This essay on Gian Berto Vanni's life and art was the master's thesis that Valentina Puccioni presented for her master's degree in contemporary art at the University of Siena, Italy in May 2002. It was written under the supervision of the chair of the department, Professor Enrico Crispolti, one of the most prominent art historians and critics of Italian modern and contemporary art.
In his presentation of Valentina Puccioni’s thesis Professor Crispolti said:
The whole of Vanni’s work reveals an extremely interesting artistic personality that would be very difficult to constrain in a singular cultural reality, Italian, European, or North American. Now what is interesting, is the type of Vanni's imagery, which is that of a painting that is substantially mental, as an organization of the image, as a genre of the image, but also very sensitive in reality also as the attractiveness of the result. He is a character who does his own thing from the imaginative point of view, he doesn't follow any situation, no shore. Especially in the American years there is an introspection, there is a research, where everything can be metabolized, there are also some cues that could be compared with Max Ernst, with various situations, but all strongly metabolized in a personal sense. In fact, it seems to me that he is an artist of great interest, which should be rediscovered.
This study benefitted from a very special approach since Valentina Puccioni could continuously discuss it with the artist, as she writes in the introduction:
Throughout my research, Vanni was an ever-present interlocutor, willing to talk about the themes I was addressing, in all their intellectual and practical aspects. In this case, direct contact with an artist, which a study of contemporary art almost always makes possible, took on extraordinary resonance. Accessibility to information enabled me to meticulously reconstruct experiences and investigations from Vanni’s past and present. Periods that, for my generation, have a historiography dimension (Vanni was born in 1927 and is nearly forty years my senior), took on an immediacy that normally would characterize a critical exercise. Moreover an extremely dynamic situation developed, where I had the opportunity to work with the artist, to re-examine materials precisely as they were being brought to light. Vanni, in turn, was able to look back on past investigations with the benefit of experience gleaned over time. Distant events and situations thus acquired renewed value, charged with new meaning that even he had overlooked. Thus I found myself in the position of having access to extremely personal experiences that initially might seem marginal, but which proved to be crucial to the artist’s creative choices.