This is the first such large-scale exhibition of 20th century Italian art ever shown in Russia and it includes "metaphysical painting," neo-Classicism, Surrealism and neo-Realism. More than 80 paintings show the evolution of Italian art during one of the most important and contradictory periods in the country's history.The exhibition of paintings in the Nicholas Hall is complemented by three sculptures by Martini (Portrait of an Imagined Chekhov) and Marini, as well as by Massimo Campigli's painting Seamstresses (1925) and Giorgio Morandi's Metaphysical Still Life (1918) from the collection of the State Hermitage.
This is the first time that the Hermitage is exhibiting the art of Futurism. The movement's manifesto was set forth by Marinetti in 1909. The exhibition opens with paintings by Umberto Boccioni: The Workshops at Porto Romano (1909) and Woman in a Café (Interpenetration of Light and Plans). Works by Giacomo Balla, Fortunato Depero, Enrico Prampolini and Carlo Carrà are also displayed.
Opposition to Futurism led to the rise of "metaphysical painting" with figures and objects seemingly frozen in time. Giorgio De Chirico's street, Carlo Carrà and Giorgio Morandi's still lifes signified a return to order, regularity and harmony in the compositional structure of Italian Classicism. The monumental compositions of Massimo Campigli and Severini's stagings of masquerades, the canvasses of Funi and Olpi all follow from the lessons of the Renaissance. Several paintings by Giorgio Morandi form a small exhibition within the exhibition that has a mood all to itself.
It may seem strange that many of the achievements of 20th century Italian art came during the period of Fascism. However, Italian Fascism was rather different from other dictatorial regimes in the area of culture. Different artistic styles were allowed to exist. The Novecento, which was rather close to Realism, lived in close proximity to Futurism and even to complete Abstractionism. The portrait of Mussolini made by Renato Bertelli in 1933 could only have happened in Italy.
The Novecento (20th century in Italian) or Italian Novecento as the members of the movement called themselves, included Carrà, Campigli, Casorati, De Pisis, Martini, and Sironi. They spoke out against Futurism in the 1920's and proclaimed a move to "national art," taking its inspiration in the Renaissance and Classicism. Marini's sculpture The Boxer, Carrà's painting The Swimmers (1932), Morandi, and the early work of Guttuso such as Figure at a Table (1942) are all examples of this movement.
Surrealism produced such outstanding masters as Alberto Savinio, who profoundly influenced literature and music. In the field of painting, he used motifs from the art of his brother Giorgio De Chirico and from antique mythology to create vivid imaginary metamorphoses.y to paint imaginary beautifyto paint imaginary beathicher close to Realism, could display.
After the Second World War, Abstractionist painters like Lucio Fontana, Alberto Buri and Piero Manzoni came to the fore. Fontana considered his main task to overcome the traditional concepts in art. In turn, Social Realism, which is often called neo-Realism, arose in opposition to Abstractionism. One of its bright exponents was Renato Guttuso, and two of his early paintings are on display: they expand our understanding of this master and reveal the context for mid-20th century Italian culture in all its complexity.
On 8-9 February, a scholarly conference devoted to 20th century Italian art will take place in the Hermitage Theatre.
Futurism. The Novecento. Abstraction.
Italian Art of the 20th century
St. Petersburg, Russia