In 1987, Exploratorium photographer Susan Schwartzenberg
went to Pontito to photograph the scenes of many of Magnani's paintings.
The paintings and photos were shown in 1988, when the Exploratorium first
began investigating the subject of Memory. Today, the museum is creating
a new set of exhibits and experiences to explore human memory. Franco Magnani's
extraordinary paintings, and Susan Schwartzenberg's telling photographs,
will be featured at the upcoming exhibition, which opens in February, 1998.
Visualizing the Past
We sit in the kitchen of Franco's house in San Bruno, a
suburban community south of San Francisco with a terrain somewhat reminiscent
of the Italy of his youth. Franco disappears periodically into other rooms
and comes back with paintings of Pontito. A lanky man with a ruddy, angular
face, he tells his stories of the town with an almost childlike enthusiasm,
pointing out landmarks in the paintings. He needs little prompting to jump
from one painting, one story, to another.