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Giacomo Balla (1871-1958)

Italian Futurist painter, sculptor and designer. Born in Turin, son of a chemist and amateur photographer. Largely self-taught as an artist, except for studying at evening classes and for two months at the Albertina Academy. Moved in 1895 to Rome where he spent most of his life. His early works were portraits, landscapes and caricatures, partly influenced by the Italian Divisionists, whose humanitarian socialist theories he shared. Visited Paris 1900-1 and on return taught both Severini and Boccioni. Became increasingly interested in painting aspects of modern industrialised life. Signed the Technical Manifesto of Futurist Painting in 1910, but took no active part in the movement until 1912. Then rapidly became one of the most original and inventive of the Futurist painters, exploring plastic equivalents for motion, in which he adopted the serial images of cinephotography, and the dynamic expression of velocity in machine forms. After the war assumed leadership of the movement, whose centre shifted from Milan to Rome. First one-man exhibition at the Casa d'Arte Bragaglia, Rome, 1918. From 1931 reverted to an Impressionist-figurative style. Died in Rome.

Giacomo Balla
Abstract Speed
The Car Has Passed
1913

 

Giacomo Balla
Speed of a Motorcycle
1913

Giorgio De Chirico (1888-1978)

Italian painter, sculptor, theatrical designer and writer born at Volo in Greece, of Italian parents. Studied drawing and painting at the Athens Polytechnic 1903-6 and for eighteen months at the Munich Academy, where he discovered the work of Böcklin. Moved to Italy in 1908. In Paris 1911-15 met Apollinaire, Picasso and others, and painted a highly influential group of paintings evoking dream-like architectural visions of Italy. Further developed this style, known as Metaphysical painting, at Ferrara 1915-18. Began in 1918 in Rome to make a close study of the paintings and techniques of the Old Masters. First one-man exhibition at the Casa d'Arte Bragaglia, Rome, 1919. Again from 1925-31 in Paris where the Surrealists, who admired his early paintings, attacked him for his adoption of a more traditional style (portraits, still lifes, horses by the sea, etc.). Spent the 1930s partly in Italy, partly in Paris and New York, then settled in 1943 in Rome. Designed sets and costumes for various ballets and operas, and made a number of small sculptures, mainly from 1968 onwards; his writings included a poetic novel "Hebdomeros" 1929 and an autobiography "Memorie della mia Vita" 1945. Died in Rome.

Giorgio De Chirico
Andromache
oil on panel
1916

Giorgio De Chirico
L'enigma di un giorno
(L'énigme d'une journée)
oil on canvas
1914
New York, MOMA

Giorgio Morandi (1890-1964)

Giorgio Morandi was born on 20th July, 1890 in Bologna, where he attended the "Accademia di Belle Arti", graduating in 1913. There he met Osvaldo Licini, Severo Pozzati, Giacomo Vespignani and Mario Bacchelli, the artist-friends with whom he exhibited in 1914, at the now-legendary exhibition in the Hotel Baglioni in Bologna. This was when Morandi first established contacts with the group of Futurists with whom he was to exhibit his work that same year at the Sprovieri Gallery in Rome. He was not highly committed to Futurism, nor did he become very involved in other Italian movements ("Metafisica", "Valori Plastici", "Strapaese", "Novecento") of the first half of the twentieth century. He studied the great masters from Giotto to Piero della Francesca and on to Chardin, Corot and Cézanne. His works were included in some of the "Biennale" exhibitions in Venice, and in the Roman "Quadriennale" exhibitions. He exhibited too in various cities in Italy and abroad (Pittsburgh, Kassel, San Paolo in Brazil, New York). From 1930, he taught Engraving at the "Accademia di Belle Arti" in Bologna and it was during these years that he carried out most of his etchings. It was only in later life that he devoted his time consistently to watercolour after some rare and sporadic attempts during the first decade of the century and in the thirties.
He won numerous prizes and official awards both in Italy and abroad. In March 1932, a whole issue of "L'ltaliano" was dedicated to Morandi and his work with an important text by Soffici and a large number of reproductions. This put the final seal on his fame which was confirmed and recognized by the critics in the years to follow. This image has never since been questioned. Morandi died in Bologna in 1964. The important anthological exhibitions and numerous initiatives organized in Italy and abroad by the Morandi Archives, now Museo Morandi, belonging to the Town Council of Bologna, have all contributed towards promoting a greater understanding of the artist and his personality. Morandi is now unanimously acclaimed as one of the twentieth century masters.

