Giordano Berti - Part 1: Collaboration

Artists and Creators in conversations about their work
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Joan Marie

Giordano Berti - Part 1: Collaboration

Post by Joan Marie » 09 Aug 2017, 09:04

Q. Giordano, you have written the storyboards for 10 modern Tarot decks. Which decks are those?
The first deck I created was not a Tarot but an Oracular deck titled Zodiac Cards, 22 images painted by Cosimo Musio under my direction and printed in 1990 by Lo Scarabeo (Turin, Italy).
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ZODIAC CARDS
Lo Scarabeo, Torino, 1990
22 cards painted by Cosimo Musio


Then, in 1994 there was organised in Venice, at Palazzo Grassi, the greatest exhibit dedicated to Celtic history and culture. The organizers of the Palazzo Grassi bookshop asked Lo Scarabeo to think up a very special item to compliment the exhibit. So, because I was involved with the Publishing House since their origins, the art director asked me to write a storyboard for a new deck of 22 cards: Celtic Tarot and Tarot of Celts. The same storyboard was interpreted by two illustrators, very different from each other in style, but both of great artistic abilities: Giacinto Gaudenzi and Antonio Lupatelli.
The Celtic Tarot by Gaudenzi was completed by Saverio Tenuta in 2002, using the storyboard for the 56 pip cards written by Bepi Vigna.
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CELTS TAROT
Lo Scarabeo, Torino, 1994
22 cards painted by Giacinto Gaudenzi


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CELTIC TAROT
Lo Scarabeo, Torino, 1994
78 cards painted by from Antonio Lupatelli


Meanwhile, in 1995 I wrote the storyboard for the Enchanted Tarot, a fantasy deck painted by Giacinto Gaudenzi and published by Lo Scarabeo.
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ENCHANTED TAROT
Lo Scarabeo, Torino, 1995
78 cards painted by Giacinto Gaudenzi


Then came the season of Tarot decks much more complex, from the design point of view. First, Dante's Tarot (2001), 78 illustrations by Andrea Serio. There’s no relationship between the game of the Tarot and the poet Dante Alighieri but, since the early Tarots were likely a didactic game, I decided to utilize them for a mnemonic play dedicated to the life and works of the great Italian poet of the Middle Ages.
The series of 22 Trumps tells the ethical, philosophical and spiritual ideas explained by Dante in the Convivio. For the Court and Pip cards I decided to change the symbols, using Bricks instead Wands, Flames instead Swords, Clouds instead Money, Lights instead Cups. On the Bricks series I told Dante’s adventurous Life; in the other series I described the most important facts exhibited in Dante’s most important poem: the Divine Comedy. So Hell is represented by Flames, Purgatory by Clouds and Paradise by Lights.
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DANTE’s TAROT
Lo Scarabeo, Torino, 2001
78 cards painted by Andrea Serio


After one year, Lo Scarabeo asked me for a new storyboard, this time dedicated to the life of the great pharaoh Ramses II. In this case, I studied Egyptian history very deeply, the art and religion at the epoch of Ramses. The collaboration with Severino Baraldi, an experienced artist of historical illustrations was absolutely important. Baraldi, very diligently, cared for the work in the smallest details, copying from the museums even the buckles for women's dresses and hairstyles. The deck was published in 2003 with the title Ramses-Tarot of Eternity.
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RAMSES, TAROT OF ETERNITY
Lo Scarabeo, Torino, 2003
Project by Giordano Berti
78 cards painted by Severino Baraldi


Shortly after, Lo Scarabeo asked me if I could write a storyboard to complete the sixteen Tarot cards kept at the National Library of Paris: called Charles the Sixth Tarot or Gringonneur Tarot. Because these cards were made in Ferrara around 1470, I decided to use as reference the great astrological frescoes painted in those same years in Palazzo Schifanoia for the duke of Ferrara Borso d'Este. After I selected about 70 pictorial details, their transformation into Tarot cards was entrusted to an able Bulgarian artist, Atanas Atanasov, who went by the nickname Jo Dworkin. In 2003 the 78-card deck was published as Golden Tarot of Renaissance-Estensi Tarot.
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GOLDEN TAROT OF RENAISSANCE
Lo Scarabeo, Torino, 2003
Project by Giordano Berti
78 cards painted by Jo Dworkin


In 2004 I received an offer to collaborate with Dal Negro, an historical publishing House of Playing Cards and Tarot decks founded in the early 20th century. Mr. Franco Dal Negro, an expert on wines, asked me to create a Tarot deck dedicate to the wines in all parts of the world. After some meditations, I conceived the idea of Bacchus Tarot. I wrote a short presentation and, together with the famous artist Luigi Scapini (author of Shakespeare Tarot and other decks) I presented it to Mr. Dal Negro. He was enthusiastic about my project. After a toast with a good sparkling wine I came back to Bologna and I started working immediately on the scenes, giving them to Luigi Scapini for the translation into images.

