October, 7 – November, 5 2021

Exhibition venue: BERARDI Gallery - Roma Organization: BERARDI Gallery Event: Herta Ottolenghi Wedekind. The dream of the total artwork Daughter of the entrepreneur and banker Paul Wedekind and wife of the Genoese count Arturo Ottolenghi, Herta Ottolenghi Wedekind (Berlin 1885 - Acqui 1953) was an enlightened patron and one of the main protagonists of the extraordinary season of decorative arts in the 1920s and 1930s. Pupil of the German artist Hans Stoltenberg - Lerche, with whom she studied in Rome between 1910 and 1912, she debuted in the field of sculpture. Around 1920 she perfected an innovative system, patented in 1922, for the creation of drawings for works of applied art based on the symmetrical duplication of abstract motifs obtained through random traces of ink, in a way that has points of contact with the contemporary “Rorschach spots” used in psychodiagnostics. These forms are used in the decoration of tapestries, carpets, cushions, screens, fabrics for furniture, both woven and hand-embroidered, with which the artist would triumph in major exhibitions of decorative arts of those years. The debut of 1922 at the Deutsche Gewerbeschau München, was, in fact, followed by the International exhibitions of decorative arts in Monza in 1923, 1925 and 1927, the first National exhibition of artistic industries at the Kursaal of Viareggio in 1924, the Exposition internationale des arts décoratifs et industriels modernes in Paris in 1925, the Triennale of Monza in 1930 and the First exhibition of women's art and work at the Castello Sforzesco in Milan also in 1930. These experiences were added to many other personal exhibitions, such as the one of 1926, at the Kunstgewerbehaus Friedmann & Weber in Berlin. The remarkable success with the public and critics is confirmed by the enthusiastic reviews (she was described as a “brilliant artist” by the critic Piero Scarpa) and the prestigious awards she received, as well as the numerous purchases, among which we must mention the tapestries bought by the city of Milan after the Exhibition of 1923 in Monza. Over the years, several of his works entered the most important collections in the world, including the Victoria & Albert Museum in London and the Metropolitan Museum in New York. To underline also the role played in the fashion circuit: in Monza, in 1925, she obtained the gold medal for the XXI class, dedicated to fashion and clothing accessories. The narration of the patronage of Herta and her husband Arturo, which took shape around the construction of the Villa of Monterosso, near Acqui Terme deserves a separate chapter. This ambitious project, which lasted for almost half a century, saw the participation of some of the main protagonists of Italian architecture, like Federico D'Amato, Marcello Piacentini, Ernesto Lapadula and Giuseppe Vaccaro, who completed the project. The villa in Acqui, which also housed the artists' studios, can be defined as a true "acropolis of contemporaneity" which, thanks to the patronage of the couple, hosted works of art chosen and commissioned exclusively for their location in the large house. What is also particularly important, inside the park of the villa, is the mausoleum designed by Piacentini and entirely decorated with frescoes and mosaics by Ferruccio Ferrazzi. With Arturo Martini and Ferrazzi, an artist with whom she collaborated for more than twenty years, Herta would establish continuous relationships of commission and conspicuous cultural exchanges, evidenced by their correspondence, some of which has never been published. Moreover, thanks to Piacentini's willingness, in 1934 the Ottolenghi couple had the ancient Jona Ottolenghi shelter in Acqui restored, to which they donated some of the greatest masterpieces in the history of twentieth-century Italian art: not only The Prodigal Son by Arturo Martini, but also Ferruccio Ferrazzi's Prismatic Vision. In the shelter most of Herta's sculptures made in the Thirties would find place, such as the Madonna and Child. In the last twenty years of her life, Herta devoted herself above all to her beloved sculpture, to poetry and to the completion of the enterprise of Monterosso, where she died in 1953. The exhibition focuses on the textile creations of Herta Ottolenghi Wedekind, of which 40 examples are presented. Accompanying the exhibition is a monographic volume that, for the first time, traces the salient moments of her career reconstructed through unpublished documents and writings.  

