Wednesday, January 22, 2014



Room 14 - To Paris

In the second half of the nineteenth century many Italian painters went to Paris to be updated on the new artistic trends. The French capital had taken the place of the Italian peninsula that still at the end of the previous century was the powerful engine and inspiring place of European artistic life
Pastel on paper “Portrait of Giuseppe Verdi” 1886 by Giovanni Boldini (1842/1931)
Executed during the Verdi's stay in Paris for a performance of Otello. It is the second of the two portraits Boldini painted of Verdi of whom he was a great admirer. The first is an oil painting now in the Retirement Home for Musicians in Milan but it did not satisfy Boldini
This image was printed on the banknote for one-thousand liras from 1969 to 1981
“This second portrait, the result of a short posing session, satisfied Boldini. Verdi arrived in the studio alone, cold, with a vibrant and intense gaze, appearing in fact to the painter in a less official way but with far greater expressive intensity. Boldini in just three hours fixed his features and, one might almost say, his personality, providing a reading of the character, from which a melancholic fragility seems to emerge” (Anna Villari)
“Le Cabanon de Jourdan” 1906 by Paul Cézanne (1839/1906), the only one of his paintings to be present in an Italian public collection
“The painting is very plausibly the one the artist was working on in the fall of 1906, shortly before his death on October 15 while painting near Aix-en-Provence. (...) It exemplifies well the late activity of Cézanne. (...) Like the Impressionists Cezanne also frees his brushwork from descriptive obligations, but he charges it of the task of giving greater consistency to the objects. The boundary line is gone, the figures aren't anymore defined by drawings, it is the color that builds them with brushstrokes that look like cards or scales. He seems to handle everything with the same attention: a stretch of water, sky or the ground is no less important than a pretty face or a hand and it is no less 'formed' than them” (Elena di Majo)
“Poachers in the Snow” 1867 by Gustave Courbet (1819/77)
“He studied in depth the varied effects of light on the white snow. (...) He worked hard to replicate the atmospheric and spacial depth of the sky and of the snowy slope where the silhouettes of hunters and dogs stand out with their colored shadows” (Elena di Majo)
“Woman on Sand” 1874/75 and “The Little English Girl” 1879/80 by Giuseppe De Nittis (1846/84)
“De Nittis moved to Paris in 1874 and participated in the first Impressionist exhibition. He received a considerable success with urban landscapes and paintings done on typical themes of modern life, formally characterized by a moderate combination of Impressionism with the easy style of a painting of workshop commercial and very popular” (Carlo Bertelli, Giuliano Briganti, Antonio Giuliano)
“Pink Water Lilies” 1897/98 by Claude Monet (1840/1926), the most radical Impressionist painter of all. He painted his countless Water Lilies from 1909 onwards
“Little Home at Montmartre” 1879/88 by Federico Zandomeneghi (1841/1917)
Sculptures “Horse trotting” 1885/86 (cast 1919) and “Dancer with Tambourine” about 1885 (cast 1919), painting “After the Bath” about 1886 by Edgar Degas (1834/1917)
“Subject typical of the eighties of the series of 'Naked Bodies', similar to bathers by Renoir, After the Bath is a particularly significant example of the French master's studies on the movement of the body of the models surprised by the observation of the artist in intimate and unusual acts. It is executed with the fast pastel technique with frays color with light effects, and therefore impressionistic, to accentuate the deforming position of the figure that bends on itself after the ablutions” (Mario Ursino)
Bronze bust “Sculptor Dalou” about 1883 and bronze sculptures “The Age of  Bronze” 1875/76 and “Dancer Girl” about 1910 by Auguste Rodin (1840/1917)
“Rodin for the Age of Bronze took as a model a young French soldier, with whom he was experimenting different body positions until he would find one more in harmony with nature and therefore independent of a particular subject. The title was then given after the completion of the work which, for its extraordinary naturalness, caused at its appearance some accusations of having been modeled directly from life” (Elena di Majo)
Fifteen sculptures by Medardo Rosso (1858/1928) in the center of the room:
“Bookmaker” 1894 (copy made in the years 1895/1901)
“Portrait of Henry Rouart” 1889/90 (cast 1929)
“Portrait of Madame Noblet” 1897/98 (plaster)
“The Woman Doorkeeper” 1883 (cast 1905)
“The plastic work of Medardo Rosso originated in the naturalist field - his subjects are largely naturalistic - and developed, with the knowledge of Impressionism and Rodin, as research on the possibility of giving shape and meaning to material through light. The visual language of Rosso - backed by the use of sensitive materials such as wax and gypsum - highlighted significant matches with the painting of the Impressionists, from which it differs, however, for his interest in the subject, never intended as a mere figurative pretext” (Carlo Bertelli, Giuliano Briganti, Antonio Giuliano)

