Italia 1920 - 1945
The Triennale di Milano and Giuseppe Iannaccone are pleased to announce Italy 1920 to 1945. A new figuration and narrative of the self, an exhibition curated by Alberto Salvadori and Rischa Paterlini – curator of Collezione Giuseppe Iannaccone. The exhibition is promoted by Milan Triennale Foundation and Giuseppe Iannaccone, and is part of the Visual Arts program of the Trienniale, directed by Edoardo Bonaspetti.
The exhibition, open to the public from 1 February until 19 March 2017 will unveil, for the first time, a selection of 96 works dating between 1920 and 1945 from the Giuseppe Iannaccone private collection. These chosen works were acquired and personally selected by the collector from 1992 (the year of his first purchase) until 30 November 2016.
Giuseppe Iannaccone began to collect art, out of passion and curiosity, during the late eighties. Within the realms of art, he was able to find an intimate and personal refuge, a soulful place where he alone could find comfort and support, far from daily life. His interests were immediately drawn towards Italian art between the wars. He was captivated by the ability of artists who were “not in allegiance”, distant from twentieth century canons and the return to order, artists who seized the depth of the human soul in all its facets. The artists – Birolli, Guttuso, Mafai, Pirandello, Scipione, Vedova – and their works, became close allies, their biographies along with their personal and professional lives became the stimulus for continuous study and research. This exploration endeavored to rebuild a previously unknown path in the official history of art, but without any expectation of completing the task. Over the years, Giuseppe Iannaccone developed significant relationships with influential figures, such as Elena Pontiggia, Claudia Gian Ferrari and Zeno Birolli, who further increased his conviction in following his own instincts. He did not search for prominent names to add to his collection, instead, he sought artists, whose great works reflected humanity. Mr. Iannaccone believes that a work of art is something sublime, something that feeds the spirit and abstracts the spectator, leading to contemplation, offering a timeless emotion. Over time, the collection has grown, giving no importance to a precise historical-chronological order but entrusted to a refined taste and to an increasingly qualified knowledge, which is far from current trends. It is also, free from the responsibility and didactic constraints to which public museums would have to adhere, if they were to represent the period between the two wars. Nor is the collection concerned with the market, often unearthing decisive works by artists that due to their pictorial quality and date have broken the grounds to a new way of painting, marking a point of significant change.
The exhibition opens with Ottone Rosai’s, L’Attesa, 1920. Following the fall of the futuristic urban myth of the ‘city that rises’, Rosai turns to an archaism of the form, of Masaccio legacy, reinterpreted in Cézanne’s volumetric simplification. The artist portrays working class areas, inhabited by people whose physiognomic realism is sublimated, starting with the very nature of the subject and then proceeds to investigate the interior and spiritual substance, pictorially.
The exhibition is organized thematically, grouping works by artists that gravitated towards the same schools or movements or had simply shared significant experiences and common awarenesses.
The exhibition itinerary begins with the Scuola di via Cavour – one of the many groups created between 1925 and 1945 in opposition to the 'return to order' promoted by Margherita Sarfatti’s group “Novecento Italiano”. The “Scuola di via Cavour” rejected abstraction and littoral heroism and brought man back to the centre of its research, man who had been cancelled out by the post metaphysical mannequin or during the twentieth century monumental classicism ‘race myth’. The exhibited works of Mario Mafai, Antonietta Raphaël and Scipione, true advocates of the group, are linked by a common language. A language in opposition to official conformism, a predominately expressionist language that soon evolved among the tonalist painting of artists such as Fausto Pirandello, Renato Guttuso and Alberto Ziveri, companions of the “Scuola di Cavour” artists, alongside the original protagonists of the pictorial renewal, occurring between the two wars. From the second half of the twenties, research into essential chromatic drafts would be overtaken by the three artists, each applying their own inclination and sensitivity, a more direct and intense work of unearthing the real.
