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Collezione Giuseppe Iannaccone

A New Figurative Art 1920-1945 Works from the Giuseppe Iannaccone Collection Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art London 26.09 - 23.12.2018

1920

Art

Paul Cézanne is granted a personal room at the Venice Biennial. 

OTTONE ROSAI
L'attesa, 1920
oil on canvas
h. 29 × 32 cm
L. Cavallo, Schede delle opere, in Catalogue of the exhibition Cinquanta dipinti di Ottone Rosai a 50 anni dalla scomparsa, Palazzo Medici Riccardi, Florence, 27 January–25 March 2008, L. Cavallo (by), Edizioni Pananti, Florence, 2008, pp. 169-70“The result of pensive, incisive expressive power is attained through careful calibration of volume and space, and draws meaning from the gradation of shadows from dark to light, from a dense, dark colour to a diffuse luminosity that seems to embrace and enclose the figures in an organism of rare intensity. Rosai’s language is concentrated, not so much embracing reality as transforming it into real mystery, a condition of presence-absence in which Rosaian man acquires memory of the past and an awestruck sense of the present in an instant. This, in the group of mute figures, is Rosai’s metaphysics, suggested by a timeless atmosphere of drama and certainly not by any formal or theoretical models of De Chirico or Carrà. A condition which, if not philosophical, is existential and palpable in the gloom of the post-war period, where life struggled to resume acceptable rhythms. The ‘tomorrow’ of peace had finally arrived but anguish, anxiety and alarm still weighed heavily. Anything physical that appeared was devoid of fully human attributes. People with their feelings and things remained indefinite in a sort of limbo − also in cultural terms − that we can describe as metaphysical (emphasizing the semantically improper use of the word), as a psychological screen or imperfect approach to reality, almost with the desire to avoid it. In this Rosai seeks to dilute something drawn from antiquity, from myth, timeless inflections as though to eliminate contingency.” 

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History

Treaty of Rapallo, marking the end of D’Annunzio’s occupation of Fiume.

Literature

 Founding in Florence of Rete Mediterranea, a quarterly journal edited by Ardengo Soffici and published by Vallecchi, which folds after just a year.

Literature

 Enzo Ferrieri founds Il Convegno, a journal of art and literature, in Milan. 

Art

Ottone Rosai presents 29 paintings, 16 drawings and 48 notes in Florence at his first solo show.

Literature

 The first issue of the art journal Dedalo, editor Ugo Ojetti.

Art

Filippo De Pisis moves from Ferrara to Rome and holds his first solo show at the Casa d’Arte Bragaglia.

History

 Economic depression and occupation of factories by workers in Turin. Increase in episodes of violence by Fascist squads. 

Art

 Filippo De Pisis, Il signor Luigi B., Milan, 1920 (autobiographical novel).

1921

History

Birth of the National Fascist Party.

Art

 Gino Severini, Du cubisme au classicisme, J. Povolozky & Co, Paris, 1921.

History

Socialist Congress in Livorno and founding of the Italian Communist Party.

History

Victory of the nationalist bloc in the general election. 

Art

 Gabriele D’Annunzio, Notturno, Tip. Treves, Milan, 1921.

Literature

 Roberto Melli joins the editorial staff of the Rome-based industrial magazine Energia.

1922

Art

 Ill and overburdened with debt, Ottone Rosai’s father drowns himself in the Arno and the artist is obliged to take over his carpenter’s shop in Via Maggio, Florence, and reduce his artistic activities for a number of years. 

OTTONE ROSAI
Conversazione, 1922
oil on canvas
h. 43 × 33.5 cm
“It could seem a paradox that the period of 1920-1930, marked by  intemperance,  disruption and  violence, was the very period in which  Rosai  expressed an almost transcendent serenity, a combination  of  things expressed as a confession and as an aspiration, of these very years: ‘The world should be inhabited by those who strive to understand it, by those who endeavor to love it’, far removed from the hate, the divisions and the ongoing struggles of the time , like  a new Franciscan hermitage. a Leopardian detachment, which is far from the turbulent political waves and clamor, deadly and futile. It is the pure and illuminated current, that of an authentic vision which is inviolably intangible.[C.L. Ragghianti, Introduzione, in C. Santini (a cura di), Ottone Rosai. Works from 1911 - 1957, exhibition catalogue (Roma, Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna, 20 July - 18 September 1983), Vallecchi, Firenze 1983, p. 15]

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Art

 Anselmo Bucci, Leonardo Dudreville, Achille Funi, Emilio Malerba, Pietro Marussig, Ubaldo Oppi and Mario Sironi combine to form a group of seven 20th-century painters in Milan and an exhibition bearing its name, Sette pittori del Novecento, as its title is organized by Margherita Sarfatti at the Galleria Pesaro.

Art

 Inauguration in Florence of La Fiorentina Primaverile. Prima esposizione nazionale dell'opera e del lavoro d'arte nel Palazzo del Parco di San Gallo a Firenze.

Art

 Felice Carena and the sculptor Attilio Selva open an art school in Piazza degli Orti Sallustiani, Rome. The pupils include Fausto Pirandello (as from 1922) and Giuseppe Capogrossi (as from 1923).

Art

 Show of work by Ottone Rosai at the Casa d’Arte Bragaglia in Rome and the Saletta Gonnelli in Florence.

History

Intensification of armed clashes in the streets and Fascist attempts to take over “red” towns. The headquarters of the Socialist party newspaper Avanti! devastated and set on fire. 

OTTONE ROSAI
L'intagliatore, 1922
oil on cardboard
h. 62.3 × 46.5 cm
“The fashioning of the eye socket, the way the face is built up of echoes and stressed contrasts of plastic and graphic elements, and basically all the adaptation of the figuration with a precise reduction of style to customary modules (suffice it to observe the corner of the garment in front as it moves from the barely creased wrinkle of the face to continue in a soft roundness that the hands docilely take up): all this recalls the characteristics of the group of works of 1922 too closely … not to provide us with new grounds for dating this masterpiece a few years earlier. Nor should too much importance be attached to the summary execution of the garment, as it is not unreasonable to suggest that the painting was not entirely finished.”[Pier Carlo Santini (ed.), Mostra dell’opera di Ottone Rosai 1911-1957, exh. cat. (Florence, Palazzo Strozzi, May–June 1960)]

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History

 Founding in Milan of the newspaper L’Ambrosiano.

Literature

 Carlo Levi begins to write for the journal La rivoluzione Liberale, editor Piero Gobetti.

History

March on Rome organized by Mussolini to take power by force. Victor Emanuel III asks Mussolini to form a new government.

1923

History

 Mussolini delivers the speech inaugurating the Novecento group exhibition at the Galleria Pesaro.

Art

 Carlo Levi makes his debut at the Turin Quadrennial in a room organized by Felice Casorati, a key figure in his development first encountered during the year. Another participant is Gigi Chessa, now resident in Rome.

Art

 Filippo De Pisis, La città delle 100 meraviglie, Casa d’Arte Bragaglia, Rome, 1923 (with a watercolour by the author on the cover).

1924

History

 Members of the opposition led by Giovanni Amendola abandon parliament and withdraw to the Aventine. 

FAUSTO PIRANDELLO
Composizione (Siesta Rustica), 1924-1926
oil on canvas
h. 100 × 126 cm
"The paintings, entitled Composizione, are focused above all on the female nude, using slightly heavy materials, with illustrating strong perspective angles that create linear tension on the canvas, as if the bodies are forced into the image by their size, provoking a strongly expressive disharmony. This composition is a precise feature of Pirandello's work, which can be found throughout his artistic career. Although such structural style has classical roots (from Magenta to Polo Uccello) Pirandello's interpretation was, however, different.It is said that he has an anti-classical nature which explains the use of foreshortening, the element of expressionistic tension underlining the anguish of the modern world, rather than the utterly unreal idyll of peace and suspended serenity, typical of a great number of artists close to  "Plastic values" and magic realism".[C. Gian Ferrari, Fausto Pirandello: l’inquietudine della forma, in C. Gian Ferrari, Fausto Pirandello, catalogo della mostra (Palazzo Reale, Milan, 23 June - 1 October 1995), p. 12]

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Art

 Ottone Rosai joins the movement L’Italia Liberista but is expelled for dissidence.

Art

 Gigi Chessa takes part in the Esposizione di venti artisti italiani at the Galleria Pesaro in Milan.

Art

 Mario Mafai and Scipione begin to attend classes in drawing together in Rome at the Scuola libera del nudo, where Mafai and Antonietta Raphaël meet the following year.

History

Victory of the national list in a general election marked by violence. The Socialist politician Giacomo Matteotti is murdered after accusing the Fascists in parliament of rigging the election and calling for the results to be declared null and void. 

Art

 A room at the XIV Venice Biennial is devoted to six painters of the Novecento group, while the seventh, Oppi, is given a personal room. The Sei di Torino (Six Painters of Turin) also take part with Jessie Boswell, one of the Six,  showing work in the Italian section as a foreign artist. 

Art

 Solo show of work by Filippo De Pisis organized in November by the magazine La Fiamma in the foyer of the Teatro Nazionale in Rome. 

1925

History

 The restrictive enforcement of decrees introduced during the previous two years puts an end to the freedom of the press and the freedom of assembly and association. 

History

 Publication in the major periodicals of the Manifesto degli intellettuali Fascisti, drawn up by by Giovanni Gentile, in response to which, Antonio Gramsci writes the Manifesto degli intellettuali Antifascisti, which is published in Il Mondo.

Literature

 Ottone Rosai meets Mino Maccari and begins to contribute to the journal Il Selvaggio (1926–29).

Literature

 Publication in Milan of the first issue of the weekly magazine La Fiera Letteraria, which then moves its headquarters to Rome in 1928 under the direction of Giovanni Battista Angioletti and Curzio Malaparte, and becomes L’Italia Letteraria in 1929. Its contributors include Mario Mafai and Scipione, who produces the first cover of the renamed periodical in 1929 (the drawing of which, entitled Flagellazione / The Flagellation, now belongs to the Iannaccone Collection).

Art

 Gigi Chessa designs the costumes and scenery for a production of Rossini’s opera L’Italiana in Algeri at the Teatro di Torino (Turin).

Art

 Filippo De Pisis moves to Paris, where he remains until 1939. He teaches at the Sorbonne and holds a solo show at the Carmine gallery.

Art

 Mario Mafai and Scipione show two small paintings at the third Rome Biennial in a room set up by Cipriano Efisio Oppo for works rejected by the official jury. 

1926

Art

 Benito Mussolini inaugurates the exhibition Novecento Italiano at the Palazzo della Permanente in Milan. Filippo de Pisis and Francesco Menzio agree to take part but Gigi Chessa declines the invitation.

Literature

 Publication of Lionello Venturi’s book Il gusto dei Primitivi, born out of a series of lectures delivered in Turin and Milan, with a drawing by Nicola Galante as its frontispiece. Venturi is in contact during this period with Carlo Levi, whose work is still bound up with the Novecento group and its support for the return to order.

Art

 Filippo De Pisis and Francesco Menzio are among the artists featured in the Italian room at the XV Venice Biennial.

History

 Mussolini introduces the death penalty.

Literature

 Birth in Rome of 900. Cahiers d’Italie et d’Europe, a quarterly journal of literature published in French, edited by Massimo Bontempelli with Ottone Rosai among the contributors.

Literature

 Publication of the first issue of the magazine L’Arte Fascista in Palermo. 

Art

 Lionello Venturi, Il gusto dei primitivi, Zanichelli, Bologna, 1926.

1927

Art

 Official debut of Mario Mafai in the show Mostra di studi e bozzetti organized by the Associazione Artistica Nazionale di via Margutta in Rome.

Art

 Umberto Lilloni and Virgilio Ghiringhelli are joint winners of the Principe Umberto Prize at the Brera Biennial.

Art

 Antonietta Raphaël and Mario Mafai move into an apartment on Via Cavour in Rome. Their first child, Miriam, is born the same year. 

Art

 Scipione holds a show at the Casa d’Arte Anton Giulio Bragaglia.

Art

 Roberto Longhi, Piero della Francesca, Valori Plastici, Rome, 1927.