Room 15 - The humanitarian utopia

The artists participating in Symbolism in Europe and in Divisionism (Pointillism) in Italy expressed in their works the social tensions of the time finding a utopian hope for improvement in socialist and positivist ideals
“The Sun” 1904 by Giuseppe Pellizza da Volpedo (1868/1907)
This work was bought by National Gallery of Modern Art in 1906 and it was comforting for the painter who had suffered a severe psychological crisis after his masterpiece “Fourth Estate”, which he completed in 1901 and on which he had worked for ten years, didn't receive the appreciation he had expected
In 1907, however, after the sudden death of his wife, he hanged himself not yet forty
“The painter of the Fourth Estate had reached the conviction that a pure landscape, of such a high degree of formal abstraction from reality, could have a social value, because even the so-called inanimate representations of nature can be particularly and socially useful to man, 'taking it from amorphous, anarchic reality, into an organic socialist reality'“ (Anna Maria Damigella)
“While recognizing that the grand spectacle 'escapes our small means of reproduction', the artist wants, with his painting, 'tighten ever nearer to imprison it in its own colored matter'. No less visionary is the dream of a bright future for humanity contained in those extraordinary spokes made of many split colors” (Maria Vittoria Marini Clarelli)
“Cycle of the living” by the immense Giacomo Balla (1871/1958):
“The figure of the beggar is caught in the church of S. Maria in Cosmedin. The horizontal and vertical lines in their rigid spatial system seem to support the man. The soft brush strokes and the light that caresses his head show the deep pity and intense sympathy with which Balla represents the subject” (Alice Orlandi)
“Painted from life during experimental treatment with electric shocks, the work is pervaded by such a silence and endless wait. The strong brightness of the equipment, like bars, gives the sense of their condition of prisoners” (Alice Orlandi)
“Balla reveal the drama of the subject from the outside: the female figure is rendered in all its drama and impact of the gesture with a lit pointillist technique” (Alice Orlandi)
“Viaticum” 1884 by Angelo Morbelli (1853/1919)
“Farmer at work” about 1909 by Umberto Boccioni (1882/1916)
“Before learning the Cubist language of Picasso, Gris, Delaunay, Léger (which happened in the second half of 1911 with his second trip to Paris), Boccioni's painting was based primarily on research of post-impressionist and pointillist type: the Italian (from Previati to Balla) and French Divisionism (Pointillism), the French and even German Impressionism, the sculpture of Medardo Rosso constitute its cultural platform. (...) The culture of Boccioni, however, was never based on one-way choices, but it was open, ready to be enriched by new and different experiences. (...) Overall his figure, which is the highest and most complete expression of Italian futurism, has a place of pride in the history of the artistic avant-garde” (Maurizio Calvesi - Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani Treccani)
“Portrait of Giovanni Cena” about 1909 by Felice Carena (1879/1966)
“The rendition of the figures painted in bright colors that fade into a dark background is typical of the early Roman period, when the artist developed the symbolic component of his training in Turin looking at the paintings of Eugène Carrière, with its evanescent forms, tending to monochrome but also to Antonio Spadini, with his use of bright and fluffy colors” (Sabrina Spinazzè)
“Lunch” about 1910 by the Austrian Albin Egger-Lienz (1868/1926)
“The journey of life” 1905 by the Austrian John Quincy Adams (1874/1933)
“Executed in Valendam, in Holland, it offers the metaphor of the 'journey of life' in the representation of genre scenes related to the world of Dutch fishers. Trained in Vienna, then in Monaco and Paris, the painter was greatly appreciated by the high society in Vienna, by which it was chosen primarily as a portraitist. In 1906 the work was entitled 'We must go to God through many sorrows'“ (Mariastella Margozzi)
“After a tiring job” 1910 by the Hungarian Döme Skuteczky (1850/1921)
“The theme of the modern industrial world is interpreted by the Hungarian painter by strong chiaroscuro contrasts in an epic dimension that exceeds happily didactic realism” (Stefania Frezzotti)
“Workers” 1905 by the Belgian painter and sculptor Constantin Meunier (1831/1915). He was responsible for the huge Monument to Labor in Brussels
“The Gardener” 1889 and “L'Arlesienne” (Portrait of Ginoux) 1890 by Vincent Van Gogh (1853/90)
The two masterpieces by Van Gogh were stolen in 1998 during an armed robbery claimed by the so-called armed phalanx. The police found themselves the paintings under the bed at the home of an accomplice
“With the Gardener Van Gogh returned to the theme of the peasant life of his first period in Neuen, but he revived it with new symbolic intent in relation to the intrinsic relationship between man and nature” (Elena di Majo)
“In the Arlesienne the two books on the table, 'La Case de l'oncle Tom' Beecher Stowe and 'Contes de Noël' by Dickens, allude to the humanitarian values of the artist that he also attributed to the woman portrayed as ethical connotations. (...) Ginoux, who had assisted him on the occasion of his violent crisis and also subject to nervous disorders herself, awoke in him feelings of empathy in the common suffering” (Stefania Frezzotti)
“Hospital” 1895 by Silvio Rotta (1853/1913)
“Withdrawing the nets” 1896 by the Spanish Joaquìn Sorolla Y Bastida (1863/1923)

