Studio: international art — 88.1924

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(Venice Biea. Exhn. 1924)

M.A. a a a 0 0 a

IN my previous notice of this exhibition,
sent from Venice in May last, while
giving some account of the foreign pavilions
and more generally of the Italians them-
selves, I reserved for special attention the
work of certain artists expressive of
tendencies which have special interest in
themselves or in relation to possible future
developments. a 0 a a

Among these I mentioned Armando
Spadini, whose work contains qualities of
extraordinary pictorial merit, and the
figure paintings by Romagnoli, who has

since then received a very high award,
an honour to himself and to Italian art,
in the Pittsburgh Exhibition. In this work
of Spadini there is immense sensibility in
material objects. He revels in their actual
quality, their colour and texture. His
subjects here are mostly taken from his
own domestic circle, not necessarily an
inspiring theme, but his delight in their
presentment is infectious, and the pictorial
quality, the actual paint work, is superb.

Against this splendidly material art I had
placed in my previous notice a group of
the younger figure artists, among whom I
suggested as leading figures Felice Casorati
and Ubaldo Oppi. Casorati's work has
been known to these Venice Biennials for
many years, even before he made his
success with the Signorine, in 1912.
He goes back to the Primitives now for
his inspiration. The paintings shown here
—the nudes of Meriggio and his Concerto,
the admirable portraits of the Gualino
family, most directly of all the Madre and
the Double Portrait of an elderly man and
lady—recall to us that great Umbrian,
Piero della Francesca. His technique in
these paintings, as I found on enquiry
from the artist himself, is rarely oil, but
in most cases tempera, which gives them
their clean, precise quality ; but what is
of special significance is that this art is
intellectual in its conception, and, like
that of Ubaldo Oppi and others, goes back
to the old tradition of form—which in this
classic land belongs to the very soil, and
was certain, sooner or later, to call for
expression. The painter Oppi finds this
too in the twenty-three paintings here in
his individual room, in his Awakening of
Diana with its cold colour and good
drawing ; in the portrait of his wife and
in the Due Amiche and Femmina Bionda. a

Here, then, we have traced two different
currents of Italian art in this Biennial :
the exuberant impressionism of Spadini,
the intellectual study of form, based on
the tradition of the Primitives such as
Piero or even Mantegna, in Casorati, Oppi,
perhaps also Marussig and others. But
there is another current of no less interest
which cannot be overlooked, for it is
surely influencing the art of modern
Italy. It is to be regretted that Pietro
Gaudenzi is not represented in this
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