Memo Vagaggini was born in Santa Fiora, near Grosseto, in 1892. He approached painting as a self-taught artist, inspired by the flourishing, verdant and idyllic nature of the Tuscan Maremma. Concentrating above all on the value of light and the effects it produces, he immediately became an interpreter of a landscape painting constructed on a succession of planes that fit together like luminous inlays.
The Maremma landscape: a clear, luminous painting
A silent, almost solemn lyricism pervades Memo Vagaggini’s plains and pinewoods, interrupted here and there by isolated farmhouses, which stand out against clear, serene seascapes or landscapes, where nothing seems to be out of place. Through the clear, warm and full light, the landscape is always inserted in a mental and natural order that Vagaggini inherited from the Macchiaioli but modified in the solid and clean language of the 20th century.
In 1929, he made his debut at the Regional Exhibition of Tuscan Art with a Tuscan Landscape accompanied by a Landscape in Val d’Aosta. But before this exhibition experience, the painter had devoted himself to the frescoes on the Life of Saint Francis in the church of Castelnuovo in Arezzo. He taught painting at the Accademia di Firenze and remained there for many years, participating in all the Tuscan Trade Unions, as well as the Venice Biennale and the Quadrennial Exhibitions in Rome.
Balance and lyricism
Maremma, Cypresses and Laguna at Orbetello appeared at the Sindacale in Florence in 1930, while he exhibited Maremma – Bocca d’Ombrone at his first Biennale in 1932. A balanced placement of tones and an emotional sensitivity to light are the elements that distinguish Memo Vagaggini’s poetics, in constant memory of the intimate evocations of the Piagentina School. Sernesi’s illuminated roofs and Signorini’s views return, but with a more “geometric” layout.
Examples of this are paintings such as Street of Quercianella from the Mostra Interprovinciale d’Arte Toscana of 1934, or Embroiderer presented at the Sindacale di Torino the following year. The latter seems to bring back memories of the delicate atmospheres of the female activities described by Borrani, but transported into a solid 20th century that also looks to the trends of the return to order.
Marina and Self-Portrait appeared at the 1935 Quadriennale in Rome, Marina with boat and Maremma at the 1939 Quadriennale. This intense exhibition activity gradually became more sparse around the 1940s. His last important appearance was at the Quadriennale di Roma in 1943, where he presented Around Empoli, Empoli landscape and Still life. He died in Florence in 1955.