Room 16 - The art of the dream

“The reaction against Positivism and Naturalism ends at the end of the nineteenth century, in an art based on ideas and symbols. The new poetic flows mainly through the exhibitions: the Salons of the Rosacroce, the Secessions of Monaco, Vienna and Berlin and the Venice Biennale, founded in 1895. In Italy Symbolism follows two main routes: the myth, represented by De Carolis and Sartorio, and the light, represented by the pointillists Segantini, Pellizza and Previati, looking for modernity beyond reality, in the spiritual and moral ideals” (GNAM Website -
Four masterpieces by Gaetano Previati (1852/1920):
Triptych “Fall of Angels” about 1913 and “The creation of light” about 1913
“The themes are consistent with his education in the context of history: they are the sacred religious allegorical themes of the Renaissance masters' paintings, but renewed by the insight that the only way to keep alive the continuity was to retrieve 'the wide brightness, the fiery poise, the sumptuous inexhaustible ardor, the deep skill' (Boccioni) of those masters” (Anna Maria Damigella)
“It brings a theme congenial to Previati's ideal inspiration and spiritualism in a composition that accentuates the monumental decorative repetition and seriality inherent to the subject. The division as a triptych is intended to highlight the central part of the bier of the dead girl and to interrupt the abnormal horizontal and the static uniform aligned figures, highlighted by the systematic application of small linear brushstrokes” (Anna Maria Damigella)
“Major exponent of Italian Divisionism (Pointillism) of late nineteenth century, as well as a theorist of the movement, Gaetano Previati engaged in a symbolist painting of strong emotions filtered through the study and admiration for the French artist Odilon Redon. His use of color applied on canvas through a filamentous technique, his fierce backlight dipping against bodies and landscapes, create a disturbing and mysterious charm” (Andrea Pomella)
“Summer on Lake Como” about 1889, “Winter in Mountain” 1898/1903, “Fog is coming up from the valley…” 1895 and “What peace in Valganna!” 1894 by Vittore Grubicy De Dragon (1851/1920)
“The Castalidi” 1905 by Adolfo De Carolis (1874/1928)
“The mythic and symbolic theme of the Castalia spring, sacred to Apollo and the Muses, expresses the comforting vision of the eternal renewal capacity of art, in the words of the inscription along the frame, as is customary among the Pre-Raphaelites. The painting testifies the profound influence of Burne-Jones in understanding myth as a means of revelation of timeless and enigmatic values, while from the formal point of view De Carolis creates a unique figurative syncretism with references to Botticelli and the idealist and symbolist painting” (Stefania Frezzotti)
“The Three Ages” 1905 by Gustav Klimt (1862/1918), absolute masterpiece of the Austrian genius, leader of the Secession style, the artistic movement that in 1897 broke away from the traditionalist Viennese Academy
“The different approaches to life are suggested by the positions of the figures and the choice to represent them on various levels of a bare background free of naturalistic elements. The painter portrays the old woman in profile to highlight, through a strong realism of the modeling, the deformation caused by time on her body. The renouncement to open her eyes to reality, the impotence in the face of what the future holds is manifest in the desperate gesture of covering her face with one hand. The young mother instead offers herself to the front view, in contrast to the other figure: her naked body in the relief seems flat and light in color to evoke an almost sacred dimension, an allusion to the maternity of the Virgin Mary who is also referred to by the crowning of flowers placed on her head. A stylized snake, camouflaged with transparent cloth wrapped around the legs, indicates the evil lurking, the looming danger in every moment of life” (Giorgia Course - Official Web Site GNAM)
“The contrast between the stylization of the young woman and the naturalism of the old one has a symbolic value: the first stage of life is characterized by infinite possibilities and metamorphosis, the last by immutable uniformity, in which one cannot escape the scrutiny with reality: the first phase is characterized by the dream ... the last by the inability to dream” (Eva di Stefano)
“Cemetery of Ostia Antica” 1904 and “Malaria” about 1905 by Giulio Aristide Sartorio (1860/1932)
“To be or not to be. Who loves not is not” about 1879 by Nino Costa (1826/1903)
He took part in the breach of Porta Pia, and was elected council member but he was appreciated more in England where he lived for a long time than in Italy
“Arguing with the captivating virtuosity of colors and the easy and rich way of expression introduced by Mariano Fortuny in Rome, Costa wanted to promote a different practice of art mindful of the truth but also attentive to what was happening on the international scene. Thanks to its links with foreign artists, especially British, his organizational skills gave birth to the Golden Club first, then to the Scuola Etrusca (Etruscan School) and eventually to the association In Arte Libertas” (Maria Elisa Tittoni)
Marble bust “Atte” 1892 by Adolfo Wildt (1868/1931)
“Atte, freed woman favored by Nero, was the only one to mourn him and to bury his body. Wildt had a deep knowledge of the past and studied in depth the Hellenistic sculptures of the National Museum of Naples, as he himself relates in his memories. (...) Even in this early work by Wildt the theme of pain closed in on itself is evident as well as his excellent technique in the treatment of marble of which he was always considered a master” (Stefania Frezzotti)
Marble Statue “Farinata degli Uberti” 1901/03 by Carlo Fontana (1865/1956)
Marble relief “Kindred in the afterlife” about 1895/99 by Paul Albert Bartholomé (1848/1928)
Marble statue “The Old Woman” about 1908 by the Croatian Ivan Meštrović (1883/1962)
“The stark description and the posture of the nude body show the derivation from Klimt's Three Ages and Meštrović's formation in the Secession period but it is also detectable the influence of Rodin and Bourdelle sculptures studied in Paris in 1908” (Stefania Frezzotti)