Art

 Gigi Chessa, Felice Casorati, Nicola Galante, Carlo Levi, Francesco Menzio, Enrico Paulucci, Emilio Sobrero and Giacomo Debenedetti sign a letter of protest against the purchase of Giacomo Gandi’s painting La preghiera (The Prayer) by the Museo Civico d’Arte in Turin.

Literature

 By invitation of Mino Maccari, Nicola Galante begins to contribute to Il Selvaggio, where Ottone Rosai also works.

Art

 Renato Birolli moves from Verona to Milan, where he joins the editorial staff of L’Ambrosiano and comes into contact with the artistic and intellectual scene, whose leading figures include Carlo Carrà, Edoardo Persico, Giacomo Manzù and Aligi Sassu.

Art

 Edoardo Persico, founder of the Milanese gallery Il Milione, moves to Turin, where he remains until 1929. 

1928

Art

 Fausto Pirandello moves to Paris, where he comes into contact with the painting of Chaïm Soutine, André Derain and the Italiens de Paris (1928–33), a group including Giorgio De Chirico, Gino Severini, Massimo Campigli, Alberto Giacometti and Alberto Savinio.

MARIO MAFAI
Strada con casa rossa, 1928
oil on canvas
h. 38 × 38.5 cm
“The only centre of the work is on the axis of the tower, in the extreme, ‘real’ depth of the road sloping down to draw upwards the light, which turns the plants, walls and cobbles red and prepares to scorch the sky and fill the opening.”[Giuseppe Appella, ‘Mafai, Giotto, e la piacevole fatica della pittura’, in Mario Mafai 1902-1965. Una calma febbre di colori, ed. Giuseppe Appella, Fabrizio D’Amico, Claudia Terenzi, Netta Vespignani, exh. cat. (Rome, Palazzo Venezia, 6 December 2004 – 27 February 2005), Skira, Milan, 2004, p. 22]

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Art

 Henri Matisse is granted a personal room at the XVI Venice Biennial. Gigi Chessa, Ottone Rosai and Umberto Lilloni are among those taking part. Chessa is responsible for the installation design of the exhibition Mostra dell'Arte del Teatro, presented in the catalogue by Margherita Sarfatti. 

Art

 Georges Waldemar, Filippo De Pisis, éd. Chroniques du jour, Paris, 1928. 

Art

 Mario Mafai takes part in the XCIV Esposizione di Belle Arti della Società amatori e cultori.

Art

 Roger Vailland, ‘Le fils de Pirandello est peintre à Montparnasse’, Paris-Midi, 8 October 1928.

Art

 Paolo Menzio takes part in the Salon de l’Escalier in Paris.

ANTONIETTA RAPHAëL
Natura morta con chitarra, 1928
oil on wood
h. 39 × 45 cm
“The still life of 1928 encapsulates all the elements of Raphaël’s poetic world in a condensed image: music, her first great passion and one she cultivated also after her arrival in Rome … the East, in the coloured drapes and carpets, even in the crescent moon peeping through the window, and the mirror, because the small picture hanging on the wall is nothing other than one of the portraits of Mafai painting.”[Valerio Rivosecchi, ‘Catalogo - I tempi, i temi, le opere’, in Scuola romana. Artisti tra le due guerre, ed. Valerio Rivosecchi, Maurizio Fagiolo dell’Arco, exh. cat. (Milan, Palazzo Reale, 13 April – 19 June 1988), Mazzotta, Milan, 1988, p. 82]

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Art

 A stay in Paris (1928–29) plays a part, together with Venturi’s theories, in Carlo Levi’s move away from the Novecento group.

Art

 Gigi Chessa is appointed to teach scenography at the Scuola Superiore di Architettura in Turin.

Art

 Aligi Sassu meets Filippo Tommaso Marinetti and draws closer to the Futurist movement without fully embracing its theoretical principles. He takes part in the Venice Biennial the same year at the age of just 16 and is co-author with Bruno Munari of the manifesto Dinamismo e riforma muscolare. 

1929

Literature

 Birth in Florence of the magazine Frontespizio with Ottone Rosai among the contributors and Piero Bargellini subsequently appointed as editor.

NICOLA GALANTE
Paese per la casetta (Vasto), 1929
oil on canvas
h. 50 × 60 cm
“Galante joined the Six Painters of Turin because that was what Venturi wanted. In the finely calibrated initial balance of the Six (it appeared at first that Giulio Da Milano was also going to join and then Spazzapan), he constituted not only a figure already making a name for himself, like the other five, but also a link with the Italian painting of the Macchiaioli and Strapaesani groups, to which he accorded priority in that period. Chessa, Levi, Menzio and Paulucci were instead links with French painting and Boswell with English neo-Impressionism … Soffici saw similarities between his cool, archaic painting with its deft interweaving of chromatic timbres and the ‘simplicity or sincerity of Rosai’. Persico spoke of it as ‘an example of coherence … with a deep ethical inspiration’ and Carl Carrà described him as ‘one of the first Italian painters to embrace and understand the teaching of Cézanne’ in L'Ambrosiano in 1937.”[Mirella Bandini, foreword to I Sei Pittori di Turin 1929-1931, ed. M. Bandini, exh. cat. (Aosta, Museo Archeologico Regionale, 24 April 1999 – 4 July 1999), Musumeci Editore, Saint-Christophe, 1999, p. 13]

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Art

 Solo show of work by Fausto Pirandello − including La lettera (The Letter), now in the Iannaccone Collection − at the Galerie Vildrac in Paris. Giorgio De Chirico, Alberto Savinio, Fausto Pirandello and Carlo Carrà take part in Art Italien Moderne, organized by Mario Tozzi, at the Galerie Bonaparte.

Art

 Mario Mafai, Antonietta Raphaël and Scipione take part in the Prima Mostra del Sindacato laziale fascista at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Rome. Roberto Longhi coins the name “School of Via Cavour” in the second of two articles on the exhibition in L’Italia Letteraria.

Art

 Gigi Chessa, Carlo Levi and Francesco Menzio take part in the Prima Esposizione sindacale fascista in Turin.

MARIO MAFAI
Tramonto sul Lungotevere, 1929
oil on plywood
h. 41.3 × 50.8 cm
“Colour has the naturalness of a happy blossoming in Mafai’s work, like something belonging to it from birth, suggested by the atmosphere and the place. And just as James Ensor’s painting seems to draw intimate sustenance from the pearly, dawn-like light of Ostend and the grotesque masquerades that throng its beaches, so Mario Mafai’s appears to feed spontaneously on the gilded, vermilion dust of Rome, the ancient, decadent air that drifts around the venerable palaces and theatrical piazzas, wafting the ashes of bygone carnivals past the massive walls of the Tiber all the way to the pink buildings of the new districts. His first landscapes of 1929 present the apparition of a searing, congested city where every house is like a burning face, every façade a blazing mask. The colours pounce on one another in a leap that is never purely tonal and stereoscopic but in some way spectral and sudden, almost like an image imprinted on the retina by a flame that the eye then goes on seeing wherever it looks.”[Toti Scialoja, ‘Mafai’, Il Selvaggio, anno XVIII, no. 1-2-3, 15 March 1942, pp. 184–85]

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Art

 Renato Guttuso frequents the local artists of Bagheria, friends of his father, and begins to paint landscapes, He shows work for the first time in the II Mostra del Sindacato siciliano.

Art

 Alberto Moravia, Gli indifferenti, Alpes, Milan, 1929.

Art

 Ottone Rosai and Filippo De Pisis take part in the second Novecento Italiano exhibition at the Palazzo della Permanente in Milan.

FRANCESCO MENZIO
Lo scialle verde, 1929
oil on canvas
h. 53 × 45 cm
“When the period of the Six Painters of Turin arrived − a primarily moral period in the sense of aesthetic morality − the welding of details was fully accomplished in Menzio. His horizon was defined, as was the way of imparting poetic rhythm to the meeting between autobiographic pressure, with all its passions, provocations and inclinations, and the poetic counterpart: an acknowledgment of indivisibility, a measure of the necessity of one in the other, thus allowing the physical sense of the objects, faces and nudes to agglutinate and mature in the shadow shell of its own rhythm, flow and development.”[Paolo Fossati, cit. in Francesco Menzio, exh. cat. (Turin, Galleria Narciso, 16 January – 2 February 1966), Galleria Narciso, Turin, 1966]

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Art

 Edoardo Persico and Bruno Cassinari move to Milan.

Art

 Umberto Lilloni holds his first solo show at the Galleria Bardi in Milan.

Art

 Mario Mafai and Scipione take part in the show Giovani pittori romani at the Circolo di Roma in Palazzo Doria. 

FAUSTO PIRANDELLO
La lettera, 1929
oil on cardboard
h. 70 × 53 cm
“In his first solo show in Paris, at the Galerie Vildrac on Rue de Seine, 9−23 March 1929 … among a large number of peintures et dessins of which we have unfortunately no complete list, Fausto Pirandello presented an important group of still lifes. This attests to the great and indeed possibly predominant extent to which the genre had occupied his thoughts during the year spent thus far in the French capital, not least perhaps because the large-scale figure painting on which he had largely concentrated from the outset was hardly practicable in the logistically precarious conditions in which he was living. The result was a formidable series of small works whose markedly innovative character in terms of artistic vocabulary − a marked departure both from the icy perfection of Braque and a fortiori from the models he had left behind him in Italy − was clearly not understood in the skimpy reviews of the time. They were described as ‘amusements’ and indeed as a ‘trompe-l’ oeil à rebours. Chacun sa verité’ (a misplaced reference to the plays of Luigi Pirandello, already well established in France but having nothing whatsoever to do with those still lifes). The reviewers then did not notice that Pirandello had leapt beyond the current academic gospel of Cubism and returned to the irreconcilable malaise of Cézanne, torn between the obligation to the surface and the dogged resistance of the object − its body and volume − within the painting. Barely altered colour, always gathered closely around a dominant, is encamped in the bleak and rugged body of matter, often an ochre, inflamed or dull, or a grey, soon veering towards a burnt red or an impure white where the traces of lime still linger. A pale blue in the centre or margin of the composition is the only brief note of dissonance often inserted into the tonal concert of colour. The space occupied by a handful of objects is reduced to a narrow chasm and, nearly always seen from above, devoid of an ideal horizon to endow the image with stability and normality. It thus looms over the foreground to take concrete shape there in a sort of anxious, anguished disarray.”Fabrizio D’Amico, ‘Pittura di Fausto Pirandello’, in Fausto Pirandello. Catalogo generale, ed. Claudia Gian Ferrari, Electa, Milan, 2009, p. 10

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History

 Signing of the Lateran Pacts and reconciliation between the Italian state and the Catholic Church after the long conflict that began with the struggle for national unification and independence. 

Art

 Inauguration of the Accademia d’Italia with Enrico Fermi, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti and Guglielmo Marconi among its members. 

Art

 First show of the Sei di Torino (Six Painters of Turin: Jessie Boswell, Gigi Chessa, Nicola Galante, Corrado Levi, Francesco Menzio and Enrico Paulucci) at the Casa d’Arte Guglielmi with a poster by Menzio based on Manet’s Olympia.

ANTONIETTA RAPHAëL
Veduta della terrazza di via Cavour, 1929
oil on wood
h. 21 × 27.4 cm
“I used to get up early in the morning, at five, to go and paint by the Colosseum, the Arch of Septimius Severus, the Palatine, and I often found Scipione painting too by the first light of dawn … Scipione and Mafai had always lived in Rome or the provinces and were fascinated by my stories and artistic experiences, as I had been to Paris before coming to Rome and therefore seen what French painters were doing in that period. What I said served as stimuli for Scipione and Mafai.”[Antonietta Raphaël, 1971, cit. in Fabrizio D’Amico, Antonietta Raphaël. Estasi e dramma, in Antonietta Raphaël. Sculture in villa, exh. cat. (Rome, Musei di Villa Torlonia - Casino dei Principi, 29 March – 15 July 2007), Palombi & Partner, Rome, 2007. p. 13]

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Art

 Aligi Sassu begins the Uomini rossi (Red Men) series (1929–33), comprising some 500 depictions of gamblers playing dice, musicians, the Argonauts, riders and Castor and Pollux. 

Art

 Carlo Levi starts to produce work of a more markedly expressive character with Modigliani and the Matisse of the 1920s as his models. 

