Michelangelo's Pietà, as Rarely Seen

Robert Hupka's 1964 Photographs on Display

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 19, 2004 (Zenit.org).- A photographic exhibition in the Charlemagne Wing of the Vatican Museums, next to St. Peter's Square, boasts a new perspective on Michelangelo's Pietà.

The exhibition that opened Thursday is a collection of photographs taken by Austrian photographer Robert Hupka, who died in 2001. He took the photos when the Pietà was exhibited at the 1964 World's Fair in New York.

Hupka took colored, black and white, and aerial photos of the sculpture from all possible angles, with 35 and 400 millimeter lenses, at all hours of the day and night, when the statue was in a pavilion in New York.

"When I started, I couldn't stop until the ship that returned the statue to Italy disappeared before my eyes," the author said, in lines that present the exhibition.

"It is an experience that cannot be described in words: I was before the mystery of real greatness," he added.

According to the exhibition's organizers, "The photographer was able to discover the Pietà as no one will ever again be able to see it and as only Michelangelo had seen it until now."

Michelangelo Buonarroti was only 25 when he sculpted the Pietà from a single block of Carrara marble.

In 1972, a mentally disturbed man struck it with a hammer 15 times, disfiguring the face. After its restoration, it was installed behind bulletproof glass to avoid further attacks.

The exhibition will be open until July, and is organized by Arstella Publishers.

The publishers' Web page (www.arstella.fr) features dozens of photographs of the sculpture and additional information, for the time being only in French, on photographer Hupka.