Room 17 - Hero and superman

Nietzsche's ideas are reflected in the figurative arts with the rediscovery of the Greek myth, and of the vital principle, even if obscure, represented by Dionysus as opposed to the rational and clear principle represented by Apollo
The idea of the superman of Nietzsche, also because of the manipulations of his sister Elisabeth, would be unfortunately adopted by the Nazis, with tragic consequences
“Fight of the Centaurs” 1909 by Giorgio de Chirico (1888/1978)
“The painting is clearly inspired by the Battle of the Centaurs, painted in 1873 by Arnold Böcklin, and it is part of the group of metaphysical works, many of which were destroyed by the artist himself” (Mario Ursino)
“Treasures of the Sea” 1901 by Plinio Nomellini (1866/1943)
Pointillist painter from Leghorn who lived in Genoa for a long time. He was a friend of Giacomo Puccini, Grazia Deledda, Eleonora Duse and Gabriele D'Annunzio
Marble statue “Humanity against Evil” 1908 by Gaetano Cellini (1875/1957)
“The lines of the epigraph show the allegorical intent of the sculpture, while in the monumental and dramatic posture of the male nude one can detect the influence of Rodin's Michelangelism” (Stefania Frezzotti)
“Pygmalion” 1896 by Giulio Bargellini (1896/1936)
“Gymnastics” and “Working wood and iron” two of the eighteen “Panels of the Allegories of the Arts” executed in 1900 by Paolo Gaidano (1861/1916) also in the Arts Café Room and in the four vestibules. Oil paintings on canvas simulating mosaics during the Neo-Renaissance Revival of the turn of the century
Bronze statue “The Young Man and Death” 1911/12 by Daniele De Strobel (1873/1942)
“The Fountain of the Swamp” 1912/13 by Duilio Cambellotti (1876/1960)
Bronze statue “To Frisio” 1883 by Achille D'Orsi (1845/1929)
“Engraved plaque (Baccelli's plaque)” 1903 by Carlo Fontana (1865/1956)
Guido Baccelli (1830/1916) was Minister of Education and Minister of Agriculture several times from 1879 to 1903. He promoted the archaeological walk at Porta Capena, established the National Gallery of Modern Art and promoted the excavations of Pompeii and the Baths of Caracalla
"The work is a quote of suovetaurilia, depicted in the Forum of Trajan, the Roman purification rituals involving the sacrifice of the animals more valuable to the farmer. On the back side of the plate is represented a doctor. Mercury is here personified as the protecting genius of trade, probably an allusion to the post of Minister of Agriculture, Industry and Commerce, held by Baccelli in the years 1901-1903" (Official Website of GNAM -
Painting “Roman Sunset” 1892 by Onorato Carlandi (1848/1939)
The beautiful red color evokes the tuff present in the land of what looks like the country between the Appian Way and the Ardeatina Road
Painting “Cloistered” 1904 by Umberto Prencipe (1879/1962)
Painting “Trasporting a block of travertine” 1897 by Giuseppe Raggio (1823/1916)
Painting “Chopin nocturne I op. IX” about 1908 by Vittorio Grassi (1878/1958)
Bronze statue “Dancing Faun” 1906 by Augusto Rivalta (1837/1925)
Bronze statue “Player of ocarina” 1881 by Luigi Secchi (1853/1921)
Bronze statue “Indian Knight on the Lookout” 1893 by Paolo Troubetzkoy (1866/1938)
“Theme unusual in the production of the sculptor, brilliant celebrator of the cosmopolitan high society at the turn of two centuries, the Lookout is inspired by the suggestions made by the American circus of Buffalo Bill, who, during a European tour, made a stop in Milan in 1891. (...) Troubetzkoy, however, syncretizes the Western iconography of this rider in a robust and monumental, even classical flavor, not far from the syntax of the equestrian monument” (Matteo Lafranconi)
Bronze sculpture “Athlete struggling with a python” 1877 by Frederic Leighton (1830/96). English painter and sculptor, one of the most important and representative of the Victorian period
“The direct comparison with classical sculpture (the obvious source of Laocoon) is parallel to the attention to models of the Renaissance, especially Michelangelo, always underpinning the imagination poetical and formal of the artist, trained in Florence and later participant, in Rome, in the academic cultural climate that committed to evoke classical beauty in the morphologies, immanent and archetypal, of the popular models” (Matteo Lafranconi)
Bronze statue “Cain” 1902 by Domenico Trentacoste (1856/1933) from Palermo
“The dramatic figure of Cain devastated by remorse seems to show an early direct knowledge, by Trentacoste, of the Thinker by Rodin's Gate of Hell (1880), itself derived from the pose of the Ugolino by Carpeaux and from the Damned in Michelangelo's Last Judgment” (Stefania Frezzotti)
Plaster sculpture “Sergio giving a dirty look” 1911 by Ivan Meštrović (1883/1962)

