Article by Vittorio Sgarbi on “Il Giornale” – 19/12/2012
Event: Mart’s acquisitions are on show. Works by eight authors enrich the Trentino museum. Now exhibiting them in its spaces
The richness and power of a museum can be seen in its collections.
Over the years with works owned by the Province, and has collected donations and grants to become one of the museums with the greatest number of modern art works. Few of the works are on display, but many are in storage, and can be used for exchanges and loans during exhibitions. My presidency has also distinguished itself for the increase in purchases that intensify and broaden our interests. It is therefore with satisfaction that I wanted to publicise these important acquisitions, displaying them in the museum itinerary.
We begin with a very unusual Giovanni Fattori, a painter who was absent from the collections and who is perhaps the most representative master of Italian painting after the Unification of Italy, whose epic deeds he illustrated. Large in size and unusually vertical, the Landscape with Oxen at Sunset is a singularly virtuosic and originally experimental exercise, with a heraldic composition and a glazed surface. An unusual and airy solution, in the pure landscape genre, with an unusual momentum, the masterful result eludes all descriptivism for an almost unconscious symbolist vocation, of great elegance.
Franz von Stuck’s Dancer, conceived in 1897-1898, at the height of the Munich Secession and the year in which the artist married Mary Lindpaintner, certainly has an international flavour, in full symbolism. The sculpture is part of the project for Villa Stuck, the precious atelier-house conceived and built by the artist himself in an imposing neoclassical style. Stuck designed both the architectural forms, inspired by a painting by Böcklin, Villa sul mare, and the interior decorations, furniture, paintings and sculptures, for which he was awarded a gold medal at the 1900 Universal Exhibition in Paris. It is noteworthy that the sculpture, on display in the exhibition dedicated by the Mart to Isadora Duncan, dialogues with the Trentino works of Luigi Bonazza, who was studying in Vienna in those same years.
Bartolomeo Bezzi’s view Poetry of the River – Verona is precious and pearly, with the almost monochrome effect of a grey foggy day. A very poetic and evocative painting that eschews any complacency to express a state of mind of anxiety and disturbance. Its execution corresponds to the moment of the nervous crisis that struck the painter in 1914. Certainly not showy or descriptive, Bezzi’s view goes back to Turner’s foggy visions, with an atmosphere similar to that of Nolde’s and Permeke’s landscapes, intercepting a Nordic vocation that is very unusual in Italian landscape painting. The work appears significant and useful in view of the celebrations of the centenary of the painter’s death in 2023.
The large sculpture by Libero Andreotti Perdono (tragic group), moulded on both sides, is very important and remarkable, by another artist absent from the collections. It is a fundamental testimony of the relationship between the sculptor and Ugo Ojetti in the germinal moment (1921) of the return to order, which characterised the third decade of the School. The rethinking of 15th-century sculpture indicates a path followed, with different results, in the same years by Arturo Martini. I would like to point out that, on the occasion of the first modern monographic exhibition of the artist, which I curated in 1993 at Castello della Mesola, I came across the plaster cast of the sculpture, singularly patinated in gold, the current location of which I do not know. The bronze has a concentrated power in the gesture of the mother welcoming her repentant daughter. On the one hand we see the dog, a friendly domestic presence; on the other, with vivid evocative suggestion, “the child who will be born”, as Ojetti himself writes, already standing between the two women, fills with his fat and prosperous little body, with his high arms, with his round and laughing face, the gap between the two skirts”. And he adds, convinced of the originality of the invention: “Some excessive hardness in the face of the old woman and the child do not diminish the continuity of the line and the poetry of this work where the narrative and plastic elements are classically balanced”. In reality, it is a powerful anti-classical enterprise, in those years, perhaps due to Bourdelle’s vivid suggestion, crossed with the Italian tradition of Jacopo della Quercia.Another familiar theme, but without the power of drama, is Arturo Noci’s Portrait of Marcella Rossellini (1922). The marvellous background, vaguely inspired by chinoiserie, against which the young girl dressed in white with her dog poses, poetically enriches one of the painter’s highest inventions, and indicates his convinced attention to Klimt, moving in the wake of his late production. The sitter is Marcella Rossellini, sister of the famous film director Roberto, and, far removed from any style or trend, has an unusual bourgeois modernity, a formal cleanliness that naturally anticipates, without programmatic intentions, Sarfatti’s Novecento and Magic Realism, with disarming simplicity. The Mart is preparing an exhibition on the great Austrian painter’s fortunes in Italy, in which this work will be supremely representative.
In the same spirit, the large and marvellous decorative panel with the façade of St. Mark’s Basilica by Guido Marussig, destined for the Turin home of the painter Golia, a ceramist and friend of the artist from Trieste, has already won a place in the permanent collections. A masterpiece of high decoration, halfway between the taste of Klimt and Zecchin and that of D’Annunzio, the glittering painting transfers the enchantment of Venice into the dream of one night.
A fortunate circumstance also brought to the Mart the two beautiful musical still lifes by Guido Marussig’s brother, Piero, which accompanied the rediscovery of 17th-century Italian art, following the exhibition at Palazzo Pitti in 1922, in the climate that would lead in those years to the rediscovery of Caravaggio. Among the group of 20th-century artists, Marussig showed himself to be the most sensitive to painting inspired by antiquities.
inspiration, moving in the spirit of Cristoforo Munari and Evaristo Baschenis. Also by Marussig was acquired the preparatory drawing for the painting Autunno (Autumn), belonging to the Mart collection.
The series of purchases concluded with a powerful, anti-rhetorical sculpture, in the midst of Fascism, such as the Head of a Boxer by the great and forgotten sculptor Romeo Gregori. One of the most original and expressive sculptures of the 1930s. It is a boxer who has been beaten, “an effective counterpoint to the exaltation of sporting activity and physical perfection used by the regime as a propaganda tool” (Beatrice
Avanzi). Years ago, in Vicenza, at an exhibition dedicated to Mario Mirko Vucetich, who had shared a studio in Villa Strohl-Fern with Gregori, I recognised a specimen of this singular sculpture which had lost the identity of its creator and is now in the Cavallini-Sgarbi foundation. I could not have imagined that destiny would allow me to find another version for the Mart, bearing witness to the hidden greatness of a hidden artist.