The itinerary continues with a piece by Tullio Garbari, 1931, which then leads to a selection of works by the Sei di Torino – Jessie Boswell, Gigi Chessa, Nicola Galante, Carlo Levi, Francesco Menzio – a group formed during the late twenties at Felice Casorati’s studio. The sources and the visual predilections, shared by the six, drives the group towards a pictorial modernity with a European air, above all French with simple and essential compositional schemes but with both a light and lively note, anti-monumental, and intimate signifying a definitive distance from the rhetoric of the art regime. The subjects portrayed reveal the artists’ preference for everyday life and their fond surroundings, and is strongly reflected in the urban and natural landscapes through which the Turin painters restored a genre, at the time considered marginal, in that the figures and the nudes are represented from an antiheroic angle, open to the evolution of life. The same post-impressionist position affirmed by the Sei di Torino was embraced by Chiaristi lombardi, a group of artists who gravitated around the Milione gallery in Milan: Angelo Del Bon, Francesco De Rocchi, Umberto Lilloni, along with Adriano di Spilimbergo and, later, Cristoforo De Amicis defending a common pictorial tendency to employ light colours, with an array of delicate shades, using the tip of the brush for landscapes or petty bourgeois and common settings with an almost infantile and deliberately antiplastic, mindful of the primitivism theorized by Leonello Venturi in his homonymous essay in 1926.
An entire hall dedicated to the works of Renato Birolli is the next turning point, which preludes the experience of Corrente, the fortnightly magazine founded in Milan by the then seventeen-year-old Ernesto Treccani in January 1938, on the threshold of the Second World War. From this periodical, came the eponymous artistic and intellectual movement of poets and writers (Nino Savarese, Vittorio Sereni, Elio Vittorini), critics (Sandro Bini, Raffaele De Grada, Umberto Silva) and philosopher (Luciano Anceschi, Enzo Paci, Luigi Preti). Corrente was a space for discussion and debate, where a common awareness of freedom and cultural action was sensitive to the most up to date contemporary European artistic cultures, and was against to the autocracy and the isolation of the fascist nationalist cultural policies.
Opposed to the rhetorical and celebratory painting promoted by the Premio Cremona, established in 1939 by hierarch Roberto Farinacci, the “Corrente” group united the innovative forces of a heterogeneous group of young painters and sculptors with figurative tendencies The leading point of reference was Guernica by Pablo Picasso: 1937, inspired by the Spanish civil war, the work became a symbol of an ethical and civil form of art, which was unwaveringly antifascist. An exhibition organized by the Galleria Il Milione in 1933 preluded a climate of opposition to the regime that distinguished the group and led to the participation of Aligi Sassu, Renato Birolli, Giacomo Manzù and Luigi Grosso. In the meantime, also Renato Guttuso forged an intense relationship with Milan, and was then followed by a group of Sicilian painters, again hosted by the Galleria Il Milione. Three years later the group expanded, with the joining of Giuseppe Migneco, Arnaldo Badodi and Italo Valenti. After 1940, also Bruno Cassinari and Ennio Morlotti became part of the movement, shortly followed by Emilio Vedova. In June of 1940 the magazine was abolished by the fascist authorities but Corrente continued his activity as an exhibition space (Corrine’s “la Bottega degli Artisti “in via della Spiga 9, Milan), chaired by Duilio Morosini, sustained and promoted by the Sorrentino collector, (but resident Genovese) Alberto Della Ragione.
The itinerary continues with focus on Filippo De Pisis who similar to Rosai, was far from the official artistic canons. De Pisis launched his artistic journey in his native town of Ferrara, where he met brothers De Chirico and Carlo Carrà, and was influenced by the enigmatic and intense suspense of their painting. On moving to Rome, he initially followed his literary inclination, but new pictorial stimulus had a powerful influence on him during his stay (when he decided to become a painter), the experience becoming even more intense following his move to Paris in 1925. Here, he developed a personal and modern style, where original visual suggestions merged with the great Italian colorist tradition, impressionist painting and the palette of Soutine, Matisse and Fauves. This was in addition to lessons from Turner (experienced directly during his visits to London in the thirties). De Pisis’s preferred subjects were dead flowers and nature, he was able to instantly transfer the emotions that those objects gave to him, even the most humble and fragile, in which he entrusted his life and intimate existentialist vision of reality. On his return to Italy, due to the war, De Pisis settled in Milan: his home, just as his previous homes in Rome and Paris, became a meeting point for friends, poets, writers and painters. During this period, De Pisis created his portrayals of intimate and domestic scenes, by definition, permeated by a mysterious sensuality, swarming Milanese landscapes and the dead nature brimming with dark omens.
