Vita Gazette

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Massimo Campigli and the Etruscans: A pagan happiness

Vita gazette – The exhibition “Massimo Campigli and the Etruscans: a pagan happiness” closes one, inaugurated last May 22 and open to visitors until January 16 Palazzo Franchetti in Venice. The exhibition was extended on request on 20 September 2021.

The Etruscan fascination

In 1928 Massimo Campigli made a trip to Italy with his wife Dutza to visit relatives in Florence; in the summer he goes to Rome and, visiting the National Etruscan Museum of Villa Giulia, he is fascinated by Etruscan art. Evidently impressed by the ancient frescoes, the painter modifies his way of painting, bringing his painting technique closer to fresco, using a few colors and geometrizing figures and objects. The painter’s artistic journey leads him to repudiate his previous pictorial experiences, which he himself will define “contradictory attempts”, to the point of repainting his old canvases. “In my paintings a pagan happiness entered both in the spirit of the subjects and in the spirit of the work that became the more free and lyrical”. It is with these words that Massimo Campigli himself describes the visit to the Etruscan Museum of Villa Giulia in Rome in 1928, attributing to it a fundamental value for the development of the more mature phase of his artistic production. And it is from these words that the exhibition at Palazzo Franchetti in Venice takes shape, which aims to offer itself as a true dialogue between the works of the master and the examples of the past from which he drew such strong inspiration.

The approximately 35 works by Campigli selected for the exhibition are flanked by about fifty finds from the Etruscan civilization, many of which unpublished and exhibited here for the first time.

The deliberately archaic compositions of Campigli, well represented in the exhibition with paintings ranging from 1928 to 1966, find the origins of their deepest inspiration in the Etruscan finds on display with which a natural sharing of atmospheres, signs and colors is established.

The typological richness of the exhibits on display – from vases to figurines, from jewels to sarcophagi, etc. – it allows to trace an alphabet and a universe of links which, starting from general evocations, are declined in precise references in the different sections of the exhibition: the first dedicated to the human figure, divided into men and women; the second to animals, composed of birds, horses, wild animals and finally the third with shapes and geometries.


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