Art

 Show of work by the Sei di Torino at Pier Maria Bardi’s gallery on Via Brera, which acts as a showcase until 1934 for the new generations seeking to revolutionize painting, including the Roman School (Cagli, Capogrossi, Cavalli) the Chiaristi, the Quattro di Palermo and the abstract painters of Milan. 

SCIPIONE
Natura morta con piuma, 1929
oil on wood
h. 45.5 × 50.7 cm
“Because if Giuseppe Marchiori is right to say that Scipione, being ‘forced to look inside himself, concentrated all his intellectual faculties with almost maniacal attention on psychological analysis, which sometimes slackened in despair or anger’, then the limit of the fantastic reality that he sought to translate into painting can be found precisely in this intellectual and literary premise. In actual fact, nearly all his paintings possess an illustrative quality, granting an albeit sparing and subdued prominence to symbolic objects and allusive gestures, which impair the elevation that the work initially appeared to possess.”[Umbro Apollonio, introduction to Scipione, exh. cat. (Galleria del Cavallino, Venice, March 1945), Edizioni del Cavallino, Venice, 1945]

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Art

 Group show of work by Roman artists including Mario Mafai, Antonietta Raphaël and Scipione at the Casa d’Arte Anton Giulio Bragaglia. Raphaël also takes part in Otto pittrici e scultrici romane at the Camerata degli Artisti and receives praise from the critics

Art

 C. Pav. (C. Pavolini), ‘Mostre romane. Antonietta Raphaël’, Il Tevere, anno VI, no. 142, 14 June 1929.

SCIPIONE
Villa Corsini, 1929
oil on wood
h. 36.5 × 29.5 cm
“It has often and rightly been said that Scipione’s world is essentially an idea and a vision of Rome. It should be noted, however, that this is in any case a Rome that − as in the verses of Giuseppe Gioacchino Belli − takes on fantastic and hyperbolic dimensions of ‘always solemn remembrance’ even when prompted by the observation of a single fragment or hint of truth. The poet Leonardo Sinisgalli once recalled, nor is there any reason not to believe him, how during those nights up on the Capitol, ‘we would recite aloud the verses of Gongora newly translated by our friend De Blasi, the hymns of Ungaretti or the Chants de Maldoror, but not one line of Gioachino Belli ever came to mind’.”[Antonello Trombadori, ‘La pittura di Scipione’, in Scipione, 1904-1933, ed. Giuseppe Appella et al., exh. cat. (Palazzo Ricci, Macerata, 6 July – 15 September 1985), De Luca Editore, Rome, 1985, p. 24]

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1930

Art

 Renato Birolli, Gigi Chessa, Carlo Levi and Francesco Menzio take part in the XVII Venice Biennial. 

ALIGI SASSU
Concerto, 1930
oil on canvas
h. 65 × 57 cm
“The Concerto … is an example of primitivism, as can be seen from the summary construction of space and the rapid outline of figures and things. The colour and warmth of the setting, the nakedness of the musicians, the performance of the concert amid the shabby tables of a café and the fact that the two violinists are improvising before an empty stand because the score is being blown away in the background all suggest that music is not an Apollonian art, a sign of universal order, but an untidy moment of life, both serene and melancholy.”[Elena Pontiggia, ‘Anticipatori e compagni di strada’, in Il Chiarismo. Omaggio a De Rocchi. Luce e colore a Milan negli anni Trenta, ed. E. Pontiggia, exh. cat. (Milan, Palazzo Reale, 16 June – 5 September 2010), Skira, Milan, 2010, p. 117]

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Art

 Second show of the Six Painters of Turin. Jessie Boswell leaves the group.

Art

 Ottone Rosai, Via Toscanella, Vallecchi, Florence, 1930.

Art

 Prima mostra di pittori italiani residenti a Parigi. Campigli, de Chirico, De Pisis, Paresce, Savinio, Tozzi at the Galleria Milano.

Art

 By invitation of Edoardo Persico, Umberto Lilloni takes part in a group show at the Galleria Il Milione, where Ottone Rosai holds a solo show the same year. 

SCIPIONE
Autoritratto, 1930
oil on wood
h. 54 × 37 cm
Scipione's "L'autoritratto" recently appeared at the Zodiaco Gallery, where it was exhibited among the works of some well-known Roman artists and until then had remained unpublished. Having been painted on the reverse side (from which it has since been removed) of his recognized piece "Principe Cattolica", considered the superior of the two works by the artist himself, "L'Autoritratto" was, in other words disregarded by the painter. This is a painting full of emphasis, in which the features of the physiognomy are precise and deformed, the volume increases and the colour and intensifies in the shade. Here, we have a yearning and baroque Scipione, in costume reminiscent of a Goya soldier, and which was alluded to him by the traces of an underlying painting which remained visible until the last moment.[V. Guzzi, Corriere delle arti, in “Primato”, 15 May 1943

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Art

 Show of work by Scipione and Mario Mafai organized at the Galleria di Roma by Pier Maria Bardi and Cipriano Efisio Oppo.

Art

 Mario Mafai, ‘Arte nuova a Parigi: “I Surin-dépendants”’, L’Italia Letteraria, 3 August 1930.

Art

 Scipione takes part in the Prima Mostra Nazionale dell’Animale nell’Arte at the zoological gardens in Rome.

Art

 Mario Mafai, ‘Pittura parigina’, L’Italia Letteraria, 19 October 1930.

SCIPIONE
Il Cardinale Vannutelli sul letto di morte, 1930
ink on paper
h. 21 × 32 cm
“Through deeply rooted and authentic Catholic faith, as deeply rooted and authentic as the sensual life he lived of lechery and sin, almost an incarnation of the beast that fed the black humour of flagellant monks, Scipione restored to art a moral imperative too long forgotten behind the screens of theoretical, philosophical and formal speculations … In the very face of the cardinal, scrutinized in numerous studies, Scipione captures and emphasizes the physiognomy of the role in the suspicious eyes beneath half-open lids, the bitter fall of the cheeks beside pronounced and still sensual lips, reproducing and emphasizing authoritative and ‘heraldic’ wrinkles like those of ancient Chinese parchment with deep incisions and scratches.”[Paolo Baldacci, ‘Scipione spartiacque tra due mondi’, in Scipione, 1904-1933, ed. Netta Vespignani, Claudia Terenzi, exh. cat. (Rome, Musei di Villa Torlonia-Casino dei Principi, 7 September – 6 January 2007), Palombi & Partner, Rome, 2007, p. 19]

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Art

 Filippo de Pisis and Fausto Pirandello are among the artists taking part in the Ausstellung Moderner Italiener in Basel. 

Literature

 The magazine Belvedere, widely read by the Milanese artists, publishes two works by Scipione: Il risveglio della bionda sirena (The Awakening of the Blonde Mermaid)

Art

 Antonietta Raphaël and Mario Mafai move to Paris, where she takes up sculpture

Art

 One of the last exhibitions of the Novecento Italiano group, including work by Gigi Chessa and Filippo de Pisis, is held in Buenos Aires.

SCIPIONE
Profeta in vista di Gerusalemme, 1930
oil on wood
h. 42.3 × 46.5 cm
“The Book of Revelation is not exclusively fraught with death and destruction. In it Scipione sees ‘a message of comfort and love that precedes and accompanies the history of humanity’. His attention is concentrated on the prophetic character of the book, on the foreseeing and foretelling of the future. He seeks manifestations of the divine will, signs that he interprets for himself in the hope of deriving counsel and warnings. Everything becomes prophecy: visions, symbolic events, allegories, parables and riddles; the four horsemen, the seventh seal, the one hundred and forty-four thousand marked with the seal, the woman clothed with the sun, the great whore, the dragon, the new Jerusalem. Everything regards the future, investigates the mystery and interprets the divine will to punish or save, to free from oppression after purification through testing. The test is drawing, which Scipione practices in order to encourage himself, to illuminate and explain the symbols as a proclamation of faith and testimony. As Jesus says in the fourth Gospel: Examine the Scriptures, since you think that in them you have eternal life. They also testify about me.”[Giuseppe Appella, Scipione. 306 disegni, Edizioni della Cometa, Rome, 1984, p. XI]

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Art

 Formation of a group of young artists around Edoardo Persico in Milan comprising Renato Birolli, Aligi Sassu, Giacomo Manzù, Luigi Broggini, Fiorenzo Tomea, Lucio Fontana and Domenico Cantatore.

1931

History

Start of the draining and reclamation of the Pontine Marshes.

RENATO BIROLLI
L'Arlecchino, 1931
oil on canvas
h. 84 × 56 cm
“The beginnings of Birolli’s work proceed from opposite directions. Non-homogenous elements must be taken into account if we are to view his first fully defined works of the early 1930s − such as Arlecchino (1931). La sposa (1932), Giocatori di polo (1933) and Eva (1933) −in the right perspective. There is the liberating influence of Persico − already in Milan in 1929 after two years in the Turin of Casorati, the Six and Gobetti − and his close attention to the young artists of Via Solferino and the Mokador café; the confident faith in colour and his inner resources; and the indirect influence of the painters later called Chiaristi by Piovene, Del Bon above all, engaged in mediating an encounter between the Lombard tradition of Gola and Ranzoni and French Impressionism. These early works by Birolli bear witness, however, to other fundamental choices: the pursuit of a ‘Venetian’ tension of colour even in its most fragile pulsations … the emphasis on an anti-heroic world of everyday fairytale through the vibrations of an imagination halted in the distance as in a fresco, in a movement as fully declared as on a Bembo tarot card.”[Vittorio Fagone, ‘L’opera e il tempo di Renato Birolli’, in Renato Birolli, ed. Giulio Carlo Argan et al., exh. cat. (Parma, Università degli Studi di Parma, 1976), Quaderni/Centro Studi e Archivio della Comunicazione, Parma, 1976, p. 17]

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Art

 Antonio Banfi becomes and lecturer on philosophy at Milan University and develops an aesthetic of art as expression of the feeling and dramas of existence that is later to influence the artists of the Corrente group.

Art

 Lionello Venturi loses his chair in art history at Turin University through his refusal to swear an oath of loyalty to the Fascist regime and goes into political exile in Paris.

Art

 Solo show of work by Francesco De Rocchi at the Galleria del Milione. 

Art

 The Six Painters of Turin break up.

Art

 Jessie Boswell holds a solo show at the Sala d’arte Guglielmi in Turin. 

Art

 Scipione produces the cover for a new edition of Eugenio Montale’s Ossi di Seppia (1st ed. 1925) published by Giuseppe Carabba.

Art

 Giuseppe Migneco moves to Milan and enrols in the faculty of medicine. Through contact with Beniamino Joppolo (a former schoolmate) and his new friends Aligi Sassu, Renato Birolli and Raffaele De Grada, he decides to stop studying and devote his energies to painting. 

Art

 Touring exhibition of the Novecento Italiano group in Stockholm, Helsinki and Oslo (the following year), curator Margherita Sarfatti. The participants include Mario Mafai.

Art

 Scipione and Francesco Menzio take part in the Exhibition of Contemporary Italian Paintings at the Baltimore Museum of Art.

Art

 Sandro Volta, Ottone Rosai, Hoepli, Milan, 1931.

ANTONIETTA RAPHAëL
Yom Kippur in the Sinagogue, 1931
oil on canvas
h. 48 × 64 cm
“The Jewish roots are asserted more as an complex question of identity than a matter of faith. In the days of exile in Genoa, Friday evening, the beginning of Shabbat, is transformed into a literary soirée with Antonietta seated at the piano and the daughters presenting their writings. It is, however, interesting to note that among the Jewish artists active in Italy in that period, she expressed more than others a ‘decided pride in difference’ (E. Braun, 1989) that runs like an underground stream through all her work, dramatic in the sculpture and dream-like in paintings like Mia madre benedice le candele (1932), La lamentazione di Giobbe (1967) and Yom Kippur nella Sinagoga. Antonietta described the development of the latter in a letter to Mafai, expressing her intention to paint a difficult interior teeming with all the different heads. In order to convey the mystical atmosphere of the place, she presents figures that seem to float in mid-air, as though drawn from a childhood memory or a hazy oneiric image. Raphaël’s difference manifests itself also in the pictorial construction of a distorted, unnatural space, the result of cultural indifference to the very concept of a realistic spatial dimension.”[Serena De Dominicis, ‘Antonietta Raphaël. L’identità, il femminile, la maternità’, in Artiste del Novecento tra visione e identità ebraica, ed. Marina Bakos, Olga Melasecchi and Federica Pirani, exh. cat. (Rome, Galleria d’Arte Moderna di Rome Capitale, 12 June – 5 October 2014), Trart, Venice-Trieste, 2014, p. 41]

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Art

 Renato Guttuso, Scipione, Mario Mafai, Alberto Ziveri, Filippo de Pisis, Carlo Levi and Francesco Menzio take part in the first Rome Quadrennial.