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October , 2021

From “Il giornale delle mostre”

DATE: October 2021 EVENT: “Il giornale delle mostre”, insert of “Il giornale dell’arte” – Abstracts like Rorschach’s spots Gianluca Berardi has formed a temporary alliance with Giulia and Diego Gomiero and from 7 October to 5 November will be presenting the rediscovery of a sensational artist, the Berlin countess Herta von Wedekind zu Horst (1885-1953), […]

October , 2021

From “Il giornale dell’arte”


DATE: October 2021 EVENT: “Seeing in Rome”, supplement to “Il giornale dell’arte” no. 421 – The Countess embroidered while dreaming of eternity. 40 creations by Herta Ottolenghi Wedekind In Italy between the two wars, women like Edita Broglio and Cesarina Gualino were cultural driving forces and talented artists, especially the former. The Berlin countess Herta […]

September , 2021

October, 7 – November, 5 2021

Exhibition venue: BERARDI Gallery – Roma Organization: BERARDI Gallery Event: Herta Ottolenghi Wedekind. The dream of the total artwork Daughter of the entrepreneur and banker Paul Wedekind and wife of the Genoese count Arturo Ottolenghi, Herta Ottolenghi Wedekind (Berlin 1885 – Acqui 1953) was an enlightened patron and one of the main protagonists of the […]

June , 2021

Guido Marussig (1885 – 1972): painter between “Secession” and “Ritorno all’ordine”

June 2021

ENTER TO SEE THE WORKS Guido Marussig was a multifaceted talent: painter, architect, set designer, decorator, engraver, illustrator and art critic. The predominant character of his art is the decorative synthesis that distinguishes his entire production: from the early Secessionist Divisionism to the research on geometric abstractionism of the 1950s.

May , 2021

Bruno Croatto (1875 – 1948):  The magic of reality

May 2021

ENTRA PER VISIONARE LE OPERE   Aligned to the sensibility of Magic Realism Bruno Croatto from 1925 in Rome was inspired by the ancient masters to reach a hyper-realistic and unmistakable stylistic perfection. The certainty of his style led him then in 1929 to hold a solo show at the Reitlinger gallery in Paris, one […]

March , 2021

Umberto Bottazzi (1865 – 1932): A “painter of chimeras” between Symbolism and Secession

March 2021

ENTER TO SEE THE WORKS   After almost a hundred years, the paintings of Bottazzi, one of the most eclectic artists who characterized the sort of second Renaissance that took place in Rome between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, are returning to an exhibition. His painting, cultured and hermetic, ranges from pointillist experimentation to international […]

painter between “Secession” and “Ritorno all’ordine”

Manuel Barrese

The sources of the time referred recurrently to Guido Marussig (Trieste 1885 – Gorizia 1972) as an eclectic and versatile artist. His multifaceted talent had already been underlined by the critic Alfredo Melani who in 1919 described him in these terms: «designer of“ small prints ”, he is a woodcutter and a painter, decorator and poster designer; versatile, he even tries architecture “1. According to an article published in “Emporium” in 1924, what unified the different artistic expressions experimented by the artist was the impulse to “decorative synthesis” 2.

From postage stamps to monumental painting, from interior design to graphics, from scenography to architectural design, there was no area of ​​creativity that he excluded from his interests. And perhaps this versatility – moreover cultivated by similar artists, such as Guido Cadorin, equally trained in the Veneto area in the sign of the idealized secessionist myth of the synthesis of the arts – has delayed the understanding of the real value of Marussig. Only starting from the 1980s – with the slow emergence of a historiographical canon no longer exclusively aimed at celebrating in hagiographic terms the deeds of a small number of characters ascribable to the historical avant-gardes – did we begin to look at the artist with greater attention. ; thus, after a series of episodic critical contributions3 – among which the thrust of Gabriella Belli in 1988 stands out which, rightly, contextualizes the figure of Marussig within the Venetian culture developed on the margins of the free exhibitions of Ca ‘Pesaro4 (1908 -1914) – it was possible to organize, in 2004, an exhaustive monographic exhibition at the Revoltella Museum in Trieste.

