Franco Magnani – Memory Artist

Link to Frank Magnani’s website with examples of his artwork: Frank Magnani

Franco Magnani also experienced a sudden artistic talent. Magnani was a cook in Italy who travelled to San Francisco in 1965 for a vacation. While there, he became seriously ill. After his illness, he suffered from “high fever nightmares” that had the qualities of seizures. During these episodes, he would see visions of his childhood city in Tuscany, Pontito, as it had been before the Nazis came. He described the visions as “rising up” in front of him. He then painted in great detail the sight experiences he had.

During this time, Franco began having astonishingly vivid and detailed dreams of Pontito, visions he could actually see before him. He felt called to paint the scenes of his childhood home, and was amazed to find that he could do so, without ever having had any formal artistic training. He began to create hundreds of “memory paintings” of the buildings, streets and fertile surroundings of his pre-war Pontito, with a perspective unique to him. The scenes he imagined were so real and three-dimensional that Franco would turn his head to “see” them from different angles as he painted, and he experienced the sounds and smells around him. This desire to capture the Pontito of his youth became the driving force of his life from this time forward.