinema, Gino Carlo Sensani defined the role of costume designer as an autonomous vocation, transforming it, including in the eyes of the public, into a position of profound expertise and cultural significance.
Born in the province of Siena in 1888, as a young man he travelled and spent time in Paris, where he dedicated his time to painting and became well known for his woodcuts. On his return to Tuscany, he spent time with the writers Aldous Huxley and DH Lawrence and intellectuals of the calibre of Marino Moretti and Aldo Palazzeschi. In 1914 he made his debut as a costume designer for the theatre and in 1932 the artistic director of Cines, Emilio Cecchi, introduced him to a career in the cinema when he entrusted him with Guido Brignone’s film Pergolesi. The cinema seems to have been the natural outlet for Sensani’s creativity and he designed the costumes for almost 90 films collaborating with Alessandrini, Camerini, Matarazzo, Blasetti, Soldati, Lattuada, and many others. His apprentice Dario Cecchi relates that he used to cover the card of his designs “with clean, new paper” and reused them again and again; he did so not out of frugality, rather “with extreme detachment, he would cover gouaches and watercolours that other people would undoubtedly have conserved because he was convinced that cinema was nothing but a remnant and therefore the pictorial images with which he gave visual life to cinematic tales should also become remnants.”
The preparation that Sensani dedicated to his costume designs was original and absolutely rigorous. As a man of exceptional taste and culture, he created costumes for a character only after a detailed literary, pictorial and historical reconstruction and an analysis of the period in which the film was set and the spaces in which the characters moved. According to Sensani, the costumes should express a psychological interpretation of the character and a figurative interpretation of the atmosphere of the film. This is the specifically artistic aspect of the costume designer’s work that he understood and taught very well. In fact, from 1935 Blasetti assigned him a position teaching costume design at the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia film school in Rome, where he transmitted his artistic and professional knowledge to his students with enormous generosity. With Sensani, a genuine school with a precise method took shape in Italy for the first time, to be carried forward in the future work of talents such as Maria de Matteis, Piero Gherardi, Dario Cecchi, Piero Tosi and Gabriella Pescucci.
Special thanks to Anna Noli, Margherita Comporti e Paolo Mereghetti