Room 18 - La Belle époque

“The long period of peace that goes from 1870 to 1914 was called Belle époque, a term which ended up indicating especially the high society of fin de siècle in its social rites between Paris and the new elegant destinations for vacations. Cosmopolitan aristocrats and nouveau riche, adventurers, femmes fatales and dandy, intellectual arbiters of taste, as Oscar Wilde, Gabriele D'Annunzio, Marcel Proust, combined to revolutionize lifestyles” (GNAM Website -
“The races in the Bois de Boulogne”: “In the grandstand,” “Next to the stove”, “On the chair” 1881 by Giuseppe de Nittis (1846/84)
He was an Apulian artist who moved to Paris when he was twenty-two. He died there at only thirty-nine
“The three episodes are marked by a triptych structure and unified in the foreground by the rhythm of the straw-bottomed chairs, used by women, men, dogs. It is a social scene but also a social fable, whose protagonist is a young blonde woman progressing towards a more convenient location. Anybody who watches the work, however, as most of the spectators of the races, is not allowed to see the horses: we see only the forest of umbrellas on the lawn. The crowd, in fact, is looking mostly at itself as it shows off fur coats and fashionable hats in all shades of brown and black” (Maria Vittoria Marini Clarelli)
“Madamoiselle Lanthèlme” 1907 e “Marquise Casati with peacock feathers” about 1912 by Giovanni Boldini (1842/1931)
“After having formed with the 'Macchiaioli' painters and having studied the works of Frans Hals, the Dutch portrait painter of the seventeenth century, Boldini developed a fast, cursive painting technique, based on the virtuous touch, which made him the painter par excellence of urban sophistication in the nineteenth century” (Carlo Bertelli, Giuliano Briganti, Antonio Giuliano)
“Portrait of Teresa Maglione Oneto” 1879 by Domenico Morelli (1823/1901)
“Portrait of Otto Messinger” 1909 e “Portrait of Mrs. Pantaleoni” 1894 by Antonio Mancini (1852/1930)
Bronze statues “Mother and daughter” 1911 and “My wife” 1911 by Paolo Troubetzkoy (1866/1938)
“Portrait of Paolo Troubetzkoy” 1908 by Ilj’a Efimovič Repin (1844/1930) one of the greatest Russian artists of all time
“The main protagonist of the parable of the entire Russian Realism genre, at ease in small as in large formats, investigator in the field of history and social painting, in landscape and actualized genre scenes, but first and foremost champion in the field of portraiture” (Matteo Lafranconi)
“Villa Borghese Park of the Deer” 1911 and “Portrait in open air” about 1902 by Giacomo Balla (1871/1958)
“Vila Borghese Park of the Deer was supposed to decorate the dining room of the Princess of Bassiano. The structure of the polyptych, in Art Noveau style, is composed according to the technique of photomontage, with a method related more to a compositional scheme than to the truth of the landscape. The square with the fountain, behind the Borghese Gallery, close to the Park of the Deers, is in fact doubled in size, articulating and balancing areas of shadow and light” (Paola Guarnera - Official Web Site GNAM)
“Ceramics and glass art”, “Printing”, “Music”, “Weaving” and “Astronomy” five of the eighteen “Panels of the Allegories of the Arts” executed in 1900 by Paolo Gaidano (1861/1916)

Room 19 - The high society portrait

“Portrait of daughter Irene” 1897 by Cesare Tallone (1853/1919)
Sumptuous yet intimate portrayal of a girl of nine years of whom one can guess the strong personality
“Woman in open countryside” 1889 by Giacomo Grosso (1860/1938)
“With a lively and exuberant temperament, sensitive to expressiveness of color values, far from dramatic or unpleasant aspects of life, Grosso located in the cosmopolitan aristocratic portraiture his most congenial medium of expression, painting an uninterrupted series of female figures with backgrounds of outdoor landscapes or indoors” (Matteo Lafranconi)
Bronze statue “Rebirth” 1895 (cast 1897) by Ettore Ximenes (1855/1926)
“One of the most representative works of Neo-Renaissance and Art Nouveau sculpture. Through the presence of a female figure, graceful and lithe, this bronze wants to be a homage to Botticelli, mentioned in the inscription which runs on the base (Alexander Botticellius florentinus dedit lumens), and to the cult of youth in the season of flowers” (Sabrina Spinazza)
“Portrait of Amélie Rives Louis” 1895 and marble bust “Portrait of Princess Dorothea Odescalchi” 1921 by Paolo Troubetzkoy (1866/1938)
“The small-format portraits of the artist enjoyed a huge worldly success in that European and American international scene to which Troubetzkoy belonged (...). Being portraited in a small bronze by the artist, immediately recognizable by his very personal interpretation of the plastic Lombard 'Scapigliatura' of Cremona or Ranzoni, was an indisputable sign of worldly consecration” (Patrizia Rosazza Ferraris)
Marble bust “Florentine Iris” about 1900 by Raffaello Romanelli (1856/1928) who also sculpted the Monument to Carlo Alberto in Via del Quirinale
“Ritratto di Emilia Sommi Picenardi” c. 1910 di Emilio Gola (1851/1923)
“Dreams” 1896 by Vittorio Corcos (1859/1933), splendid vision of irresistible charm, a pure but unknown diamond of the Italian artistic heritage that would deserve great media exposure
“When this singular, expressive work appeared, well thought and almost eerie, it sparked a furious noise; in the alluding title of the subject, one saw the typical image of a modern young woman, proud and aware, until then only represented in literature, but never in painting” (Mario Ursino)
“Agriculture” e “Hunting and Fishing” two of the eighteen “Panels of the Allegories of the Arts” executed in 1900 by Paolo Gaidano (1861/1916)