Art

 Filippo De Pisis, ‘La pagina dell'artista, confessioni’, L’Arte, May 1931.

Literature

 First issue in Rome of Fronte, a magazine of art and literature with Marino Mazzacurati as editor and Giuseppe Ungaretti, Alberto Savinio, Scipione, Mario Mafai, Carlo Carrà, Arturo Martini and Alberto Moravia among the contributors. 

Art

 Fausto Pirandello’s first solo show is held at Pier Maria Bardi’s Galleria di Roma. 

Art

|it! S. Solmi, Filippo de Pisis, Hoepli, Milano 1931.  |en| Sergio Solmi, Filippo De Pisis, Hoepli, Milan, 1931.

Art

 Carlo Levi joins the anti-fascist Giustizia e Libertà movement led by Carlo Rosselli from his exile in Paris. His political activities lead to arrests in 1934 and 1935.

Art

 Edoardo Persico, ‘Filippo De Pisis’, La Casa Bella, April 1931.

Art

 Luigi Broggini wins the prize for sculpture in a competition held by the Milan City Council for students of the Accademia di Belle Arti - Fondazione artistica Antonio Tantardini.

1932

Art

 Cesare Brandi, ‘Il pittore Filippo De Pisis’, Dedalo, May 1932.

RENATO BIROLLI
Tassì rosso, 1932
oil on canvas
h. 58 × 60 cm
“Between 1931 and 1932, with the suburbia and red taxi series, Birolli created one of the manifestos of the Milanese neo-romanticism of the 1930s. … Here too, as in Taxi rosso sulla neve (Red Taxi in the Snow), the artist paints a garden-like city where the pavement is tinged with pink, the street is paved with white gold, the lampposts becomes as blue as Murano glassware, the houses have the colour of stars and the taxi with the open door is about to set off for the heavens of the imagination.”[Elena Pontiggia, ‘Anticipatori e compagni di strada’, in Il Chiarismo. Omaggio a De Rocchi. Luce e colore a Milan negli anni Trenta, ed. E. Pontiggia, exh. cat. (Milan, Palazzo Reale (Milan, Palazzo Reale, 16 June – 5 September 2010), Skira, Milan, 2010, p. 112]

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Art

 Ten young artists from Rome (including Cagli and Pirandello) and Lombardy (like Birolli and Sassu) are featured in Dieci pittori at the Galleria di Roma. The owner Pier Maria Bardi, who moved from Milan to Rome in 1930, plays an important role as a link between the two art scenes.

Art

 Scipione and Filippo de Pisis take part in 22 Artistes Italiens Modernes at the Galerie Georges Bernheim in Paris.

Art

 New and prolonged stay of Carlo Levi in Paris, during which he comes into contact with the Montparnasse group of Jewish artists. His painting attains full maturity in the expressionistic style that will characterize all the rest of his career.

Art

 The Galleria Il Milione holds a show of work by six Sicilian painters (6 pittori siciliani) including Renato Guttuso, who is soon closely involved with the Roman School.

Art

 Ottone Rosai shows over a hundred drawings and paintings at the Galleria di Palazzo Ferroni in Florence.

LUIGI BROGGINI
Testa di ragazzo, 1932-1935
bronze
h. 28 × 17 × 20 cm
“The Ritratto di ragazzo … combines archaic, Egyptian solemnity with contemporary primitivism. The motionless face, in which echoes of republican Roman statuary and the Louvre Scribe can be perceived, is humanized in the primitive detail of the big ears. All the poetry of the work lies in this mixture of the instant and eternity, adolescent freshness and age-old antiquity.”[Elena Pontiggia, ‘Anticipatori e compagni di strada’, in Il Chiarismo. Omaggio a De Rocchi. Luce e colore a Milan negli anni Trenta, ed. E. Pontiggia, exh. cat. (Milan, Palazzo Reale, 16 June – 5 September 2010), Skira, Milan, 2010, p. 122]

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Art

 Mario Mafai returns definitively to Rome while Raphaël is in London. Mafai shows work in the XVIII Venice Biennial. 

Art

 The Mostra della Rivoluzione Fascista is held at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Rome to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the March on Rome. 

Art

 Luigi Broggini makes a trip to Rome and comes into contact with the School of Via Cavour. He and Roberto Melli take part in the III Mostra d'arte del Sindacato regionale fascista Belle Arti di Lombardia (Biennale di Brera) at the Palazzo della Permanente in Milan.

1933

Art

 Scipione dies at the age of 29 in the San Pancrazio sanatorium at Arco Trento.

RENATO BIROLLI
La città degli studi, 1933
oil on canvas
h. 67.5 × 84.5 cm
“We perceive … in the pleasure of his pictorial creation, an inclination that I would describe as determined by deep melancholy without resignation, the melancholy of one who observes and contemplates the pitiless fate of mankind. The urban landscapes painted in the years up to 1936, the deserted suburbia that only the light of a faraway Eldorado, streaming down from open skies, was able to redeem in visionary delirium, were the themes of his intuition of malaise beneath the hush of an apparition that would still appear metaphysical in the pictorial sense.”[Marco Valsecchi, presentation of room V, in XXX Biennale Internazionale d’Arte di Venezia, cat., Stamperia di Venezia, Venice, 1960, p. 35]

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Literature

 Publication of the first issues of Quadrante, mensile di arte, lettere e vita, edited by Massimo Bontempelli and Pier Maria Bardi, and of Quadrivio, Grande settimanale letterario illustrato di Roma.

Art

 Alberto Ziveri holds his first solo show at the Galleria Sabatello in Rome.

Art

 Filippo de Pisis makes his first trip to London, followed by others in 1935 and 1938.

Art

 Solo show of Ottone Rosai at the Galleria delle Tre Arti in Milan, organized by Edoardo Persico with an inaugural presentation by Alberto Savinio and a closing address by Persico. Rosai moves to a new studio at number 49 Via San Leonardo in Florence.

Art

 Fausto Pirandello holds a solo show at the Galleria Milano in Milan.

Art

 Luigi Broggini, Renato Birolli and Aligi Sassu take part in the IV Mostra d'arte del Sindacato regionale fascista delle Belle Arti di Lombardia at the Palazzo della Permanente in Milan. Edoardo Persico organizes a show of work by Broggini at the Galleria delle Tre Arti in Milan.

MARIO MAFAI
Autoritratto, 1933 ca
oil on canvas
h. 56.5 × 44 cm
“PORTRAIT ‘This little man with short, tousled hair (two deep and unforgettable little eyes, laughter that prompts pity and bursts out every now and then, at the wrong moment, and the slouching gait of a tramp).’ From an article by Renato Guttuso (L'Ora, Palermo, 11 February 1933).”[Maurizio Fagiolo Dell’Arco, foreword to I Mafai. Vite parallele, ed. M. Fagiolo Dell’Arco, exh. cat. (Rome, Galleria Vetta Nespignani, February–March 1994), Edizioni Vetta Nespignani, Rome, 1994, p. 12]

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Art

 The 5th Milan Triennial takes place. Mario Sironi decorates the Palazzo dell’Arte with frescoes and Corrado Cagli presents the large fresco Preludi alla guerra (Prelude to War). Mario Mafai takes part in the Mostra dell’Abitazione. 

Art

 Roberto Melli, Giuseppe Capogrossi and Emanuele Cavalli are the signatories of the manifesto Del Primordialismo Plastico.

Literature

 Gigi Chessa produces the cover for an Italian edition of Kafka’s The Trial, published by Frassinelli in its Biblioteca Europea series.

Art

 Antonietta Raphaël returns to Rome after stays in Paris and in London, where she had gone to resume contact with old artistic acquaintances.

1934

Art

 Ottone Rosai, Mario Mafai, Filippo de Pisis, Fausto Pirandello and Francesco De Rocchi take part in the XIX Venice Biennial.

GIGI CHESSA
Nudo, 1934
oil on canvas
h. 65.7 × 50.5 cm
“Chessa sought to obtain this greater consistency of image by simplifying the use of sign and outline to the utmost, a reduction that bewildered the few critics that noticed it, and through greater chromatic intensity and contrast in the application of colour. Not the intimacy of the scene but the minimal indication of its reality that painting is capable of offering in its firmest intonations. With some hesitation in the case of the nudes between large, obtrusive figures with almost mythological overtones (maternal figures with a certain sculptural quality; while the approaches of Derain and Picasso are not too distant, the dialogue with the sculptor Martini shows no interruption) and small figures of greater intimacy shown almost nostalgically on the point of making their departure. The game is played out, however, not so much in this iconographic development, crucial though it certainly is, as between the presence of the figure (nude or still life) and the setting, between the suspended visibility of the image and place, with a shift in plane marked by the outline of an armchair, a trace of drapery, an isolated note of colour.”[Paolo Fossati, ‘Il ruolo di Gigi Chessa pittore’, in Gigi Chessa 1898-1935, exh. cat. (Turin, Mole Antonelliana, 14 November 1987 – 14 February 1988), Fabbri Editori, Milan, 1987, pp. 31–32]

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History

The first meeting between Hitler and Mussolini takes place in Venice.

Art

 Aligi Sassu spends three months in Paris in contact with Filippo de Pisis, Alberto Magnelli, Massimo Campigli and Fernand Léger.

Art

 Luigi Broggini takes part in the V Mostra del Sindacato interprovinciale fascista delle Belle Arti di Lombardia at the Palazzo della Permanente in Milan.

CARLO LEVI
Nudo sdraiato, 1934
oil on canvas
h. 92 × 73.5 cm
“This work is painted by Levi in quick, concise strokes so that the back of the figure is completely embedded in a landscape brimming with mythic silence.”[Marisa Vescovo (ed.), Luci del mediterraneo, exh. cat. (Turin, Palazzo Bricherasio, 27 March – 29 June 1997), Electa, Milan, 1997, p. 169]

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Art

 The dialogue between Renato Guttuso (in Milan in 1934 and 1935) and the Roman School continues with a show at the Galleria Il Milione including work by Corrado Cagli and Mario Mafai as well as the Sicilian Gruppo dei Quattro (Group of Four).

Art

 Ottone Rosai, Dentro la guerra, Quaderni di Novissima, Rome, 1934.

Art

 Bruno Cassinari and Italo Valenti are admitted to the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera.

OTTONE ROSAI
I fidanzati, 1934
oil on wood
h. 70 × 49.7 cm
“This series can be seen as pervaded by a new sense of nature and common humanity in which the artist is unreservedly immersed with an organic symbiosis. It is an obvious and indisputable fact that this authentic proletariat (side by side with the boys and pubescent youths that constitute an amorous or erotic fugue) rises and sets up camp, mute and imperious, in the landscapes and the streets of country and town, which have in their solitude and silence, like the figures, a premonitory quality of the calm before the storm.”

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Art

 Mario Mafai shows work at the Wertheim Gallery in London and decides not to take part in the IV Mostra del Sindacato fascista Belle Arti del Lazio due to the absence of many leading Roman artists.

1935

History

Start of the African campaign and the imposition of sanctions on Italy.

RENATO BIROLLI
I poeti, 1935
oil on canvas
h. 90 × 108 cm
“His interrelated exploration of Cézanne and Van Gogh, based on reproductions, began in 1933, possibly prompted by the exhibition of the Roman School at the Milione in February and March 1933 (but already filtered in Milan by the Roman experience of Broggini), which should also have brought to mind other expressionistic points of reference, German or otherwise. In this expressionism, which continued in any case until 1937−38 and in which the heat of the crisis spurred the endeavour to bring man and painting together through the emotive magma of colour, the titles Gynaeceum, Poets, Eldorado and Chaos seem to emphasize the aspect of allegory more than the ‘emblem’ of the everyday experience of disintegration. In short, the intentional and voluntary nature of the project undermines the already undermined reading of the two terms of reference and especially the second, carried out – as previously stated – not first-hand but through reproductions: beautiful but unfaithful. Birolli must indeed have sensed this himself, as he felt the need in 1936 for first-hand knowledge in Paris.”['Renato Birolli’, in Il Chiarismo Lombardo, ed. Renzo Margonari and Renzo Modesti, exh. cat. (Milan, Palazzo Bagatti-Valsecchi - Mantua, Casa del Mantegna, 1986), Vangelista, Milan, 1986, p. 109]

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History

 Italian troops cross the Ethiopian border and the League of Nations votes to impose sanctions on Italy for an attack on one of its member countries. Victor Emanuel III assumes the title of emperor of Ethiopia the following year.

