Giovanni Acci was born in Florence in 1910. He was very musical and studied the violin at the Accademia Filarmonica in Bologna, where he graduated in the early 1930s. At the same time, he developed a strong passion for drawing and painting, which gradually led him to abandon music and dedicate himself exclusively to art.
After making his debut with a Portrait at the Florence Interprovincial Art Exhibition in 1939, he held his first solo exhibition at the Lyceum in 1942. Right from these first exhibitions, the Tuscan painter’s stylistic orientation became clear: through a clear and strongly objective painting he became part of Magic Realism.
A sense of quiet mystery, enigmatic epiphanies and grave silences pervade the works of Giovanni Acci, who, stylistically, draws on the expressive clarity and balance of the Renaissance masters, whom he repeatedly met and studied in Florentine museums. On a par with Donghi and Cagnaccio di San Pietro, but through a solitary and independent path, he developed a pictorial space with a Renaissance matrix that served as a background for hermetic portraits and still lifes with a perfect and impenetrable formalism. In 1941, he was present at the Tuscan Art Exhibition in Palazzo Strozzi with a Self-Portrait.
During the Second World War, he interrupted his painting and exhibition activities and retired to Gombola, a small village perched on the Apennines in Emilia. It was here, in 1943, that he met his future wife Milena, whom he compared to Leonardo’s Madonnas in some emblematic letters. Returning to Florence after the war, he lived for a while in a refugee camp, having found his home destroyed by bombing.
The Modern Painters of Reality
In 1947, he joined the group of Modern Reality Painters. Completely bucking the trend of the nascent Italian Informal movement, the artists of this group, with the important support of De Chirico, asserted the need for a painting based on an ancient technical perfection and on a decisive figurative trend. In addition to Giovanni Acci, Pietro Annigoni, Gregorio Sciltian, Xavier and Antonio Bueno were also part of the group.
Right from the start, the group did not appear particularly cohesive. In fact, it was not dissolved until two years later, following the last exhibition held in May 1949 at the Saletta in Modena. The frontispiece of the catalogue bears a work by Giovanni Acci, L’incappato. After his experience with the Pittori Moderni della Realtà (Modern Painters of Realism), the Florentine artist moved to Versilia, in Pietrasanta, encouraged by one of his major collectors, Sandro Rubboli.
Until his last years, the painter’s language continued to be based on an impeccable technique, on the solemn plasticism of the figures and on the sibylline representation of a reality that was objective and mysterious at the same time. In 1951, he held an important solo exhibition at the Casa di Dante in Florence, followed by numerous exhibitions not only in Italy, but also in America, Canada, Switzerland and Germany. After his death in 1979, his works were exhibited in the Exhibition of Modern Painters of Reality, held in 1984 at Palazzo Vecchio.