Giorgio Morandi
Still Life
Oil on canvas
1946

 

Giorgio Morandi
Still Life (The Blue Vase)
Oil on canvas
1920

Alberto Burri (1915-1995)

Italian abstract painter, born in Città di Castello. Studied medicine with the intention of working in Africa. During the war, served in Africa as a military doctor. Taken prisoner in 1943, was sent to a camp in Hereford, Texas, where he began to paint. On return to Italy in 1945, decided to become a painter and moved to Rome. First one-man exhibition there, at the Galleria La Margherita, 1947. Adopted an abstract style in 1948 and in 1949 spent some months in Paris. Began in 1949-50 to incorporate sacking in his pictures, followed in the later 1950s by wood, iron and plastic. The patched and scarred appearance of his pictures, and their textural contrasts, were sometimes heightened from 1955 by burning some areas (combustione). Participated in the group Origine with Capogrossi, Ballocco and Colla 1950-2. Awarded the Grand Prix jointly with Vasarely at the 1965 Sao Paulo Bienal. His works of the 1970s include paintings with a network of cracks, and pictures incorporating cellotex.

Alberto Burri
Sacco 5 P
1953

 

Alberto Burri
Sestante 2
1982

Lucio Fontana (1899-1968)

Italian painter, sculptor and ceramist, the founder of the Spazialismo movement. Born in Rosario de Santa Fé, in the Argentine, son of the Milanese sculptor Luigi Fontana and an Argentinian mother. Lived in Italy 1905-22, then again in Rosario de Santa Fé, where he opened a sculpture studio. Returned to Italy in 1928, settling in Milan and studying sculpture at the Brera Academy 1928-30. First one-man exhibition at the Galleria del Milione, Milan, 1930. Began to make abstract sculptures and ceramics and became with Licini, Melotti and others a leading figure in the Italian abstract movement. Joined the group Abstraction-Création 1935. Spent 1939-47 in the Argentine, working part of the time in a figurative style, but in 1946 helped to found the avant-garde Altainira Academy at Buenos Aires, his ideas about the need for new art to express the modern world as revealed by science leading to the publication of the Manifiesto Blanco. Returned to Milan in 1947 and shortly afterwards issued the first Manifesto Spaziale. The Spazialismo movement founded by him was joined by Capogrossi, Crippa, Dova, Peverelli and other young artists. Made abstract paintings with Baroque arabesques of punched holes or fragments of coloured glass, and later with vertical cuts; spent the summers at Albisola Marina making ceramics. Carried out various decorative projects for buildings, including ceilings using neon. Died at Comabbio (Varese), shortly after moving there from Milan.

Lucio Fontana
Concetto Spaziale
Oil on canvas
1959-60

 

Lucio Fontana
Concetto Spaziale
1964

Giacomo Manzù (1908-1991)

Italian sculptor, etcher, lithographer and painter. Born at Bergamo. At the age of eleven apprenticed to a wood-carver, then to a gilder and a stucco-worker; began to draw, paint and model in his spare time. Called to Verona in 1928 to do his military service; impressed by Romanesque sculpture and occasionally attended the Cignaroli Academy. Moved in 1928 to Milan. His early sculptures inspired partly by Egyptian and Etruscan art, then started 1933-4 to make female portrait studies influenced by Rosso, which marked the beginning of his mature style. First one-man exhibition at the Galleria Cometa, Rome, 1937. Taught at the Turin Academy 1940-3 and the Brera Academy in Milan 1943-54; afterwards at the International Summer Academy in Salzburg 1954-60. Awarded First Prize at the Rome Quadriennale 1942, the City of Venice prize for an Italian sculptor at the Venice Biennale 1948, the Lenin Prize 1966. In addition to portrait heads, nude figures, seated cardinals, etc., his sculptures include portals with reliefs of religious subjects for Salzburg Cathedral 1957-8 and for St Peter's in the Vatican 1962-4 (the latter after many years of preliminary studies). Has lived since 1964 near Ardea in the neighbourhood of Rome.

