ROME -- Director Michelangelo Antonioni, one of the founders of modern Italian cinema and an Oscar nominee for 1966's "Blowup", died late Monday at his home in Rome. He was 94.
Antonioni's family made the announcement Tuesday, and as the news spread across Italy, public figures lined up to pay their respects to the celebrated director.
Director Marco Bellocchio called Antonioni "a pillar" of Italian cinema, and Rome Mayor and film buff Walter Veltroni said that "with Antonioni dies not only one of the greatest directors but also a master of modernity."
In 1995, Jack Nicholson, who starred in Antonioni's "The Passenger", presented him with an honorary Oscar.
Antonioni was not prolific, producing only two dozen features in a career that spanned more than six decades, but his influence on Italian cinema is enormous, and he was regarded as the main counterbalance to the neorealism of such contemporary Italian directors as Pier Paolo Pasolini and Ermanno Olmi.
Rather than identifying society's flaws by focusing on outcasts and the working class as the neorealists did, Antonioni instead focused on the country's elite, often exposing them as bored and aimless in films known for their spare plots, limited dialogue and long takes.
Antonioni died on the same day as Swedish director Ingmar Bergman, and the two men are said to have been great admirers of each other's work.
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