Art

 Ottone Rosai takes part in an exhibition of contemporary Italian art in Warsaw and produces two mural panels for the new railway station in Florence.

Art

 Filippo de Pisis, Francesco De Rocchi, Carlo Levi, Francesco Menzio and Fausto Pirandello take part in L’Art Italien des XIXe et XXe siècles at the Jeu de Paume in Paris. 

Art

 Beniamino Joppolo, ‘Renato Birolli’, Corriere padano, 22 June 1935.

Art

 The second Rome Quadrennial, held at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni, marks the triumph of the Roman School. The exhibition is normally limited to living artists but an exception is made to hold a retrospective of work by Scipione. Personal rooms are assigned to Mario Mafai, Fausto Pirandello and Corrado Cagli. The other participants include Ottone Rosai, Lugi Broggini, Roberto Melli, Alberto Ziveri, Filippo De Pisis, Francesco De Rocchi and Renato Guttuso (in Rome for the occasion). Francesco Menzio is a member of the selection panel.

Art

 Death of Gigi Chessa.

Art

 Luigi Broggini takes part in the VI Mostra del Sindacato interprovinciale fascista di Belle Arti di Lombardia at the Palazzo della Permanente in Milan and the Mostra di bianco e nero at the Galleria Il Milione.

Art

 Wedding of Antonietta Raphaël and Mario Mafai. 

ANGELO DEL BON
Rocca delle Caminate n.2, 1935
oil on canvas
h. 127 × 148 cm
“Together with Lilloni, De Rocchi, Padova and others, Del Bon introduced into the sphere of the prize the character of the Lombard Chiarismo at which he had arrived after his Fauvist period. The work, other versions of which were also painted by the artist, was numbered 150 and shown in room XVIII on the upper floor. It is a landscape with a castle then of great renown in Fascist ‘hagiography’, namely the Rocca delle Caminate in the hills not far from Predappio, Mussolini’s place of birth. There is, however, no trace of celebration in the pale and wholly emotive landscape.”[Description of the work in Gli anni del Premio Bergamo. Arte in Italia intorno agli anni Trenta, exh. cat. (Bergamo, Galleria d’arte moderna e contemporanea e l’Accademia Carrara, 25 September 1993 – 9 January 1994, Electa, Milan, 1993]

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Art

 Opening of the Galleria della Cometa, directed by Libero De Libero, in Rome.

Art

 Filippo de Pisis holds a solo show at the Zwemmer gallery in London.

Art

 Carlo Levi is interned in the town of Aliano in the province of Matera. This experience, which ends the following year, is followed by the introduction of a vein of realism with marked humanistic overtones into his painting. 

Art

 Fausto Pirandello, Mario Mafai and Ottone Rosai are among the artists taking part in the Exhibition of Contemporary Italian Painting at the Museum of Honour in San Francisco (followed by other venues in the United States).

Art

 Carlo Belli, Kn, Edizioni del Milione, Milan, 1935.

Art

 Italo Valenti’s passport is confiscated by the Fascist authorities on his return from a trip to Brussels and Paris, and not returned until 1946

Art

 Fausto Pirandello takes part in the editions of the International Exhibition of Paintings held at the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh from 1935 to 1939.

1936

Art

 Renato Birolli makes his first trip to Paris, where he meets Lionello Venturi. During his military service in Milan, he meets Beniamino Joppolo and Renato Guttuso, who has a studio in the city.

RENATO BIROLLI
Il caos, 1936
oil on canvas
h. 110 × 90 cm
“The first photographic reproduction of the painting appeared in Valori primordiali (pl. XIX) in February 1938 together with works by Carrà, De Chirico, Ghiringhelli, Radice, Rho and Fontana, examples of the modern trends of contemporary Italian art. They were then reprinted, with a shocking reversal of intent, by Telesio Interlandi in Il Tevere, 24-25 November, as evidence of the degenerate character of a ‘foreign, Bolshevik, Jewish art. While Interlandi chose Caos because of its title and openly expressionistic nature, the possibility cannot be ruled out of an allusion in the article to the appearance of some artists from Milan and Turin before the Fascist special tribunal and the trial of Birolli, who was imprisoned in 1937. The work’s scandalous first appearance in 1938 was followed by its publication in Sandro Bini’s monograph of 1941 for Edizioni di Corrente. The painting’s reception was in any case problematic and even the most up-to-date critics were confused in their reading of such a complex and enigmatic work.”[Paolo Rusconi, description of the work in Anni Trenta. Arti in Italia oltre il fascismo, ed. Antonello Negri, Silvia Bignami, Paolo Rusconi, Giorgio Zanchetti, exh. cat. (Florence, Palazzo Strozzi, 22 September 2012 – 27 January 2013), Giunti, Florence, 2012, p. 153]

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Art

 The participants in the XX Venice Biennial include Ottone Rosai, Francesco De Rocchi, Filippo de Pisis, Renato Guttuso, Mario Mafai, Francesco Menzio and Fausto Pirandello, whose father Luigi Pirandello dies after visiting the event. 

Art

 Carlo Carrà, ‘La VII Mostra Sindacale Lombarda alla Permanente’, L’Ambrosiano, anno XIV, no. 40, 15 February 1936.

Art

 The Principe Umberto prize is awarded jointly to Manzù and to Francesco De Rocchi for his painting La popolana lombarda. De Rocchi opens a studio in Milan the following year and lives there on a permanent basis as from 1940 in contact with Gio Ponti, Alfonso Gatto and Sergio Solmi.

Art

 The Galleria della Cometa holds solo shows of work by Roberto Melli (presented by Libero De Libero) and Alberto Ziveri (with an introduction in the catalogue by Roberto Melli).

Art

 Ottone Rosai holds a solo show and delivers a lecture at the Lyceum in Florence that is subsequently published under the title Difesa in the magazine Frontespizio.

Art

 Mario Mafai, Roberto Melli and Fausto Pirandello take part in the VII Mostra del Sindacato fascista del Lazio.

History

 Signing of the agreement between Italy and Germany known as the Rome-Berlin Axis.

Art

 Aligi Sassu is arrested and serves an 18-month sentence for political conspiracy.

Art

 Works related to Carlo Levi’s internment in the region of Lucania are featured in his show at the Galleria Il Milione and in the one held the following year at the Galleria della Cometa.

RENATO GUTTUSO
Autoritratto , 1936
Indian ink on paper
h. 45 × 32 cm
“Every morning when I shave, I see a slightly different man in the mirror; a touch, just enough to sense that nothing happens inside me without leaving trace. The face is everything. The story that we are living through and the trials of all the days are there on people’s faces. We wear it inscribed with the events that happen to us directly and those that take place far away. We are the real film of reality, and this is what I paint.”[Renato Guttuso cit. in Mario Farinella, ‘I 70 anni del giovane Guttuso’, L'Ora, Palermo, 10 December 1981]

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Art

 Renato Birolli and Aligi Sassu take part in the VII Sindacale interprovinciale lombarda at the Palazzo della Permanente in Milan, which displays a more expressionist character and looks forward to the Corrente movement.

Art

 Death of Edoardo Persico.

Art

 Mario Mafai starts work on the reading room of the Casa del Balilla (Fascist Youth centre) in the Trastevere district of Rome, designed by the architect Luigi Moretti. Alberto Ziveri, Renato Marino Mazzacurati and Antonietta Raphaël are also involved in the decorations, which are completed in 1937.

Art

 Luigi Broggini takes part in the VII Mostra del Sindacato interprovinciale fascista Belle Arti di Lombardia at the Palazzo della Permanente in Milan.

Art

 The artists participating in the Mostra di pittura moderna italiana at Villa Olmo in Como include Francesco Del Bon, Filippo de Pisis and Ottone Rosai (with L'intagliatore).

Art

 Lamberto Vitali, Vincent Van Gogh, Hoepli, Milan, 1936. 

History

 Mussolini supports Franco by sending Fascist volunteers to fight on his side in the Spanish Civil War.

1937

History

 Planning begins for the Expo scheduled to be held in Rome in 1942. Mussolini inaugurates the Cinecittà film studio complex.

ALBERTO ZIVERI
Studio per La Rissa, 1937
oil on canvas
h. 65 × 70 cm
“On returning to his studio in Rome, he thought again of what he had seen in Paris, Belgium and the Netherlands during the trip made in 1937 in search of ancient things so different from those (Piero della Francesca above all, Giotto and Masaccio) that he and so many other young ‘restorers’ of Italian greatness had loved: Titian and Rembrandt, Delacroix and Courbet, but also the smeared light of El Greco, the sumptuous chromatic substance of Rubens, and everything able in one way or another – in the Louvre, Les Halles or the 17th-century Dutch interiors of the Rijksmuseum – to speak to him of ‘penetrating and sensual reality’ and ‘strong, swift, realistic life’. Transcribed in the heat of the moment, immediately after his return to Italy and certainly in an anxious rush to bring those new discoveries into play all together, this impetus found at first, sometimes confusedly and as though laboriously, a fully resolved outcome in image … Even a classic, age-old subject like the model in the studio could thus turn into threatening, sneering drift of senses. La rissa (The Brawl), a painting of great size and great commitment that in some ways recapitulates Ziveri’s very first step towards a new approach in painting and that strives to restate everything about a gory scene of plebeian violence, stops just one step short of the conscious, exhibition of vulgarity in its effort to capture the form, the stupidity and the brutality of fighting everywhere.”[Fabrizio D’Amico, ‘Alberto Ziveri’, in Alberto Ziveri, ed. F. D’Amico, exh. cat. (Modena, Galleria Civica-Palazzina dei Giardini, 27 September – 29 November 1992), Nuova Alfa Editoriale, Bologna, 1992, pp. 8–10]

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Art

 Renato Guttuso moves to Rome and stays in the house of the Marchesa Maria de Seta, owner of the Galleria Mediterranea in Palermo. It is there that he meets Maria Luisa Dotti, known as Mimise, who becomes his wife in 1950.

Art

 Alberto Ziveri goes on a trip around Europa and experiences the painting of Rembrandt, Goya and the Flemish masters first hand.

Art

 Show of work by Ottone Rosai and his pupils (Rosai Ottone e i suoi Allievi) at the Galleria Genova, then directed by Stefano Cairola (who subsequently shows works by the Corrente group). Francesco De Rocchi also holds a show there.

Art

 Luigi Broggini takes part in the VIII Mostra del Sindacato interprovinciale fascista Belle Arti di Lombardia at the Palazzo della Permanente in Milan.

Art

 Afro, Corrado Cagli, Mario Mafai, Fausto Pirandello and Alberto Ziveri take part in the VII Mostra del Sindacato Fascista Belle Arti del Lazio in Rome. 

Art

 Paul Fierens, De Pisis, Chroniques du jour, Paris, 1937.

Art

 Ottone Rosai begins to frequent the large group of writers, including Eugenio Montale and Mario Luzi, who gather at the Giubbe Rosse café in Florence.

History

 Hitler receives Mussolini in Berlin’s Olympic Stadium.

History

 Introduction of the racial laws in Italy. 

Art

 Ennio Morlotti makes his first trip to Paris and visits the Expo, where Picasso presents Guernica. 

Art

 The series of events leading up to the Corrente group’s opposition to the Fascist regime includes the arrests of Aligi Sassu (sentenced to ten years but pardoned in 1938), Luigi Grosso, Renato Birolli (who spends six weeks in prison), Italo Valenti, Beniamino Joppolo and Giuseppe Migneco, who are released after a few days. 

Art

 Sandro Bini, Metamorfosi - 46 disegni di Renato Birolli, Campo Grafico, Milan, 1937.