The predisposition to range between different disciplines and to make heterogeneous languages ​​their own, always declining them in an original stylistic code, must be traced back to the stimuli received, since the early years, in the native Trieste, a multicultural city historically projected into the orbit of Central Europe. Marussig, in fact, first trained at the Triestina Industrial School and, from 1900, thanks to the obtaining of a scholarship, at the Academy of Fine Arts in Venice where he attended the courses of Ettore Tito (figure school) and Augusto Sezanne (school of decoration). With an already composite cultural background, it opened up to the jumble of tendencies that animated the Venetian environment of the early twentieth century: a first crucial term of comparison had to be established with the instances of the Munich (1892) and Vienna (1897) secessions. ); equally important must have been the visual suggestions derived from post-impressionist painting both of French and English derivation. His adherence to the expressive modalities of European modernism also allowed him to appear among the ranks of the Venetian group – headed by Vettore Zanetti Zilla and composed, among others, by Cadorin and Casorati – at the Roman Secession of 19136.

It is interesting to note that Marussig’s early public debut took place in Rome at the 1902 exhibition of the Society of Amateurs and Connoisseurs of Fine Arts; on that occasion he probably had to bond with leading figures of the Roman scene – such as Arturo Noci – with whom, even in subsequent stays in the lagoon, he shared a pictorial approach aimed at recording the vibrations of light. From what can be deduced from a 1909 article that has remained unknown to critics until today, Marussig used to go into the most remote Venetian streets and paint en plain air in the company of the Roman Arturo Noci7 and an unidentified artist named Kratter.

From this perspective, and in line with contemporary Divisionist tendencies, he developed a language that was careful to restore the atmospheric and luministic values ​​of the landscape; at the same time, however, he inserted himself into the symbolist climate, sharpening the subtly melancholy character of his poetics. Landscapes-moods, constructed through skilful chromatic effects and imbued with an evanescent and lunar aestheticism, were repeatedly presented both at “institutional” and “frond” exhibitions. Especially in the early years of his career, Marussig managed to place himself in an intermediate position between the claims of the young dissenters of Ca ‘Pesaro – with whom he exhibited in 1908, in 1912 and again in 1913 – and the official nature of the Biennials. Over time, the Trieste artist became a permanent presence of the prestigious Venetian event: he was welcomed for the first time in 1905 – twenty years old and still a student of the Academy – and then in the editions before and after the two world wars. Marussig’s particular symbolist etymology gained considerable visibility especially during the 1907 Biennale; on that occasion he had the opportunity to meet established artists – such as Chini, Nomellini, Previati – exhibiting in the famous Sala del Sogno the canvas Weeping Willow, a suggestive naturalistic vision at dusk crossed by pearly veils and pervaded by a sense of sidereal stillness.

Having assimilated the lessons of the most prominent exponents of the Nordic secessions, Marussig created, up to the early 1920s, canvases – mainly of Venetian subjects – increasingly decorative, schematic and two-dimensional. It is no coincidence that the critic Antonio Maraini, in one of his writings of 1922 focused on detecting foreign influences on contemporary Italian art, counted Marussig among those who had “taken up, albeit modifying it according to their own orientation, the slender elegance and refined by Klimt »9.

To the usual easel production, the Trieste artist soon turned to painting with an environmental breath – in 1911, among other things, he created the external fresco of the Casa Nardi in Venice – and to architecture: in 1909, he elaborated the project , of medieval inspiration, of the new municipal building of the city of Trieste. The consonance with the world of construction meant that Marussig, during the Thirties, collaborated as a critic in the review “Rassegna di architettura”.

In 1916 he moved to Milan. The affirmation in the Lombard capital passed through an important personal exhibition at the Pesaro Gallery (1920) and, above all, through the achievement of various teaching assignments: between 1918 and 1937 he held the position of teacher at the Humanitarian, while from 1937 he was the holder of the chair of Ornate at the artistic high school of Brera.

In the 1920s and 1930s he intensified his work in the field of applied arts, interior design, monumental decoration – from 1926 he acquired the role of professor of drawing and mural painting at the Toschi Institute in Parma – and, finally, of graphics. . In the publishing sector he created decorative friezes for “Le Vie d’Italia” – magazine of the Italian Touring Club – and covers for both periodicals – for example “Dedalo”, “Pan”, “Emporium”, “La Rivista Illustrata del Popolo d ‘Italia’ – both for volumes by Ugo Ojetti and Gabriele d’Annunzio.