Room 20 - Avant-garde and modern life

The Futurist movement in 1909 considered dynamism and technological change at the center of the artistic interest. The research of Futurism intertwined and merged with that of Cubism
Five futurist paintings by Giacomo Balla (1871/1958):
They are all works painted after 1913, corresponding to his Futurist period
Five masterpieces by Umberto Boccioni (1882/1916):
Paintings “Horse + Knight + Apartment Block” about 1913/14, “States of mind-Those who go” 1911, “Plastic synthesis of a seated figure (Silvia)” about 1915, “Portrait of maestro Ferruccio Busoni” 1916 and extraordinary patinated plaster sculpture “Antigraceful” 1912/13 representing his mother's face distorted in Futuristic style
“There must be the absolute and complete abolition of the complete line and of the finished statue. Let's open wide the figure and let's fit the environment in it... So objects never end and intersect with endless combinations of sympathy and shock aversion... It is the idea of interpenetration” (Umberto Boccioni)
“Still Life with a clarinet, a fan and a bunch of grapes” about 1911 by Georges Braque (1882/1963)
“Conquest of the Air” 1913 by the French Roger de la Fresnaye (1885/1925) one of the founders of Cubism. Oil on canvas preparatory to the final version in the Museum of Modern Art in New York
“Le torniquet du Café de Paris” about 1912 by Ugo Giannattasio (1888/1958)
“The painter is not an intellectual, but an instinctive, and the work of art is born from the stomach not from the brain” (Ugo Giannattasio)
“Lightning” 1910 by Luigi Russolo (1885/1947)
He theorized the use of noise as music, Rumorism or noise music. In 1922 he invented the instrument rumorarmonio to be used in futuristic music. In this painting one can almost hear the thunder of the explosion, just as the nearby lightning strikes
“Impressions simultanées (Jeune fille-rue-atmosphère)” about 1912 by Gino Severini (1883/1966)
Two bronze sculptures: “Woman Walking” 1912/20 and “Head” about 1913 by the Ukrainian Alexander Archipenko (1887/1964)
“The characteristics of this work (...) refer to the Cubist study of movement of the human figure. This is confirmed by the correlation with 'Nu descendant un escalier' of Marcel Duchamp, with whom the Russian artist along with Georges Braque, Fernand Léger and Pablo Picasso formed the group of the Section d'Or, under whose auspices in 1912 he opened his first art school” (Livia Velani)

Room 21 - Between vanguard and tradition

Room dedicated to metaphysical painting that simultaneously with Futurism gave an artistic interpretation and a reading of the troubled times before the First World War remaining however tied, unlike Futurism all projected to the future, to the ancient roots of the past
“The oval of the apparitions” 1918 by Carlo Carrà (1881/1966)
“The oval, which symbolically refers to the Cubists, feeds the tension toward the perfect spirit to which the objects of the painting tend to conform, in tune with the contemporary De Chirico's metaphysical research” (Mariastella Margozzi)
Plaster sculpture “The sleeper” about 1921 by Arturo Martini (1889/1947)
“The Daily Automaton” 1930 oil and collage on board by Enrico Prampolini (1894/1956)
“The Daily Automaton is located in the moment of transition between the so-called 'mechanical art' derived from Futurism practiced by the artist in the twenties and the cosmic 'idealism', in surrealistic style, which characterizes the production of the thirties. Inspired by Charlot the well-known character of Charlie Chaplin, it is indeed a surreal image that symbolizes the alienation of the common man in the face of contemporary achievements of science and technology” (Mariastella Margozzi)
“The woman in white” about 1911 by Kees van Dongen (1877/1968)
Sculpture in tuff “Portrait of the painter Vincenzo Costantini” about 1913 by Roberto Melli (1885/1958)
Plaster sculpture “Tête qui regarde” 1927 by Alberto Giacometti (1901/66)
“Alone, among the followers of Cubism fanatical for hieratic works, he was able to give deformations a harmonious continuity and, with an infallible authority, he was able to take back the line to its full function, that of Botticelli and Pontormo, especially in his nude paintings with exquisite undulations” (André Chastel)
“The line, that draws melancholic faces staring and sometimes absent, tapering in the rigors of form, is accompanied often by a dense mix and load of color. With the series of nudes painted between 1916 and 1917 and resumed in 1919 the image exudes a new harmonious width and has a new intensity more free and sensual. His untimely death will stop him from concocting his obsessive search for the purity of the lines through an ancient rhythm and a language fragile yet brutal” (Carlo Bertelli, Giuliano Briganti, Antonio Giuliano)
“Still Life with silver plate” 1914, “The Women Bathers” 1915 and “Still Life” 1918 by Giorgio Morandi (1890/1964)
“The only painter who has worked positively during the metaphysic period is Giorgio Morandi, the most notable among his contemporaries. He was of austere nature, concise, researcher of pure effects, almost exclusively painting still lives that have the value for him of subtle meditation, unique, conversations with the dream and the invisible” (André Chastel)
“Self Portrait” 1925, “The Archeologists” about 1927 and “Hector and Andromache” 1924 by the brilliant Giorgio de Chirico (1888/1978)
“De Chirico, who was a great surrealist painter and one of the greatest portraitists of all time, changed direction in the early 1920s, with a sort of afterthought that made him turn especially to the great classical art of Florence and Venice, and also to Poussin. Later De Chirico would devote himself entirely to traditional painting, a sort of polemic against the idea of an artist who must be an innovator at all costs, a genius who destroys that which preceded him, a sort of bomb that destroys everything on his way” (Federico Zeri)
“Le Paysage en feu” 1928 by René Magritte (1898/1967) great surrealistic Belgian painter
“My pictures painted in the years from 1925 to 1936 were the result of a methodical search of a shocking poetic effect that, obtained by staging objects taken from reality, would give a new poetic sense to the real world from which these objects were taken, with an all-natural exchange” (René Magritte)
“Souvenir d'Enfance a Athènes” 1930/31 and “Crete” 1931/32 by Alberto Savinio (1891/1952), pseudonym of Andrea De Chirico, Giorgio de Chirico's younger brother
Enormous marble bust “Maestro Arturo Toscanini” 1924 by Adolfo Wildt (1868/1931)
“The politeness of polished marble, yellowed by the wax coating, according to the custom of Wildt with his own technique, in particular enhances the hair and bright eyes of Toscanini” (Lidia Velani)

