closed SMENS

The show

The exhibition traces the long history of xylographic and typographic art, through the dialogue and comparison between some ancient illustrated editions of the Royal Library and the plates engraved by Gianfranco Schialvino and Gianni Verna for the magazine SMENS. The review celebrates the entry into the collections of the Royal Library of Turin of the entire corpus of the SMENS magazine, donated by Gianfranco Schialvino and Gianni Verna.

From 13 January to 25 March 2023, the Royal Library of Turin hosts an exhibition that traces the history of xylography, starting from the experience of the SMENS magazine, founded by two Piedmontese artists, Gianfranco Schialvino and Gianni Verna; a refined project that brings poetry and art into dialogue and pays homage to the charm of wood engraving.

Published in a limited edition, printed on cotton paper and with a hand press, with lead characters, SMENS is illustrated with original works by the creators themselves and by important figures of contemporary art such as Barry Moser, Leonard Baskin, Nespolo, Salvo and others .

The exhibition, curated by Gianfranco Schialvino and Gianni Verna, promoted and organized by the Nuova Xilografia cultural association, proposes a comparison between the wood engravings contained in some incunabula and editions of the sixteenth century conserved in the Royal Library - such as the Liber chronicarum by Hartmann Schedel , the Libellus de natura animalium, the Opera de' facti e precepti militari by Roberto Valturio – with 11 works created by Gianfranco Schialvino and Gianni Verna for SMENS.

The SMENS adventure, which Gianfranco Schialvino defined as "a bizarre idea at the time, but a winner precisely because of this characteristic of being apparently absurd", began in 1997 with the birth of the Nuova Xilografia association, and was published every six months in eleven numbers up to 2003.

The first ten copies are dedicated to a series of key concepts of thought, mostly based on opposition: 'black and white', 'good and evil', 'truth and falsehood', 'nature and culture', 'sacred and profane', 'panem et circenses', 'dream and reality', 'will and destiny', 'verba et res', 'alpha and omega'; the last issue, on the other hand, is entitled to 'madness'. The magazine and its publishers become a crossroads of dialogue between writers, artists, critics and thinkers. Among the drafters of the texts are authors such as Mario Luzi, Norman Mailer, Mario Rigoni Stern, Gianfranco Ravasi, Federico Zeri, Roberto Sanesi, Elémire Zolla, as well as the great voices of Piedmont, including Nico Orengo, Guido Ceronetti, Francesco Tabusso, Giacomo Soffiantino, while the illustrations were made by important xylographers, such as Barry Moser, Leonard Baskin, Evgenij Bortnikov, Jean Marcel Bertrand, Nespolo, Salvo, Tabusso as well as the founders of the magazine themselves.


Works on display

Timetable and tickets


Piazzetta Reale, 1
10122 Turin


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