The Vate esteemed Marussig to such an extent that, in 1918, he entrusted him with the care of the staging – sets and costumes – of the tragedy La Nave, performed at the Scala in Milan and set to music by Italo Montemezzi. Also on the commission of d’Annunzio, the Trieste artist was busy, in intermittent times, with the demanding decoration works of the Vittoriale.

At the end of the 1920s, in a cultural climate oriented towards the so-called Return to order, Marussig arrived at an austere, synthetic classicism, tinged with metaphysical moods and echoing, on the one hand, the epic essentiality of Mario Sironi’s work, on the other hand, the rarefied formalism of certain Sarfattian authors of the twentieth century with whom, not surprisingly, the Trieste artist found himself exhibiting in 1929 and then in 1932. On this basis Marussig created views of the city until the end of his career in ruins and still lifes composed of a few and selected elements – geometric solids, broken columns – rhythmically reiterated according to an anti-naturalistic taste and, in some way, akin to the results of geometric abstraction.

1 A. Melani, Guido Marussig, in «Il Risorgimento Grafico», XVI, 7-8, luglio-agosto 1919, p. 206.

2 A. Francini, Artisti contemporanei. Guido Marussig, in «Emporium», LX, 360, 1924, p. 762.

3 Omaggio a Guido Marussig, catalogo della mostra con un testo di A. Crespi (Montrasio Arte, Monza 1980), Monza 1980. I. de Guttry, M.P. Maino, M. Quesada, Le arti minori d’autore in Italia dal 1900 al 1930, Roma-Bari 1985, pp. 234-237; L. Dijokic, D. Balzaretti, C.F. Carli (a cura di), Guido Marussig 1885-1972 tra Simbolismo e Déco, catalogo della mostra (Roma, Nuova Galleria Campo dei Fiori, 2003), Roma 2003.

4 G. Belli, Guido Marussig, in C. Alessandri, G. Romanelli, F. Scotton (a cura di), Venezia. Gli anni di Ca’ Pesaro 1908-1920, catalogo della mostra (Venezia-Trento 1988), Milano 1988, pp. 162-163.

5 V. Strukelj, G. Sgubbi (a cura di), Guido Marussig. Il mestiere delle arti, catalogo della mostra (Trieste 2004), Trieste 2004.

6 Marussig espose il dipinto Galee in partenza. Cfr. Prima esposizione internazionale d’arte della “Secessione”. Catalogo illustrato, Roma 1913, p. 51.

7 Per i rapporti tra Noci e Venezia cfr. M. Carrera, Arturo Noci (1874-1953) tra Roma e New York: dal divisionismo aristocratico al ritratto borghese, catalogo della mostra (Roma, Galleria Berardi, settembre-ottobre 2016), Roma 2016, p. 25.

8 «Ci telefonano da Venezia, 13 agosto: un’avventura poco gradita è capitata l’altro ieri a tre giovani artisti, due dei quali sono molto noti a Venezia ed il terzo è qui giunto da poco tempo proveniente da Trieste. Essi sono il giovane pittore Arturo Noci di Roma, Guido Marussig ed il signor Kratter. I tre giovani nelle ore pomeridiane dell’altro ieri decisero di recarsi a fare una gita sino al forte del Cavallino per godere lo spettacolo del mare. Giunti al Cavallino, scesero nel pontile riservato alle sole autorità militari ricevendo il permesso dal capo posto. I tre amici vi si inoltrarono per un pezzo avviandosi verso il mare, pur avendo osservato che alcuni cartelli lo vietavano. I tre giunti sulla strada militare ebbero la sfortuna d’incontrare un brigadiere di finanza il quale, credendo di trovarsi dinanzi a tre ladri, li dichiarò in arresto. […] Al forte del Cavallino, il capitano dei carabinieri Montesperelli sottopose i tre artisti ad un interrogatorio ed avendo assodato che il brigadiere di finanza aveva preso un granchio li fece rimettere in libertà». Tre artisti imprudenti, in «Il Giornale d’Italia», 14 agosto 1909.

9 A. Maraini, Influenze straniere sull’arte italiana d’oggi, in «Bollettino d’Arte», maggio 1922, p. 519.

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