The exhibition concludes with the “stifling atmosphere” of Emilio Vedova’s Caffeuccio. The artist was overwhelmed by a rage that soon led to his participation in the Resistance, marking a point of no return. The painting, shown at the last Premio Bergamo exhibition, was viewed by the young members of the group "Corrente" as a truly anticlassical detonator: It was not possible to create a new, “modern” style of painting, during wartimes, without forsaking the trending style of the previous twenty years.
The volume Italy 1920-1945. A new figuration and narrative of the self,is an ample, well thought out catalogue, published by Skira, accompanies the exhibition and is dedicated to the part of the Giuseppe Iannaccone Collection regarding works created from 1920 to 1945 and acquired by the collector until 30 November 2016.
The volume provides interesting and sometimes unusual details of each piece, thanks to the wide collection of scientific records, which were created from the very beginning of the collection in 1992. The first part of the book – with a preface written by Giuseppe Iannaccone, an interview by Alberto Salvadori with the collector and an essay written by Rischa Paterlini, curator of the collection– is dedicated, to the collector’s personal vision of the history of art which has produced the most sincere account possible of the life and of the choices which have characterized this collection. Flavio Fergonzi then introduces to this historical glimpse of the twenty-five year period of this collection an essay which introduces and analyzes twelve crucial themes for Italian art; this follow with essays by Fabio Benzi, Giorgina Bertolino, Paola Bonani, Fabrizio D’Amico, Lorella Giudici, Mattia Patti, Elena Pontiggia and
Carlo Sisi, scholars who read and studied the collection, analyzing the cultural, historical and artistic events of the years from 1920 to 1945 in great detail. Records of the works, in alphabetical order, are included in the volume, alongside essays which tell the story of how the works became part of the collection or describes the relationship between the collector and the artists and with those who were fundamental during the creation of the collection. Then follows a section, made up of a summary of the works including all necessary technical data used to create a historical scientific reconstruction; from a historical-critical chronology, for the period 1920–1945, in which all events relating to Italian social and political history, biographical data, exhibitions, awards and publications regarding the artists of the collection and a critical anthology for each work; from a summary of exhibitions, in order of the date when the works participated in exhibitions; up to a bibliography, in alphabetical order by author, collecting, in addition to the volumes, daily news, periodicals and the exhibition catalogues.
During the period of public opening, the itinerary will be enriched by a series of activities, offering the visitors interesting opportunities to learn more about works and the exhibition.
A cycle of round table events will be held with the contributing authors of the catalogue alongside prominent scholars of the history of art specialized in the period of the two wars. The events will be organized by appointment, every Tuesday at 18:30. The first event will focus on the “Collector”, during which there will be also be a presentation of the volume, published by Skira and released in conjunction with the exhibition.
Furthermore, there will be a series of programmed events and guided tours for university students in addition to the usual educational activities organized and coordinated by the Triennale Education department.
Lastly, a docu-film, which explains the different aspects of the artistic period between the wars, will be projected.
The exhibition Italy 1920-1945. A new figuration and narrative of the self was created under the patronage of the Ministry of heritage and tourism and cultural activity, Regione Lombardia, of Milan City Council and Milan chamber of commerce; with the support of Fondazione Credito Bergamasco, Lamborghini Milano; sponsored by AXA Art, Cassina and Open Care. Media partner Artshell and Marie Claire Maison. Catalogue Skira. Thanks toTenuta Sarno 1860.