1938

Art

 In Milan Ernesto Treccani founds the journal Vita Giovanile, subsequently renamed Corrente di Vita Giovanile and then Corrente (around which figures like Renato Birolli, Renato Guttuso and Aligi Sassu gather) until its closure by order of Mussolini in 1940. Vita Giovanile publishes the article ‘Pittura e pubblico’ by Arnaldo Badodi defending the intellectual and moral dignity of the artist and rebelling against the Fascist imposition of order.

LUIGI BROGGINI
Ballerina, 1938
bronze
h. 32 × 19 × 17 cm
“Movement. I believe I can rule out any possibility of Broggini having been touched even slightly by dynamism in the specific Futurist sense … If Broggini appears to share the basic attitude, if he at first declared his inclination towards a return to the impression, there appear to be no secure grounds for the identification of ancestry as regards the specific aspect of movement … It seems to me, however, that at present, at best, sculpture tends to accord priority to the tension of forms rather than movement in itself; that, in particular, the history of movement in action, of instantaneity, has been eluded or is present at worst but as though frozen by monumentality, established by rhetoric and mannerism.”[Renzo Modesti, ‘Luigi Broggini’, in Luigi Broggini, ed. R. Modesti, exh. cat., (Varese, Musei Civici di Villa Mirabello, 23 March – 28 April 1991), Vangelista, Milan, 1991, p. 28]

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Art

 Renato Birolli holds a show at the Galleria Arcobaleno in Venice.

Art

 Ottone Rosai, Francesco De Rocchi, Mario Mafai and Alberto Ziveri take part in the XXI Venice Biennial.

Art

 Giuseppe Marchiori, ‘Filippo De Pisis’, Emporium, January 1938.

Art

 Filippo De Pisis, ‘La cosiddetta arte metafisica’, Emporium, XLIV, 11, November 1938

RENATO GUTTUSO
Natura morta con garofani e frutta, 1938
oil on rug cardboard
h. 47 × 54 cm
“An acute and unconcealed sense of colour, as revealed with greater sureness for example in the Natura morta di garofani e frutta, with a white that is a voice awakening the other things from their somnolent state.”[Nino Savarese (1938), cit. in Guttuso 1912-2012, ed. Fabio Carapezza Guttuso, Enrico Crispolti, exh. cat. (Rome, Complesso del Vittoriano, 12 October 2012 – 10 February 2013), Skira, Milan, 2012, pp. 28–29]

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History

 Adolf Hitler visits Italy and is greeted with military parades in Rome, Naples and Florence.

Art

 The IX Mostra di Pittura del Sindacato interprovinciale fascista Belle Arti di Milano at the Palazzo della Permanente in Milan prompts an article by Giuseppe Marchiori in the Corriere padano on young Milanese artists including Renato Birolli, Fiorenzo Tomea, Gabriele Mucchi, Aligi Sassu, Giacomo Manzù, Italo Valenti, Renato Guttuso, Giuseppe Migneco and Arnaldo Badodi. 

Art

 Nino Savarese, ‘Pittura di Renato Guttuso’, Corrente, anno I, no. 7, 30 April 1938.

History

 Munich Conference between Hitler, Mussolini, Chamberlain and Daladier.

RENATO GUTTUSO
Ritratto di Mimise, 1938
oil on rug cardboard
h. 70.6 × 50 cm
“[Guttuso] was to paint Mimise in intense portraits such as the Ritratto di Mimise con cappello rosso (Portrait of Mimise in a Red Hat) and Nudo sdraiato (Reclining Nude) and emphasize her love of animals in Mano di Mimise con la rondine (Mimise’s Hand with a Swallow). The perfect German profile of the woman who became his wife in 1950 was to be ruined by a series of terrible accidents. Guttuso painted her again in Ritratto di Mimise (1947), reassembling her beautiful features in a post-Cubist perspective.”[Fabio Carapezza Guttuso, ‘La Rome di Guttuso’, in Guttuso 1912-2012, ed, F. Carapezza Guttuso and Enrico Crispolti, exh. cat. (Rome, Complesso del Vittoriano, 12 October 2012 – 10 February 2013), Skira, Milan, 2012, p. 30]

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Art

 Renato Guttuso’s first solo show is held in Rome at the Galleria della Cometa, which is then closed down for showing the work of two Jewish artists, Corrado Cagli and Cecil Blunt, the husband of the Contessa Anna Letizia Pecci-Blunt.

Art

 Work by Filippo de Pisis, Renato Guttuso, Mario Mafai, Fausto Pirandello, Ottone Rosai and Scipione is shown in the second Rome Quadrennial.

History

 Prohibition of marriage between Jews and “Arians” and introduction of anti-Semitic measures to eliminate Jews from the education system, art exhibitions, state institutes of culture and public offices. Birth of the magazine Difesa della razza. 

Art

 Giuseppe Marchiori, Scipione, Hoepli, Milan, 1938.

LUIGI BROGGINI
Figura al sole, 1938-1939
bronze
h. 43.5 × 29 × 13 cm
“Light. I would describe it as full-bodied, like the sensuality. With strong contrasts, piercing, but also attentive to the shadowiest shadow, the lightest light, the most hidden and intimate darkness. For light too, Broggini’s work was born to move, in need of a self-propelling base. It and not the light must move round her. Light caressed over broad expanses but also slapped down in streaks, gleams, flares, patches, cutting sneers. Deep and dramatic but also tender, darting, sad and astonished. The world, it seems, began with light. And the use of the expression to see the light in the sense of to be born is not rhetoric, or at least not intended as such. Yes, every work by Broggini comes from light, from its own light, with which it lives and moves, enumerating its hypotheses in space, hypotheses that come true, that become projected, mobile reality.”[Renzo Modesti, ‘Luigi Broggini’, in Luigi Broggini, ed. R. Modesti, exh. cat., (Varese, Musei Civici di Villa Mirabello, 23 March – 28 April 1991), Vangelista, Milan, 1991, pp. 27–28]

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Art

 Roberto Melli, Fausto Pirandello and Antonietta Raphaël take part in the Terza Mostra del Sindacato regionale fascista Belle Arti del Lazio.

1939

Art

 Filippo De Pisis, Poesie, Modernissima, Rome, 1939.

LUCIO FONTANA
Nudo in piedi, 1939
sculpture - painted plaster and wax
h. 58 × 18.5 × 17 cm

Art

 A celebration of Sicilian painting at the Teatro Massimo Vittorio Emanuele in Palermo with five shows including the IX Mostra Sindacale d’Arte, in which Renato Guttuso takes part.

Art

 Work by Filippo de Pisis, Renato Guttuso, Mario Mafai and Scipione is shown in San Francisco at the Golden Gate International Exhibition of Contemporary Art.

Art

 After a trip to Paris, Ennio Morlotti moves to Milan and studies under Aldo Carpi and Achille Funi at the Accademia di Brera. He soon joins the Corrente group.

Art

 Work by Filippo de Pisis, Mario Mafai, Fausto Pirandello and Scipione is featured in the Italian pavilion at the New York World’s Fair.

Art

 Ottone Rosai, ‘Le mie esperienze’, Il Tempo, 2 November 1939

Art

 A solo show of Umberto Lilloni at the Galleria Grande in Milan coincides with a monograph on the artist by Emilio Radius. Guido Piovene uses the term chiarismo in his review of the show. 

Art

 Ottone Rosai shows work at the Galleria Barbaroux in Milan.

Art

 Giuseppe Raimondi, ‘Dodici dipinti regalati da Filippo De Pisis alla R. Galleria d’Arte Moderna’, Le Arti, II, fasc. II, December 1939 – January 1940.

Art

 Filippo de Pisis returns to Milan and remains there until 1943.

ITALO VALENTI
I giovani greci, 1939
oil on canvas
h. 40 × 50 cm
“He was always fascinated by the pre-Socratics and their enlightened, enlightening, visionary thought, simultaneously simple and complicated … Mythology offered him the archetypes of our imagination and psyche translated into glowing poetry as well as allusive, evocative titles for his canvases, where he conjured up Helen’s striking dance or the adventurous vessel of Ulysses. But alongside Homeric luminosity lay the depths of awareness and intuition. Italo was no less impressed by the tombs of Mycenae than by the Parthenon, by the Eleusinian mysteries than by Epidaurus. He sought inspiration also from the oracles, at Knossos; he observed the dolmen and felt the Celtic spirit of the woods and the druids. To placate his own understanding and find certain impossible answers, he travelled all the paths along which the human mind has arrived at deep insights and created fertile symbols to give a sense to objects and events or express the same, to trace the archetypes of our imagination and the figures of our thought, to take refuge in the apparent simplicity of Chinese quatrains.”Carlo Carena, ‘Italo e i suoi quadri’, in Italo Valenti. Catalogo ragionato dei paintings, ed. C. Carena and Stefano Pult, Skira, Milan, 1998, p. 10

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Art

 Sandro Bini, ‘Arnaldo Badodi’, Corrente, anno II, no. 6, 31 March 1939.

Art

 Antonietta Raphaël is forced by anti-Semitic discrimination to move with her daughters to the region of Liguria, where she can count on the support of Emilio Jesi and Alberto Della Ragione. Mario Mafai frequently visits them there and meets Giacomo Manzù, Renato Guttuso and Renato Birolli through relations with the two collectors and shows at the Galleria Genova. He also holds a show at the Galleria Arcobaleno in Venice with a catalogue edited by Carlo Ludovico Ragghianti. Called up as a reservist, Mafai is stationed in Macerata, where he remains until 1942 (with periodical trips to Rome and Genoa).

Art

 Luigi Broggini is awarded the Fumagalli Prize by the Accademia di Brera, where Italo Valenti begins to teach a course on the nude. 

History

 Galeazzo Ciano and Joachim von Ribbentrop sign the Pact of Steel military alliance between Italy and Germany in Berlin.

Art

 The first two exhibitions organized by the journal Corrente di Vita Giovanile take place in Milan at the Palazzo della Permanente and the Galleria P. Grande. The artists taking part include Renato Birolli, Renato Guttuso, Mario Mafai and Fausto Pirandello.

Art

 Ottone Rosai, Alberto Ziveri, Filippo de Pisis, Renato Guttuso, Mario Mafai, Francesco Menzio and Fausto Pirandello take part in the third Rome Quadrennial.

Art

 Renato Guttuso, ‘Appunti’, Il Selvaggio, anno VIII, no. 9-10, 30 November 1939.

Art

 Creation of the Bergamo Prize (1939–42) by Giuseppe Bottai, Minister of Education, in opposition to the Cremona Prize (1939–41), founded by Roberto Farinacci.

1940

Art

 First issue of Primato, edited by Giuseppe Bottai and Giorgio Vecchietti. The contributors include Mario Mafai, Ottone Rosai, Renato Guttuso and Filippo de Pisis.

ARNALDO BADODI
Caffè, 1940
oil on plywood
h. 48 × 58 cm
“In the Caffè the violent reds of the chairs animate the entire scene with shrill notes and gleams, creating a great bustle among the figures inhabiting a lyrical atmosphere full of sounds and echoes.”Enotrio Mastrolonardo, ‘Nota su Arnaldo Badodi’, Meridiano di Roma, no. 4, 26 January 1941, p. IV

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Art

 The journal Corrente is closed down for its critical stance towards the Fascist regime. 

Art

Aldo Capasso, ‘La condizione dell’arte’, Quadrivio, anno VIII, no. 44, August 1940. 

Art

 Renato Guttuso, Virgilio Guzzi, Luigi Montanarini, Orfeo Tamburi, Pericle Fazzini and Alberto Ziveri hold a group show at the Galleria di Roma.

Art

 A show of work by Renato Birolli inaugurates the Bottega degli Artisti di Corrente in Via della Spiga 9, Milan, directed by Duilio Morosini. Alberto della Ragione, a naval engineer from Sorrento but Genoese by adoption, becomes the primary supporter of Corrente. 

Art

 Luigi Broggini holds a solo show at the Galleria del Milione in Milan.

Art

 Renato Guttuso, Mario Mafai and Fausto Pirandello take part in the IX Mostra del Sindacato interprovinciale fascista Belle Arti del Lazio.

