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7/06 2016

Painters of light. From Divisionism to Futurism

Curated by Beatrice Avanzi, Daniela Ferrari and Fernando Mazzocca

 Mart, Rovereto

25 June ― 9 October 2016

In coproduction with Fundación MAPFRE, Madrid

After the first leg in Madrid, the exhibition produced by Mart and Fundación MAPFRE arrives in Italy!

Rovereto sees the arrival of the major masterpieces of artists who, at the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth century, defined the birth of modern Italian painting.

The ambitious exhibition presents works by great masters such as Segantini, Pellizza Volpedo, Morbelli, Longoni together with Boccioni, Balla, Carra, Russolo and Severini.

The exhibition, which promises to be the event of the year, will come to Rovereto in the green and picturesque summer of the Trentino-Alto Adige region.

Between the Dolomites and lakes, sportsmen, families, campers and mountain lovers will enjoy visiting this major international exhibition, the collections of the Mart and other current exhibitions in the museum’s three venues in Rovereto and Trento.

 The international project

 From Divisionisn to Futurism is a major international programme revolving around a specific historical period and a core of Italian masterpieces.

The project is based around two separate exhibitions: the first at the Fundación MAPFRE in Madrid, from 17 February to 5 June, and the second at the Mart di Rovereto, from 24 June to 9 October.

Marking two steps of a single journey, the two exhibitions illustrate the art of Italian masters who lived in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. These were the painters who introduced the revolutionary change of mentality from which the avant-garde movements of the twentieth century drew their inspiration, and in particular Futurism.

With this project, the Mart renews its fruitful international collaborations and, once again, highlights its own collections in Italy and abroad.

 The exhibition at the Mart

Painters of light. From Divisionim to Futurism exhibition is curated by Beatrice Avanzi, Musée d’Orsay; Daniela Ferrari, Mart; Fernando Mazzocca, University of Milan, and features more than 80 works in six chronological and thematic sections: Divisionism between reality and symbolism; The light of nature; Symbolist developments. A “painting of ideas”; Realist developments. Social commitment; Towards futurism; Futurist Painting.

Through a selection of masterpieces from the collections of the Mart, enriched by prestigious public and private loans, the exhibition narrates the origins and development of Divisionism in an explicit dialogue with Futurism.

Between the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, Divisionism played a fundamental role in the renewal of Italian art, finding its ideal continuation in the Futurist avant-garde.

It is in this confrontation between two generations that defines the birth of modern painting in Italy.

From a visual revolution arising from scientific discoveries concerning the breaking down of colour, and focused on the expressive power of light, the subjects painted also changed, tending toward a modernity in the topics depicted, ranging from social content in an Italy only recently united and still seeking its own cultural identity, to more lyrical subjects associated with the international trend of Symbolism.

Divisionism was first established in 1891 at the Triennale di Brera, with the first “public” showing of a group of young painters: Giovanni Segantini, Giuseppe Pellizza Volpedo, Angelo Morbelli and Emilio Longoni. The work of these artists shook and divided critics and the bourgeois public, not only for the use of the Divisionist technique, but also for its original interpretations of themes dear to tradition.

The geographic centre of the movement from the outset was the city of Milan, in which the Divisionists found opportunity for exhibition, a lively atmosphere open to debate and a critic/dealer to support them, Vittore Grubicy de Dragon, who was the first in Italy to reveal the techniques and successes of Pointillism. With the French movement, the Italian Divisionists share the use of only pure colours, not mixed on the palette but applied directly to the canvas in small dabs, which the viewer’s eye reassembles into form. The Italians, however, interpreted the Divisionist technique as a means and not an end, subjecting and adapting to the content and message of the work, in which the quest for greater brightness gave light a symbolic value. Divisionism therefore should be seen not as a subsidiary of the French movement, but as an independent trend, which shares some technical and theoretical assumptions with Pointillism.

At the centre of study of Divisionist painting we find the depiction of light, particularly in a natural setting. Freed of the landscape tradition, Divisionist painting used the environment as a means to unite man and nature, and also a favourite means for exploring light.

Despite the stylistic and thematic differences between one painter and another, which are stressed and compared in the exhibition, some widely shared questions emerge clearly. Interest in the world of workers, for example, or the predominance of works dedicated to political and social issues highlight a change of taste and attention to the conditions of the lower classes and unprecedented social disparities that enabled painting to acquire a collective and political dimension very different to the pietism of the genre painting of the previous decades.

The strength of this new manner and its technical forms led to the development of the Futurist school at the beginning of the twentieth century. The leading Italian avant-garde movement was founded on the ideas of the poet Filippo Tommaso Marinetti who in February 1909 burst onto the art scene with the Futurist Manifesto, published on the front page of “Le Figaro”.

His appeal attracted Umberto Boccioni, Giacomo Balla, Carlo Carrà, Luigi Russolo and Gino Severini who in April of the following year signed the Technical Manifesto of Futurist Painting, in which they proclaimed that “painting cannot exist without Divisionism” , indicating their shared Divisionist training as the starting point for the movement.

The breaking down of light associated to that of form and to a vocation for the depiction of the movement and speed of modern life projected Italian art into the heart of the contemporary European artistic debate. Industrial cities that were bursting outwards, the outskirts that were expanding, dynamism and progress were the themes that characterised this new research.

 

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