Nannetti "colonel astral" - May 13 through October 30, 2011


The psychiatric hospital of Volterra featured but one place where the patients could take in the sky and the fresh air - namely, the courtyard where they could take their daily walk. Some played cards, while others conversed or smoked pilfered cigarette butts. One of them, a young man of thirty-two, conspicuously kept to himself: Fernando Oreste Nannetti never spoke to anyone. Every day, however, he would write on the prison walls, using the metal tongue of his jacket clasp. Within a nine-year period he created an enormous written oeuvre covering a wall 70 meters (230 feet) long.

These carved writings, reminiscent of Etruscan characters, reveal a staggering universe between dream and reality, science and fantasy. At times, Nannetti endowed the family he dreamt up for himself with papal or royal ancestry. Convinced as he was of being in touch with supernatural, cosmic presences, he put into poetry his relations with the interstellar world, as well as with the earth and its bowels. Seeing himself as "an astronaut, a mining engineer of the mental system", Nannetti donned the title of "Astral Colonel".

A fanciful diary keeper, he would whip words and sentences into a frenzy with plays on their rhythm and sound, while interspersing his "pages" with drawings: writing and figuration are combined in unusual fashion in his "stone book".

The first to present a retrospective of Fernando Nannetti’s oeuvre, this exhibition displays fragments of his writings (facsimile versions), photographs bearing witness to his work as a whole, and pictures of the Volterra psychiatric hospital. An award-winning documentary film invites viewers to become familiar with the unique story behind this Art Brut production.

The Collection de l’Art Brut extends heartfelt thanks to Pier Nello Manoni, the photographer and film director whose initiative spurred this homage. It is also grateful to notably Aldo Trafeli, Erika Manoni and Alessandro Bonifazi for their generosity and unfailing support, with thanks as well to Azienda USL 5 Pisa.

Practical Information


From May 13 to October 30, 2011

Vernissage on May 12, 2011, at 6.5 pm


Lucienne Peiry

Exhibition Book

Vincent Capt et Jessica Schupbach, Anne Lovell, Pier Nello Manoni, Lucienne Peiry, Ilario Rossi et Antonio Tabucchi, Nannetti, Gollion/Lausanne, Infolio/Collection de l’Art Brut, 2011.

Film / DVD

I graffiti della mente. N.O.F.4 moro secco spinaceo [Fernando Nannetti], 20 min., de Pier Nello et Erika Manoni, Rome, Blue Films, 2002.


Free Guided Tour





The exhibition Nannetti "colonel astral" is not accessible to people with reduced mobility.