ARNALDO BADODI
Donna al Caffè, 1940
oil on wood
h. 40 × 30 cm
“The Ritratto di ragazza painted by Badodi in 1941, a year before leaving for the Russian front, where he was to die at the age of 30, is a psychological investigation. The young woman, a model named Anita who can be recognized in some of his other works of the period, has stopped reading and sits with a faraway, melancholy expression, her head bent over the book … The subject is static but the composition, built up on diagonals, injects a restless dynamism into the image. Then there is the singular position of the right hand, not resting on the cheek or the page, as would be more natural, but placed in front of the face as though to protect or separate the figure from the world outside … The portrait was first presented in a solo show at the Galleria Genova in Genoa in March 1941.”[Elena Pontiggia, ‘Il ritratto a Milan 1929-1942. Opere’, in Carla Maria Maggi e il ritratto a Milan negli anni trenta, ed. E. Pontiggia, exh. cat. (Milan, Palazzo Reale, 15 June – 5 September 2010), Skira, Milan, 2010, p. 57]

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History

 Italian troops occupy Sollum and Sidiel-Barrani in Egypt.

Art

 Renato Guttuso holds a solo show at the Galleria Genova with a presentation by Alberto Moravia. Ottone Rosai also shows work there

Art

 Carlo Levi is forced to return to Italy after the German occupation of Paris.

Art

 Renato Guttuso, ‘Nota a Mafai’, Primato, anno I, no. 13, September 1940.

Art

 Telesio Interlandi, ‘La condizione dell’arte’, Quadrivio, 1940.

History

 Tripartite pact between Germany, Italy and Japan to establish a “new order” in Europe and Central Asia directed against the Soviet Union.

FILIPPO DE PISIS
Il suonatore di flauto, 1940
oil on canvas
h. 65 × 60 cm
“The return to Milan in 1939 marked a pause in the accentuated, dramatic tension of the urban landscapes and still lifes of the last period in Paris. London had galvanized him again the year before, in 1938, with its skies apparently incapable of communication but actually a void pregnant with pictorial energy, charged with light. Everything seemed to be in a lower key in Milan, the light more muted, the accents and faces more melancholy. There was evidently no light in this city, where he initially stayed at the Vittoria hotel. Shades of grey predominated and faces of the wretched invaded the studio, one sadder than the other in their desperate solitude.”[Paolo Campiglio, ‘Le voyage di De Pisis’, in De Pisis en voyage. Rome, Parigi, Londra, Milan, Venezia, ed. P. Campiglio, exh. cat. (Parma-Mamiano di Traversetolo, Fondazione Magnani Rocca, 13 September – 8 December 2013), Silvana Editoriale, Milan, 2013, p. 37]

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Art

 Enotrio Mastrolonardo, ‘Arnaldo Badodi’, Augustea, anno XV, no. 23-24, October 1940.

Art

 Alfonso Gatto, Luigi Broggini, Edizioni del Milione, Milan, 1940.

History

 Italy declares war on France and Great Britain. Hitler and Mussolini meet in Munich to agree on the conditions of an armistice for France.

Art

 Ottone Rosai, Filippo de Pisis, Renato Guttuso, Mario Mafai, Umberto Lilloni and Francesco Menzio take part in an exhibition of contemporary Italian painters and sculptors at the Kunsthaus in Zurich.

Art

 Mario Mafai shows work in Milan at the Galleria Barbaroux.

Art

 Mario Mafai wins the Bergamo Prize with Renato Guttuso in third place.

ERNESTO TRECCANI
Autoritratto, 1940-1941
oil on canvas
h. 40 × 35 cm
“This self-portrait, one of Treccani’s first paintings, retains a note of adolescent freshness, a psychological rather than physical feeling underscored also by the use of the first name alone as a signature (a tribute to Van Gogh, who signed some works simply Vincent) … The work was first shown in the group exhibition Badodi, Birolli, Broggini, Cassinari, Cherchi, Fontana, Gauli, Lanaro, Migneco, Paganin, Sassu, Valenti at the Bottega di Corrente, June-July 1941. Even though Treccani took part without being included in the title, Costantini mentioned him in his review in Emporium: ‘Now it is the turn of Treccani, whose only portrait (exhibited here) is very promising.’”[Elena Pontiggia, ‘Il ritratto a Milan 1929-1942. Opere’, in Carla Maria Maggi e il ritratto a Milan negli anni trenta, ed. E. Pontiggia, exh. cat. (Milan, Palazzo Reale, 15 June – 5 September 2010), Skira, Milan, 2010, p. 60]

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Art

 Albino Galvano, ‘Francesco Menzio’, Le Arti, May 1940

Art

 The journal Corrente is closed down for its critical stance towards the Fascist regime. 

1941

Art

 Renato Birolli. Trenta tavole in nero, una a colori e cinque disegni, con scritti dell'autore e un testo critico di Sandro Bini, Edizioni di Corrente, Milan, 1941. 

RENATO BIROLLI
Signora col cappello (ritratto di Enrica Cavallo), 1941
oil on canvas
h. 84 × 57 cm
“The portrait of Enrica Cavallo was shown for the first time in the third Bergamo Prize in September 1941. Radius expressed some reservations, claiming that the ‘courageous beauty’ of the work ‘is ruined by the sudden stiffening of the figure precisely in the neck and head’. It is in actual fact a superb portrait that draws on Van Gogh’s Berceuse (as seen in the oblique position of the figure and the elevated viewpoint) but reworks it with different austerity and indeed almost with the rarefied mental cadence of which the artist spoke. The dark, solemn figure of the woman stands out against a yellow background where volume is annihilated and space severely contracted, reduced to no more than the semblance of a table and a series of crooked lines.”[Elena Pontiggia, ‘Gli artisti di Corrente. Tavole’, in Sassu e Corrente 1930-1943. La rivoluzione del colore, ed. E. Pontiggia, Alfredo Paglione, exh. cat. (Chieti, Palazzo de’ Mayo / SET Spazio Esposizioni Temporanee, 25 July – 7 October 2012), Umberto Allemandi & C., Turin-London-Venice-New York, 2012, p. 74]

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Art

 Italo Valenti holds his first shows at the Galleria Genova with Luigi Broggini and the Bottega di Corrente in Milan, presented by Luciano Anceschi.

History

 Germany and Italy declare war on Yugoslavia. Joint German and Italian offensive in Greece.

Art

 Arnaldo Badodi shows work at the Galleria della Spiga in Milan. A larger solo show is held the same year at the Galleria Genova, where Mario Mafai and Aligi Sassu also exhibit work.

BRUNO CASSINARI
Ritratto di Ernesto Treccani, 1941
oil on wood
h. 60 × 45 cm
“In addition to these works − characterized by the substantially lyrical-expressionist tendency peculiar to the first phase of Corrente and that can also be seen in the unbridled lyricism to which Vittorini yielded − Cassinari presented a series of portraits at the Bottega di Corrente including the well-known Rosetta (cat. 1941 2) and Treccani (cat. 1941 1). The more compact structuring of colour that takes shape in them marks a move beyond the quivering arabesque forms toward a vocabulary that is more solid and unadorned; in short, the authentically constructive vocabulary that characterizes the second phase of the Corrente group as from about 1942.”[Giovanni Anzani, ‘La prima attività di Bruno Cassinari (1930-1950). Da Milan ad Antibes via Parigi’, in Cassinari. Catalogo generale dei dipinti, ed. Marco Crisci, vol. I, Electa, Milan, 1998, p. 14]Condition reports realizzato dalla Dott.ssa Luisa Mensi prima della mostra al Palazzo Storico del Credito Bergamasco: Italia 1920-1945. Da de Pisis a Guttuso, da Sassu a Vedova. La Collezione Giuseppe Iannaccone. Dal 4 maggio al 9 giugno 2017. 

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Art

 Podestà, ‘Luigi Broggini e Italo Valenti’, Emporium, anno XLVII, no. 9, Istituto Italiano d’Arti Grafiche, Bergamo, September. 

Art

 Enotrio Mastrolonardo, ‘Nota su Arnaldo Badodi’, Meridiano di Rome, anno VI, no. 4, January 1941.

Art

G. Scheiwiller (a cura di), Ottone Rosai, Hoepli, Milano 1941. 

FILIPPO DE PISIS
Il Foro Bonaparte a Milano, 1941
oil on canvas
h. 70 × 50 cm
“The artist’s wanderings en plein air and early détournement in the city streets often led him into urban parks (Il Foro Bonaparte a Milano, 1941), towards the nature juxtaposed in town to the orderly streets and rows of houses, by the waterside, on the canals (Il vecchio Naviglio a Milano, 1942), on the outskirts or by monuments in the old town centre, seldom in the cathedral square but in front of the eccentric Casa degli Omenoni (1942), in new and silvery views.”[Paolo Campiglio (ed.), De Pisis en voyage. Roma, Parigi, Londra, Milano, Venezia, exh. cat. (Parma-Mamiano di Traversetolo, Fondazione Magnani Rocca, 13 September – 8 December 2013), Silvana Editoriale, Milan, 2013, p. 38]

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Art

 The Bottega di Corrente exhibits numerous works from Aligi Sassu’s Uomini rossi series and hosts a solo show of Giuseppe Migneco. 

Art

 Ottone Rosai serves on the jury of the Bergamo Prize and shows work in Turin at the Società Amici dell'Arte.

Art

 Arrest of Luigi Broggini for anti-fascist activities during a visit to his mother in Ligurno near Varese. A show of his ceramics is held at the Galleria Il Milione in Milan (Mostra di ceramiche dello scultore Luigi Broggini).

GIUSEPPE MIGNECO
Natura morta con maschere, 1941
oil on canvas
h. 49 × 39 cm
“The Natura morta con maschere belongs to a later period when … the linear undulation of Migneco’s works tended to diminish and lessen the degree of compositional vibration. The set of objects has a symbolic value. The masks, a motif borrowed from Ensor but frequent also in the painting of Birolli and Tomea, allude to camouflage, dissimulation, an appearance differing from reality. The lamp, whose cord describes a long arabesque before coming to rest on the table with the plug left visible in the foreground, seems to suggest a desire to cast light, to discover what lies hidden behind the deceptive appearance of things.”[Elena Pontiggia, ‘Gli artisti di Corrente. Tavole’, in Sassu e Corrente 1930-1943. La rivoluzione del colore, ed. E. Pontiggia, Alfredo Paglione, exh. cat. (Chieti, Palazzo de’ Mayo / SET Spazio Esposizioni Temporanee, 25 July – 7 October 2012), Umberto Allemandi & C., Turin-London-Venice-New York, 2012, p. 86]

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Art

 Renato Guttuso, ‘Una mostra di Pirandello’, Primato, II, no. 6, March 1941.

Art

 Posthumous exhibition Scipione. Cinque tricromie raccolte dal Centro di azione per le arti at the Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan with a critical study by Antonino Santangelo.

Art

 Mario De Micheli, ‘Commento a Birolli’, Architrave, anno I, no. 8, 1941.

ALIGI SASSU
Nu au divan vert, 1941
oil on canvas
h. 97 × 65 cm
“The emphasis in the depiction of the nude − of conspicuous and almost ostentatious voluptuousness − is an element of poetic licence with respect to the Maupassant story, an interpretation whereby Sassu may have wished to highlight the value of the exhibition of the female body in terms of offering and solitary presence. An invitation to the viewer to look into the mirror of imposing forms, a nude steeped in melancholy that seems to shatter the limits of the pictorial support … The compositional register characterizing the works of this series is multifaceted. Some present blazing colour verging on expressionism, e.g. Maison Tellier (1948) while in others, such as La mezzana (Maison Tellier) (1947) and Nu au divan vert (1941), a return to the diagonal cutting through the painting recalls classic models like Manet’s Olympia if not indeed Michelangelo’s Leda and the Swan or the odalisques of Delacroix, an artist Sassu loved.”[Alessia Giglio Zanetti, ‘Specchi di casa Tellier’, in Sassu. Maison Tellier, Fondazione Aligi Sassu and Helenita Olivares, exh. cat. (Lugano, Villa Ciani, 17 October 2008 – 1 March 2009), Edizioni Città di Lugano, Lugano, 2009, pp. 22–23]

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Art

Birolli, Edizioni di Corrente, Milano 1941. 

1942

Art

 Mario Mafai is transferred from Macerata to the Celio barracks in Rome. An article by him entitled ‘La mia pittura’ appears in Tempo. He also publishes some letters received from Scipione in 1932 in Prospettive (no. 25-27).