Room 22 - The road to abstraction

“Iridescent interpenetration” 1912 by Giacomo Balla (1871/1958)
"Critics have long debated whether the Compenetrazioni Iridescenti executed by Balla in 1912 in Düsseldorf - and so called much later - were or were not conceived deliberately as abstract works. Today almost all rule it out, considering them either studies of the iris or attempts to represent the invisible according to the Balla’s spiritualist tendencies" (From the sign next to the work exposed at the GNAM)
“Angular Line” 1930 by Wassili Kandinsky (1866/1944)
“It combines some of the geometric and symbolic figures that characterize his continue evolution (...) with the resumption of patterns and vocabulary of the Bauhaus and in general of the European non-figurative language” (Maria Giuseppina di Monte)
“The mourning of lovers” about 1953 by Joan Mirò (1893/1983)
“In terms of iconography it recalls the Constellation series, in which the imagery borrowed from literary fairy tales is interwoven with the interest in the unconscious, whose signs and symbols are not always easily decoded” (Maria Giuseppina di Monte)
“Inner Landscape, 10:30 am” 1918 by Julius Evola (1898/1974). Painter, writer and philosopher linked to the Italian fascist party
“The objectification of the image is all in the mind, away from any emotional involvement” (Mariastella Margozzi)
“Yellow cross Q VII” 1922 by the Hungarian László Moholy-Nagy (1895/1946)
“Great composition A with black, red, yellow and blue” 1919 by the Dutch Piet Mondrian (1872/1944)
“His initial experience, strongly linked to a realistic trend will soon be overcome in favor of a more plastic research tinged with expressionist tones. If the Cubism of Picasso, Leger and Braque will help him to move away from a subjective view of reality, it would not certainly be this way of expression to lead the way toward abstraction. In fact, as the cubists liked the idea of a non-objective representation, they still remained tied to the forms and volumes of things without breaking the link between painting and reality. This detachment will take place with Mondrian with slow and laborious steps and thoughts” (Carlo Bertelli, Giuliano Briganti, Antonio Giuliano)
“Architectural Feature HO₃” 1926 by Ivo Pannaggi (1901/81)
“Box-r-bild” 1921 by the German Kurt Schwitters (1887/1948)
“In 1919 Kurt Schwitters created his first Merzbilder, collage that combined paintings with inserts of words and phrases - often newspaper clippings - and heterogeneous waste materials found in the streets and parks of Hannover (...). Based on the concept of total freedom and randomness in the choice of materials, working on the concept of total work of art, Schwitters exceeded so the language of traditional painting, creating a crucial reference point for Dadaist culture” (Sabrina Spinazzè)
“The Sisters” 1922 by the Bulgarian Nicolaj Diulgheroff (1901/82)
"It's one of the few examples of the artist's work before his participation to Futurism in 1926 and it shows a schematic picture of constructivism, due to his attendance of the Bauhaus in Weimar" (From the sign next to the work exposed at the GNAM)
“Mechanical Landscape” 1926/27 and “Mechanical Idol” 1925/26 by Fillia (Luigi Colombo) (1904/36) from the Piedmont region
Founder of the Futurist Movement and of the Turin Union of Futurist art, he was politically active and he was not only a painter but also a writer as well as designer of urban spaces and architectural complexes. He died young at age 31
 ”Circles” 1916/63 by the Swiss Johannes Itten (1888/1967)
"The original of 1916 has been lost and Itten remade it in 1963. In the Bauhaus Itten held from 1919 to 1923 the preliminary training course that helped students to develop immediate perception and the framing of every experience in a crisp formal outline" (From the sign next to the work exposed at the GNAM)
 ”Chorus” 1938 by Carlo Belli (1903/91)
“Memorie d’oltretomba” about 1938 by Osvaldo Licini (1894/1958)
"In Italy, the turning point of Abstract Art is enshrined in the first postwar Venice Biennale in 1948 which will see the participation of artists such as Kandinsky, Klee, Malevich, Mondrian and others, and will be considered for Italians the first abstractionist biennial. The title of the work suggests the combination "geometry-feeling" that Licini researched from 1935 onwards, where the geometric shapes are combined with references to fantastic images" (Fabiola Di Fabio)
“La jarre orange” 1914 by Alberto Magnelli (1888/1971)
“Under the Red Fish Sign” about 1935 and “Painting” about 1935 by Atanasio Soldati (1896/1953)
Bronze sculpture “Tripartite Unity” 1958 by the Swiss Max Bill (1908/94)

