Magazine of art press and reviews from London
David Franchi – Wednesday, 16th September 2015.
While the Estorick Collection exhibition was the first solo in London and the UK, Fausto Pirandello was a dominant figure in the Italian art environment spanning four decades from early 1930s until his death in 1975.
The fame of Fausto Pirandello has been dwarfed by his father’s figure, the famous Luigi, Nobel Prize awarded, a key figure of the literature of Italy of all time.
The work of Fausto Pirandello was one of the most interesting of its time. He was able to master many styles, but always elaborating them through his personal approach and taste.
During his life Pirandello lived in different places, always absorbing ideas and inspiration from the surrounding atmosphere, rendering through its own personal filter. He was born in Rome, on 17 June 1899. He was the youngest son of his relatives, both natives of Agrigento, in Sicily. Therefore, he spent his childhood in between Rome and holidays in Sicily, land that inspired him the usage of those nuances and colours of his featured painting.
After serving in the army during the First World War, Pirandello started to dedicate himself to painting. His first art teacher was Lipinsky (1919) symbolist sculptor and engraver. In 1922, he enrolled at the Scuola d’Arte agli Orti Sallustiani, opened in Rome by Felice Carena, Attilio Selva and Orazio Amato, where he learned a more international style, mitigating his own Mitteleuropean approach. There, he met the painters Cavalli, Martinelli and Capogrossi. Together they spent long summer holidays in Anticoli Corrado, a village located in Alta Valle Aniene, where Carena was resident.
In Anticoli Corrado, in 1924 Pirandello opened his first studio. There he also met Pompilia D’Aprile, who married in 1927. She was a former fashion model posing for painters Francesco Trombadori and Amleto Cataldi. The marriage was kept secret to his father until 1930. They had two children, Pierluigi and Antonio.
In 1925 Pirandello makes its first public appearance at the Terza Biennale Romana, with ‘Bagnanti’. The following year, he is at the XV Biennale Internazionale d’Arte della Città di Venezia.
In 1927, Fausto Pirandello settled in Paris with his wife Pompilia. He resides in Montparnasse and takes a small studio in Montrouge. The trip is an attempt to get away from the psychological conditioning of the father. A real escape then, but it was also an opportunity to find new ideas for his painting. In Paris he follows the group of Italiens de Paris, especially De Chirico and De Pisis, and get in contact with the works of Cézanne, the Cubists and the École de Paris.
In 1930, Pirandello and his family are definitely back in Rome with his family, but spending summers in Anticoli Corrado. During 1930s, he exhibited frequently in Rome. While maintaining an individual path, he is into the Scuola Romana, within which was closer to the group of so-called Tonalists.
Since the 1930’s, and until his death in 1975 in Rome, Pirandello participates in exhibitions and receives awards.
The exhibition at the Estorick Collection was very comprehensive, displaying almost all his important works, for example, ‘Composizioni’ (1928), Vista delle Cupole di S. Spirito (1932), and Bagnanti sulla Spiaggia (1961).
Comprising some fifty works, among the other most important on display were Women with Salamander (1928-30), Interior in the Morning (1931), Golden Rain (c. 1933), Gymnasium (c. 1934), The Staircase (1934), Drought (1936-37), Women Combing their Hair (c. 1937), Bathers (1938-40), The Models (1945), Befana in Piazza Navona (c. 1951), and Through the Spectacles (1953-54).
His works reflected his periods in a sort of contamination between the artist and the environment. For example, the Scuola Romana privileged an untamed, disorderly style. The exploration of reality became the leading focus of his work. His preferred subject was the human figure, that he analysed from a corporeal point of view rather than psychological. These inscrutable compositions are notable for their spatial uncertainty, lack of easily specific significance, calm monumentality and sense of existential drama, free from any narrative element.
Between the 1930s and 1950s Pirandello produced a number of psychologically powerful figurative works, which often depicted women in different stripped situations. At the Estorick Collection, particularly with Nude in Perspective (1923) visitors made a sort of parallel between Fausto Pirandello and Lucian Freud. Both they developed a very similar style. It is unknown, if they ever met, but being Freud 23 years younger to Pirandello, and born in 1922, it should be possible that Freud took inspiration by Pirandello, rather then the opposite.
The exhibition has been curated by Fabio Benzi and organised by the Estorick Collection, London, in collaboration with the Fondazione Fausto Pirandello.
The exhibition Fausto Pirandello was at the Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art, Canonbury Square, London, from 8th July until 6th September 2015.