Following my project, I wrote a precise description of the 22 Trumps, dedicated to the mythological adventures of the Greek god Dionysus, (Bacchus to the Roman people) and the events that lead him to spread the cult of wine-making and the mysterious rites connected to the religious use of wine.
My project for the illustrations was based on classic Greek and Latin texts: The Bacchants by Euripides, Dionysiacs by Nonno of Panopolis, Metamorphosis by Ovid, and a lot of historical studies about the Mysteries of Dionysus.
The sixteen Court Cards are allegories of the most important Nations which produce wine. The 40 Numeral Cards reference vineyards, commercial business, feasts and convivial situations. Bacchus Tarot was finally published by Dal Negro in 2005 and some of the illustrations were used to create chess pieces for a set produced by the same editor.
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BACCHUS TAROT – DYONISOS TAROT
Dal Negro, Treviso, 2005
Project by Giordano Berti
78 cards painted by Luigi Scapini


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BACCHUS CHESS PIECES

Because of the success of this deck, Mr. Dal Negro asked me for another idea. So, I proposed a deck entirely dedicated to Venice. This time, the illustrator was an artist from Verona, Davide Tonato. He was already the author of the Tree of Life Oracle, 32 Kabbalistic cards for which I wrote the booklet for Lo Scarabeo, in 2004. Venice Tarot was published by Dal Negro in 2007.
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VENICE TAROT
Dal Negro, Treviso, 2007
Project by Giordano Berti
32 cards painted by David Tonato


During the same year Lo Scarabeo published another two decks created by me. The first was Angels Tarot, painted by Arturo Picca; 78-cards that, unfortunately, don't precisely follow my storyboard.

The second deck was Universal Wirth Tarot (2007), with illustrations by Stefano Palumbo. For the 22 Major Arcana, the artist followed the illustrations made in 1926 by Oswald Wirth. For the 56 Court and Numeral cards, I give Palumbo the images of an ancient book from my personal Tarot collection, The Tarot, by Eudes Picard, published in 1926. So, the work of Palumbo was to create dynamic characters and esoteric figures.
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UNIVERSAL WIRTH TAROT
Lo Scarabeo, Torino, 2007
Project by Giordano Berti
78 cards painted by Stefano Palumbo


Then, I received another interesting request from Lo Scarabeo: the project for a modern version of the Golden Dawn Tarot. For the 22 Trumps I completed the same descriptions used by a lot of Golden Dawn members; instructions written in 1904 by Mme Harriet Miller Davidson. For the remaining 56 cards I proposed making an elaboration of the Liber T written by Samuel Liddell Mathers. I liked giving the numeral cards the appearance of physical persons, rather than symbolic figures, to make clear and strong the esoteric meaning expressed by each figure. The artist chosen by Lo Scarabeo to realiSe this ambitious project was Patrizio Evangelisti. The Initiatory Tarot of the Golden Dawn was published in 2008.
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THE INITIATORY TAROT OF THE GOLDEN DAWN
Lo Scarabeo, Torino, 2008
Project by Giordano Berti
78 cards painted by Patrizio Evangelisti


During the following years I dedicated my energies to a lot of other projects, but at the same time the idea of a revolutionary Tarot deck based on the Bible grew inside me. One that deeply connected to the Universalist Philosophy that inspired and still inspires the followers of the Rosicrucian’s philosophy. My ambition was to create 78 images in harmony with any religion and humanitarian doctrine. My project started from the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot because of particular feeling with the esoteric doctrines of the English thinker Arthur Edward Waite. So, I started to note the quotations of the Bible wherever he saw some affinities with the Rider-Waite-Smith figures. Then, I decided to give the task of making the 78 illustrations to Severino Baraldi, expert both in illustrations of ancient history and in representations of recent events. Baraldi, moreover, had already painted various Tarot decks for Lo Scarabeo, some of them following my story boards.
After three years of very hard work, finally, in February 2017, the Prophetic Tarot of the Bible came to the light, printed by Rinascimento and Araba Fenice in 130 numbered copies.
It is a truly stunning deck, whose illustrations reflect problems and contradictions of our days. The 78 images, in fact, are inspired from characters of contemporary history. In accordance with a well-established tradition, the 22 Trumps are archetypes of the main human experiences. Cups are linked to life’s emotional components. Pentacles to the economic dimension. Wands to the work-place, political or professional relationships. Swords to human conflicts. In essence, each image takes on a new, “prophetic meaning” in the biblical sense, describing a material, psychological or spiritual condition, that everyone is capable of improving. The divination methods that I described in the booklet will open the door to a new way of seeing and interpreting the Tarot.
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PROPHETIC TAROT OF THE BIBLE
Rinascimento and Araba Fenice, 2017
Project by Giordano Berti
78 cards painted by Severino Baraldi


Before this last Great Work (but not least), I started to collaborate with Rinascimento and Araba Fenice for a great project of reprint of ancient Tarot decks, starting from the Sola Busca Tarot. But this is another story.

(Giordano ended on bit of cliffhanger here. Next we will talk about the Sola-Busca Tarot, it's arcane symbolism and it's strange journey from the 15th to the 21st century)

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