RENATO GUTTUSO
Ritratto di Antonino Santangelo, 1942
oil on canvas
h. 100 × 70 cm
“The paintings of Mario Alicata and Antonio Santangelo are equally emblematic examples of expressionist portraiture. Here too, the close-up focus restricts the field of vision and the setting is reduced to a cramped space with the figure squeezed into the background. The oblique rather than frontal pose gives a sense of mobility and immediacy, like the spontaneous gesture of the figures, who stick their fingers into the nooks and crannies of the objects. There are, however, two years between the two portraits. While the drawing in the first is still partially fluid, as can be seen in the irregular streaks in the background, the wavy line of the hair and the jacket of Cézanne-like form and colour, the second displays a Picassan density of volume and accentuation of certain details … The writer’s enormous, primordial hands are also reminiscent of Picasso. Above and beyond the stylistic elements, however, the picture the Sicilian critic looking up from the book as he follows the bitter thread of his thoughts remains the unforgettable image of a man immersed in meditation that harbours no illusions and is born out of the hard reality of facts rather than books.”[Elena Pontiggia, ‘Gli artisti di Corrente. Tavole’, in Sassu e Corrente 1930-1943. La rivoluzione del colore, ed. E. Pontiggia, Alfredo Paglione, exh. cat. (Chieti, Palazzo de’ Mayo / SET Spazio Esposizioni Temporanee, 25 July – 7 October 2012), Umberto Allemandi & C., Turin-London-Venice-New York, 2012, p. 94]

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Art

 The collecter Alberto della Ragione come to the financial aid of the Bottega degli Artisti di Corrente, which is renamed the Galleria della Spiga e Corrente and holds shows of work by Scipione and Emilio Vedova.

Art

 Renato Guttuso’s Crocifissione (Crucifixion) is placed second in the fourth and last edition of the Bergamo Prize, which is awarded to Francesco Menzio.

Art

 Luigi Broggini is awarded the Ministry of Education’s first prize for his artistic activity but is unable to receive it because he is still in prison.

Art

 Giulio Carlo Argan, ‘Pitture di De Pisis’, Primato, January 1942.

Art

 Filippo De Pisis, Poesie, Vallecchi, Florence, 1942.

ROBERTO MELLI
La lettura, 1942
oil on canvas
h. 90 × 80 cm
“The wholly modern close relationship between painting and architecture … makes every work ‘a block of atmosphere solidified, condensed and subjected to an incessant dynamism of light and space’. Just as painting dispenses with the laws of the atmosphere in order to find expression, ‘architecture also opens up to the suasion of light and space, no longer a feeling of enclosure but openness, space in space and light in light. The levels unravel, the orders are decomposed and recomposed. Everything shifts and readjusts, rejoins and melds, restored to the human scale, geared to human requirements, the return to an ideal garden, the primal Eden so sadly violated by human covetousness.’ The religiosity of the human feeling begun and completed in a fruitful parabola by the painting of family attachments, quiet rooms, the neighbourhood and the constant relationship between nature and creation also returns at regular intervals to clarify the emotions that give birth to artistic impulses and thoughts, the identity of the image in terms of form and colour, the freedom of colour now able to create form in light.”[Giuseppe Appella, ‘Ferrara, Genova, Roma: Percorsi formativi di Melli’, in Roberto Melli 1885-1958, ed. G. Appella and Maurizio Calvesi, exh. cat. (Macerata, Palazzo Ricci, 13 June – 15 October 1992), Leonardo De Luca, Rome, 1992, pp. 14–15]

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Art

 Renato Guttuso, Mario Mafai, Fausto Pirandello and Alberto Ziveri are among the artists taking part in the X Mostra del Sindacato Interprovinciale fascista Belle Arti del Lazio in Rome.

Art

 'Badodi’, Sette Giorni, anno VIII, no. 21, May 1942.

Art

 Filippo de Pisis and Fausto Pirandello take part in the XXIII Venice Biennial.

Art

 Renato Birolli holds a solo show at the Galleria della Spiga in Milan.

Art

 Albino Galvano, Enrico Paulucci, Edizioni di Documento, Rome, 1942.

ENNIO MORLOTTI
Natura morta con bucranio, 1942
oil on canvas
h. 46 × 60 cm
“There is no scream in his canvases but rather the harrowing silence of afterwards. This is the key to penetrate the intent mystery of the still lifes painted as from 1942 … grim objects that have lost the clarity of Morandi to display their agitated presence as earthy concretions. But the influence of Picasso asserts itself forcibly to distort the pattern of reality into a painful grid, which rises in the Natura morta con bucranio of 1943 over the alarming red of a flag ... A prelude to the transformation of Cubism into open linguistic revolt that Morlotti was to complete after the war.”[Marina Pizziolo, ‘Dobbiamo parlare agli uomini le parole della vita’, in Corrente. Le parole della vita. Opere 1930-1945, ed. M. Pizziolo, exh. cat. (Milan, Palazzo Reale, 18 June – 7 September 2008), Milan, Skira, 2008, p. 30] 

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Art

 Bruno Cassinari and Ennio Morlotti take refuge from Fascist roundups at Mondonico in Lombardy and embark on a period of joint work that continues until 1946. 

Art

 Ottone Rosai takes part in the first show at the Galleria del Cavallino in Venice and obtains the chair in painting at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence. 

Art

 Vincenzo Costantini, ‘Corrente’, Emporium, anno XLVIII, no. 1, January 1942. 

Art

 Raffaello Franchi, Disegni di Ottone Rosai, Hoepli, Milan, 1942. 

Art

 Antonietta Raphaël obtains a space at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Rome with the help of Mino Maccari but moves back to Genoa due to financial difficulties.

EMILIO VEDOVA
Il Caffeuccio Veneziano, 1942
oil on canvas
h. 43.2 × 55 cm
“Caffeuccio veneziano [presented at the fourth Bergamo Prize in 1942 together with a still life] already looks forward to the artist’s subsequent work in the fields of abstraction and Art Informel in the immediate post-war period. Here the segmented sign combines the almost caricatural distortion of figures drawn from German expressionism with the satire of Daumier’s paintings and drawings.”[Marco Lorandi, description of the work in Gli anni del Premio Bergamo. Arte in Italia intorno agli anni Trenta, Marco Lorandi et al., exh. cat. (Bergamo, Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea e Accademia di Carrara, 25 September 1993 – 9 January 1994), Electa, Milan, 1993, p. 233]

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Art

 Mino Rosi, ‘Prefazione a Renato Guttuso’, Il Campano, no. 1-2, January-February, 1942.

Art

 Exhibition of the Rino Valdameri Collection at the Galleria di Roma with works by Filippo de Pisis, Mario Mafai, Fausto Pirandello, Ottone Rosai and Scipione. 

Art

 Arnaldo Badodi is called up and sent to the Russian front, where he is taken prisoner and dies the following year in a POW camp near Moscow.

1943

Art

 Mario Mafai and Antonietta Raphaël leave Genoa with their daughters and return to Rome. 

Art

 Gio Ponti invites artists including Giorgio de Chirico, Achille Funi, Filippo de Pisis, Pompeo Borra, Aligi Sassu and Francesco De Rocchi to work on the decoration of a newly built villa at Cervignano d’Adda (Lodi). 

Art

Ennio Morlotti redige con Ernesto Treccani il Primo Manifestodi Pittori e scultori. 

Art

 Filippo de Pisis, Renato Guttuso, Mario Mafai, Francesco Menzio, Fausto Pirandello, Ottone Rosai, Emilio Vedova and Alberto Ziveri take part in the IV Rome Quadrennial.

Art

 Filippo De Pisis moves to Venice after the bombing of Milan and remains there until 1948.

History

 Badoglio announces the armistice and abandons Rome together with the royal family.

Art

 Show of work by Mario Mafai and Scipione at the Galleria Il Ponte in Florence. 

History

 Victor Emanuel II informs Mussolini of his destitution at the Villa Savoia. The Duce is arrested and the country is placed under the military government of Marshal Pietro Badoglio.

History

 German parachutists free Mussolini from imprisonment on the Gran Sasso mountain. Birth of the Fascist Republic of Salò, recognized and protected by Germany. 

Art

 Renato Guttuso leaves Rome to play an active part in the Resistance for two years.

History

 American, British and Canadian allied forces land in Sicily

Art

 Show of work by Renato Guttuso at the Galleria dello Zodiaco in Rome in collaboration with the Galleria della Spiga. Work by Renato Guttuso, Mario Mafai, Fausto Pirandello, Emilio Vedova and Scipione is also shown at the Zodiaco in the exhibition Undici pittori romani. The same year sees a show of Mafai and Manzù with a presentation by Alberto Moravia.

Art

 Ottone Rosai shows work at the Galleria Cairola in Milan. He is attacked and insulted by a group of anti-fascists during the same year.

Art

 Italo Valenti refuses to continue teaching after the institution of the Fascist Republic of Salò and takes refuge at Porcia in the Veneto region.

Art

 Mafai (in the series Quaderni del Disegno Contemporaneo), Edizioni della Galleria della Spiga e Corrente, Milan 1943, with a preface by Antonino Santangelo.

Art

 Show of work by Bruno Cassinari, Ernesto Treccani and Ennio Morlotti at the Nuova Galleria della Spiga e Corrente in Milan.

1944

Art

 Work by Filippo de Pisis, Mario Mafai, Renato Guttuso, Fausto Pirandello, Ottone Rosai and Scipione is shown in the Esposizione d'Arte Contemporaneo. Exhibition of Contemporary Italian Art at the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna in Rome.

Art

 Renato Guttuso starts work on his anti-Fascist and anti-Nazi painting Gott mit uns (1944–45).

Art

 Giuseppe Montanari, ‘Le sculture di Broggini, Cronaca Prealpina, 5 November 1944.

Art

 Alessandro Parronchi, Nomi della pittura italiana contemporanea, Edizioni Arnaud, Florence, 1944.

Art

 Mario Mafai leaves for Naples, where he is elected vice president of the organizing committee of the Libera Associazione delle Arti Figurative. The president of the association is Gino Severini and the members include Giuseppe Capogrossi, Renato Guttuso, Mirko, Toti Scialoja and Alberto Ziveri. 

History

 The Allies enter Rome.

Art

 Alfonso Gatto, Luigi Broggini, II ed., Edizioni del Milione, Milan, 1944. 

Art

 Giuseppe Marchiori, Disegni di Scipione, Istituto Italiano d’Arti Grafiche, Bergamo, 1944.

Art

 Work by Mario Mafai, Fausto Pirandello, Ottone Rosai and Scipione is shown in 25 Artisti del Secolo at the Galleria del Secolo in Rome.

History

 Antonietta Raphaël returns to Genoa.

Art

 Ottone Rosai explains his activities during the Fascist regime and gradual detachment to the president of the national liberation committee. He is suspended from his teaching post at the academy.

Art

 A reading of Carlo Levi’s text Paura della pittura (written in July 1942) is broadcast by Radio Firenze.

Art

 Luigi Broggini takes part in the Esposizione d’arte contemporanea at the Galleria Nazionale d’arte moderna.

1945

History

 Mussolini is caught by partisans after fleeing to Como and executed in Piazzale Loreto, Milan.

Literature

 Publication of the book Cristo si è fermato a Eboli, written by Carlo Levi during his wartime period of clandestine activities in Florence. 

Art

 Work by Renato Birolli, Filippo de Pisis, Renato Guttuso, Roberto Melli, Fausto Pirandello and Ottone Rosai is shown in the exhibition Artisti Moderni alla Galleria del Secolo in Rome. 

Art

 Emilio Vedova shows work at the Galleria Venezia and later at the Galleria del Pioppo in Mantua. 

Art

 Bruno Cassinari and Ennio Morlotti design a poster for the International Workers’ Day.

Art

L. Anceschi (a cura di), Migneco. Dodici tavole in nero a otto colori, Galleria Santa Radegonda, Milano 1945. 

Art

Roberto Melli starts teaching at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Rome.

Art

 Mario Mafai holds shows at the Galleria dell’Arco in Venice as well as the Secolo and the Zodiaco in Rome.

Art

 Mario Mafai, ‘Possibilità per un’arte nuova’, Rinascita, no. 3, March 1945.

Art

 Umbro Apollonio presents work by Scipione at the Galleria del Cavallino in Venice.

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