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Angelo Camillo Maine

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Angelo Camillo Maine

( Quarto 1892 - Genova 1969 )


    Angelo Camillo Maine

    Angelo Camillo Maine was born in Genoa in 1892. After attending the Accademia Ligustica for a short time, he chose an apprenticeship in the foundry of the sculptor and Divisionist painter Pietro Albino, on the cliffs of Quinto al Mare – absorbing the painter’s language, between Symbolism and Art Deco – and divided his time between jewellery works (cups, chalices and candlesticks) and funerary production (Maine Tomb, made in 1925 for the Staglieno Cemetery in Genoa, is particularly noteworthy). In 1928, he exhibited a finely chiselled bronze lamp entitled The Kiss of the Dragonflies at the Promotrice in Genoa. The lamp was also exhibited the following year at the Mostra del Centenario Amatori e Cultori in Rome and because of his work, Maine was compared to Benvenuto Cellini in an article in “La Casa bella”.

    Thanks to his talent as a meticulous engraver, in 1927 he participated in the third Exhibition of Decorative Art in Monza and in 1930 he sent two silver objects to the Goldsmith’s Exhibition at the Venice Biennale. From the 1930s, having set aside his career as a swimmer, he devoted himself entirely to sculpture and – as an amateur – to photography (he collaborated with the marine biologist Raffaele Issel, an expert in the deep fauna of the Gulf of Genoa, accompanying him out to sea in his boat in search of plankton). He preferred fish as a subject for his works – which he also investigated under the microscope – and modelled a series of bizarre fish, molluscs, crustaceans and abyssal deities in which the analytical study of natural forms merges with a visionary and surreal register, tinged with anthropomorphic allusions and enhanced by coloured patinas. Emblematic of these organic and metamorphic images are the bronzes Entomopsis (the use of scientific names is frequent in the titles) – the two tentacled creatures he sent to the Venice Biennale in 1936 – and the Mediterranean Hippocampus, silver medal winner at the 1937 Universal Exhibition in Paris. In 1939, at the X Sindacale in Genoa, he presented the Elephant Seal, a head with an enigmatic gaze recently rediscovered after decades of neglect, in which the usual virtuosity is transformed into concise modelling.

    From the early 1940s, Maine combines animal subjects – both marine and terrestrial, with a wide repertoire of monkeys, gorillas, orangutans, chimpanzees, and then bulls, roosters, horses and buffaloes – with the investigation of the human figure and religious themes, intensifying the expressionistic vein that was hidden in his pre-war plastic work. He moulded a series of figures with suffering and dramatic features: male faces, archaic and hallucinated (Ancient Man, Boxer, Warrior’s Head) and a group of black and red bronzes and waxes dedicated to the Head of Christ motif. The rapid and dynamic modelling, with broad planes interrupted by lacerations and lumps of vibrant matter, intensifies the feeling of the surface crumbling, approaching certain outcomes of informal sculpture. Some critics mentioned the works of Alberto Giacometti and Jean Dubuffet.

    Regularly invited to major exhibitions – from the Venice Bienniale (1942, 1948, 1954, 1956) to the Quadriennale in Rome (1943, 1948, 1955, 1959, 1965) -, in 1949 Maine travelled to South America for exhibitions in Buenos Aires, Córdoba and Montevideo.

    Sculptures and pencil and ink studies complemented his personal exhibitions in the 1950s at the Strozzina Gallery in Florence (1955) – presented by his friend Attilio Podestà. Appointed a member of the Accademia Ligustica di Belle Arti in Genoa, he died in Genoa in 1969.


    Sara Fontana


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