The lithographer of “Giro d’Italia”

Every year Vico Calabrò and Giancarlo Busato creates a new lithographs about the Tour of Italy.

Is the work of the lithographer art or craft? The words Art and Artisan share the same root and it is therefore natural to think that there are also similarities between those who carry out these activities.

In the collective imagination, however, an artist is often envisioned as a person imaginative, creative and unpredictable while an artisan is imagined as connected to a more repetitive and routine manual activity.

However, nothing could be further from the truth. The true artisan is one who creates, experimenting and inventing new solutions every day, alone and with his staff and, perhaps, the Renaissance word “Bottega” is the one that best represents this form of artistic spirit. Therefore, it is natural that many artisans such as the lithographer show unusual creative behavior typical of artists.

And this is the case of Giancarlo Busato, one of the few still practicing as a traditional lithographer – the technique of printmaking using special limestone from quarries near Munich in Bavaria. Giancarlo had learned from his grandfather, a leading Art Printer in Vicenza in what is considered as an historic shop.

Giancarlo has spent his entire life as a lithographer working with artists and it was natural that he acquired the vagaries of life and philosophy. But the phone call with him yesterday surprised me. For a month I could not contact him because, as I found out, he has followed the Giro d’Italia with his friend, artist Vico Calabrò, and their stories are full of joyful poetry and philosophy typical of free spirits.

For 28 years Vico has demonstrated his passion for cycling and made lithographs of a scene from the city where the Giro starts and this has allowed him to follow the tour as a guest using his car to tour the streets of the route ahead of the cyclists by a few km. He knows all the characters and stars of the Giro and his lithographs have become a collector’s item, because you cannot buy one but only receive it as a gift. For 6 years Giancarlo has followed him in this his peregrination, after having realized the lithographs with his friend Vico.

What is the pleasure of following the race without actually following the sporting event?

The answer from Giancarlo is amazing and full of his love for life. “I see Italy at 40 km per hour next to a great artist who tells stories, and besides at the end of each stage I can hear the stories of cyclists live and be able to share their emotions.”

Is this a response from an artist or an artisan?

I think it is a response of a philosopher and I can think of a wonderful Neapolitan saying widely used among craftsmen (as I learned on building sites): “signurì, state in mano all’arte” which translated it means “lady, you have met the person who is an artist in this work”