Giacomo Manzù
Ragazza seduta
(Bambina sulla sedia)
bronzo e antimonio
1948

 

Giacomo Manzù
Francesca Blanc
bronze
1942

Renato Guttuso (1912-1987)

Italian painter and polemicist, the leader of the social realist group in Italy. Born in Bagheria, near Palermo (Sicily). Abandoned law studies in 1931, to devote himself to painting. In Rome 1933-4 associated with Cagli, Mafai, Fazzini and others who were reacting against Novecento neoclassicism, then lived 1935-6 in Milan in contact with Birolli, Fontana and Persico. Settled in Rome 1937. Painted the 'Flight from Etna', his first large realist composition of contemporary Italian life, 1937-8. First one-man exhibition at the Galleria Cometa, Rome, 1938. Took an active part in the struggle against the Fascists and Nazis and made a series of bitterly anti-Nazi drawings 'Gott mit Uns'. In 1946 with Birolli, Vedova, Morlotti, Turcato and others formed the group Fronte Nuovo delle Arti. Made frequent visits to Paris to study modern French art and for a time was influenced by Picasso. Many of his works have been inspired by the poverty and struggles of the Sicilian peasantry. His later works also include large paintings of the student riots in Paris in May 1968, the funeral of the Italian Communist leader Togliatti etc., and a series of autobiographical canvases painted in 1965-6.

Renato Guttuso
The Discussion
1959-60

 

Renato Guttuso
Self-Portrait
oil on canvas
1936

Emilio Greco (1913-1995)

Italian sculptor and draughtsman, mainly of female nudes and portrait busts. Born in Catania, Sicily. At the age of thirteen entered the workshop of a stone mason, learning to carve crosses and figures for cemeteries; also began making sculpture on his own account and studied briefly at the Palermo Academy 1934. Settled in 1943 in Rome and had his first one-man exhibition at the Galleria Il Cortile there in 1946. Professor of sculpture at the Liceo Artistico, Rome, 1948-52, at the Carrara Academy 1952-5, the Naples Academy 1955-67 and from 1966 at the Academy in Rome. Won the competition for the design of the monument to Pinocchio in Collodi 1953 and the City of Venice sculpture prize at the 1956 Venice Biennale. His monumental works also include three new bronze doors for Orvieto Cathedral 1959-64 and a monument to Pope John XXIII for St Peter's in the Vatican 1965-6.

Emilio Greco
Portrait of
Maria Baldassarre
bronze
1967

 

Emilio Greco
Memoria dell'estate
bronze
1979

Enrico Baj, born 1924

Italian painter, printmaker and writer on art. Born in Milan. Studied part-time at the Brera Academy and then took a law degree. Began to paint again 1946-7, soon developing an abstract tachiste style with linear signs. Founded the Nuclear Art Movement with Sergio Dangelo in 1951 and in the following years sought to establish contacts with avant-garde artists in other countries. First one-man exhibition with Dangelo at the Galleria San Fedele, Milan, 1951. Joined Jorn's Mouvement International pour une Bauhaus Imaginiste in 1954 and with him organised the International Centre for Ceramics at Albisola Marina. Developed a more figurative style with humorous caricature-like personages and from 1955 began to make use of collage (cotton, mattresses, glass, etc.), both alone and with oil paints. Contacts with Fontana, Manzoni, Klein and from 1960 with the French Nouveaux Realistes. Series of humorously ironic paintings of generals, 'decorated persons', furniture, etc. and modifications of other artists' paintings. In 1962 met André Breton, who included an essay on him in the third edition of Le Surréalisme et la Peinture. Lives in Milan.

Enrico Baj
The man
with the big nose
Acryl and Collage
on Canvas applied
on Table
1974

 

Enrico Baj
glove

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