Fausto Pirandello (1899 – 1975) was one of the most important and influential painters working in Italy between the 1930s and the 1950s. This, the first exhibition to be devoted to his work in the UK, presents the work of a figure who was central to Italian culture during the mid-twentieth century but who is perhaps less familiar outside his native country than his famous father, the dramatist and writer Luigi Pirandello. The exhibition runs from 8 July – 6 September 2015 at the Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art in London.
Comprising some 50 works, the show includes many of Pirandello’s masterpieces in this complete overview spanning his entire career. Like Lucian Freud, Fausto Pirandello’s vision of reality was raw, carnal and unflinchingly objective. Among the key works on display are Women with Salamander (1928-30), Gymnasium (c. 1934), The Staircase (1934), Drought (1936-37), Women Combing their Hair (c. 1937), The Models (1945), Through the Spectacles (1953-54) and Bathers on the Beach (c. 1961).
Oil on canvas, 106 x 100 cm
Interior in the Morning, 1931
Oil on canvas, 178 x 151 cm
Centre Pompidou, Paris
Musée national d’art moderne / Centre de création industrielle
Golden Rain, c. 1933
Oil on board, 100.5 x 130 cm
Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna, Rome
Gymnasium (Athletes – Athletes in a Gymnasium), c. 1934
Oil on board, 163 x 113 cm
Oil on board, 155 x 155 cm
Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna, Rome
Befana in Piazza Navona, c. 1951
Oil on board, 99 x 71 cm
Bathers on the Beach (Large Bathers), c. 1961
Oil on board, 103 x 150 cm
Private collection, Rome
Fausto Pirandello was born in Rome in 1899 and began to devote himself to painting immediately after the First World War. His attention to unsettling details, use of diagonal compositions and uncompromising realism meant that his style was at odds with the prevailing spirit of the ‘return to order’. He became one of the leading figures associated with the important Scuola Romana during the early 1930s, rejecting the classicism typical of the Novecento group which had dominated the art of the preceding decade.
Between 1928 and 1930 Pirandello lived in Paris, where his work underwent a decisive change following his contact with the ‘Italiens de Paris’, and his imagery began to acquire an almost surreal character, despite its focus on harsh reality and use of a technique informed by the heavy textures of Cubist painting.
Returning to Rome in early 1931 Pirandello adopted a resolutely personal artistic approach, creating enigmatic compositions which are remarkable for their spatial ambiguity, lack of readily identifiable meanings and sense of existential drama, free from any narrative elements.
During the post-war years Pirandello continued along his independent course, keeping his distance from the main trends and groups that emerged in Italy at the time. Between the late 1940s and the early 1950s he developed a new style grounded in the use of broken, agitated planes and elliptic, expressionistic geometry.
From the 1920s onward Pirandello participated in all of the most important Italian exhibitions, such as the Venice Biennale and the Rome Quadriennale, and his work was also included in many international shows. He was a constant voice in Italy’s cultural debate, espousing a consistently modern and international outlook.
The exhibition has been curated by Fabio Benzi and organised by the Estorick Collection in collaboration with the Fondazione Fausto Pirandello; the catalogue will include essays by the curator as well as Francesco Leone and Flavia Matitti, a member of the Associazione Fausto Pirandello, which has kindly supported the exhibition.
About the Estorick Collection
The Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art is internationally renowned for its core of Futurist works. It comprises some 120 paintings, drawings, watercolours, prints and sculptures by many of the most prominent Italian artists of the Modernist era. There are six galleries, two of which are used for temporary exhibitions. Since opening in 1998, the Estorick has established a reputation and gained critical acclaim as a key venue for bringing Italian art to the British public.