Alberto Sordi

Alberto Sordi

Rome – State Funeral at San Giovanni in Laterano
Overall size 89 x 143 cm

A wall mounted work fashioned as a diptych and polyptych

22 images all b/w silver prints on fibre-based paper

Alberto Sordi (15 June 1920 – 25 February 2003) also known as Albertone, Cavaliere di Gran Croce, was a very talented Italian and international actor. He was also a film director and the dubbing voice of Oliver Hardy in the Italian version of the Laurel & Hardy films.

He was really masterful in two broad roles: one being the one of the underdog, militating against injustices and prevarications, the other that of the prevaricator himself.

In a career that spanned seven decades, Sordi established himself as an icon of Italian cinema with his representative skills at both comedy and light drama. His movie career began in the late 1930s with bit parts and secondary characters in wartime movies.

A crowd of all ages in excess of a million gathered to pay their last respects at his funeral at the Basilica of St John Lateran (a very important Roman Catholic Church), the largest of such events ever attended in Rome, second only to that of Pope John Paul II who died two years later.

The Papal Basilica of St John Lateran in Italian Arcibasilica Papale di San Giovanni in Laterano, commonly known as St John Lateran’s Archbasilica and St John Lateran’s Basilica, is the cathedral church of the Diocese of Rome and the official ecclesiastical seat of the Bishop of Rome, who is the Pope. As the cathedral of the Bishop of Rome, it ranks above all other churches in the Catholic world, including St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City. It is the oldest and ranks first among the four Papal Basilicas or major basilicas of Rome (having the cathedra of the Bishop of Rome) it claims the title of ecumenical mother church among Roman Catholics.

Alberto Sordi was a native of Rome born in Trastevere who in the eyes of his fellow Italians and particularly Romans reached the status of a cultural hero, a national icon and one might say he was almost a national monument. The day of his funeral was a kind of National Holiday.

This work fits well with Masi’s interest in social capital and the portrait.

“I am particularly interested in special public events and festivals – those occasions when people gather together to share an experience, a kind of glue or kind of social capital and how this encounter can be manifest through the photographic portrait. This experiential moment can, in my view, be in some instances more important than the original reason for having the event or festival. I am also interested in the nature of the portrait as a document of this experience, and how one can interact with its continuing traditional position as a medium for portraiture”.

Exhibition provenance

Sainsbury Gallery, The British School at Rome, Rome, Italy, 2003
Hafnarborg Institute of Culture and Fine Art, Hafnarfjorour, Iceland, 2007