Room 23 - The war

Collection of paintings about war events from the Italian “Risorgimento” (“Resurrection” meaning the struggle for the unification of the country) to the Resistance during World War Two. Some of the artists on display here, as Filippo Palizzi or Giovanni Fattori, fought during the Wars of Italian Independence
“Battle of S. Martino” 1880/83 and “Battle of Dogali” 1896 by Michele Cammarano (1835/1920)
His style was inspired by social realism. In these large paintings he expressed compositions that reveal his innate theatrical vocation in the family: his father Salvatore was the greatest dramatist and writer of opera libretti (Lucia di Lammermoor by Donizetti, Trovatore by Verdi) in the first half of the nineteenth
“Battle of Custoza” 1880, “Line of Fire” 1884 and “Military exercises” 1890 by Giovanni Fattori (1825/1908)
“Right in that popular dimension, gaunt and almost schematic which was the style of the large canvas of Custoza, Fattori proposed a more articulated or, at least apparently, more complex 'national' definition of a realistic panting” (Raffaele Monti)
“The last moments of Carlo Alberto in Oporto” 1884 by Gaetano Previati (1852/1920)
“Previati departs from the canons of history painting and he represents not the logic of history, but by removing any conventional narrative mechanism, he shows the human pain and the emotional reactions of these big losers” (Anna Maria Damigella)
“It stands out from his previous and more conventional production to embrace the ideals of a new painting style, close to the issues of European symbolism, in which the light has become a vehicle of mysticism and religion” (Website of the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna - www.gnam.
“Red Shirts” 1898 by Umberto Coromaldi (1870/1948)
“The whole project develops a propaganda program through an aerofuturistic style in which the vorticism of the backgrounds contrasts with the masses of the firm and imposing machines and of the militaristic hosts” (Mariastella Margozzi)
Painting “Synthetic Visions of a Landscape” 1933 and sculpture in wood finished in faux bronze “Soldier of the fascist revolution” 1934/35 by Renato di Bosso (Renato Righetti) (1905/1982)
“The battle of the Admiral Bridge” 1955 by Renato Guttuso (1911/87)
“War-Party” 1925 by Fortunato Depero (1892/1960)
Bronze sculpture "Battle" 1957 by Umberto Mastroianni (1910/98)
"Mastroianni looks and develops the experiences of futurist plasticity, with particular reference to Boccioni, and of cubist sculpture, arriving at an idea of ​​the structure and a treatment of the matter deployed in dynamic forms, violently fragmented and tense" (Silvia Telmon)
“Minniti, the legendary hero of Africa” 1936 and “Athena” 1934 by Arturo Martini (1889/1947)
Athena is the only scale model of the monument five meters placed in 1935 in the Piazzale del Rettorato of La Sapienza University in Rome. Martini himself attributed to the statue the meaning of incitement to war, perhaps for the contingency of Italian participation in the Spanish Civil War
Plaster bust of “Garibaldi” 1875 by Ercole Rosa (1846/94)
Bronze statue “Death of Emilio Morosini” 1883 by Ettore Ferrari (1845/1929)
“Aeropainting of a meeting with the island” 1939 by Benedetta Marinetti (1897/1977)
"His interest for pure form and in particular for colors resulted in his search for strict abstraction. He participated in intensely futuristic demonstrations, creating and interpreting stage actions, drawing clothes, costumes, furniture, designing plastic figures. His critical position towards the second futurism, latent in the mid-twenties, was accentuated in the early thirties, leading to isolation and withdrawal into a search for naturalistic figuration" (Enciclopedia Treccani)
“Civil War (Martyrs of Piazzale Loreto)” 1944 Aligi Sassu (1912/2000)
The fifteen Italians had been shot in response to a strange bomb attack two days earlier, August 10, 1944 in Milan against a German truck. Six Italians passersby were dead and one German soldier was lightly wounded
The SS Captain Theodor Saewecke who ordered the shooting died in 2004 at the age of 93 years without ever having spent even one day in prison. He was sentenced in absentia to life imprisonment in 1999 after a rigorous investigation
War crimes like this, unfortunately, were put under the carpet after the war for reasons of political expediency

High-relief in marble on blackboard “Mussolini’s Mask” 1923/25 by Adolfo Wildt (1868/1931)

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