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"Woman in the Italian Art Nouveau": An exhibition at Ponti Art Gallery
Vittorio Grassi (Rome 1878 – 1958), Bright mystery. Oil on panel cm 266 x 145 signed lower right.© Ottocento Art Gallery.


ROME.- Ponti Art Gallery is offering important masterpieces coming from several private collections gathered in the usual monthly exhibition aimed to the sale. The selection starts from a bronze sculpture, made by Ercole Drei, a very sensitive sculptor, painter and draftsman, Faenza by birth but Roman by adoption, who was able to express his temperament with the same intensity both in the great works performed for public clients – to the city of Rome he left some of his most famous works – both in small sculptures appreciated by art lovers and intended for private use. Ponti Art Gallery presents The “Dancer with the circle” (1913) which is definitely stands out for the decorative taste of the dance step to which the female figure is forced, which turns towards a certain stylization, recognizable especially in the profile of the woman’s face and in the hands that support the circle: a tribute paid to the new suggestions, to which the artist willingly submits, certain of his technical skill, which allows him never to deny the anatomical correctness, well expressed in the figurine of the woman, from the smooth and error-free molding of the long legs and the supple back.

The further important artwork offered by Ponti Art Gallery is a monumental female portrait depicted by Vittorio Grassi, an artist close to Duilio Cambellotti into the finding an Italian way to the European Art Nouveau taste. “Bright Mistey” follows, indeed, a pre-Raphaelite line updated in a Déco key, which can be found above all in the forty original watercolors that Grassi created for a prestigious edition of Dante’s “Vita Nova”, published in 1921. It is within this last sensibility that this elegant, at the same time, majestic, squatting female figure, crossed by a sensual languor, accentuated by the transparency of the veil, illuminated by the glow that pervades a profound communion with nature can be inserted. Vittorio Grassi’s vein touches in this remarkable work the timbres of an increasingly boundless mysticism in the fable that cancels any conflict between reality and unreality, in which scene and event are out of time.

The selection of the proposal displayed by Ponti Art Gallery continues with a wonderful view of an important Oriental monument depicted by Russian painter Alessio Issupoff. The Shah-i-Zinda (“The Living King”) of Samarkand is, indeed, an ancient monumental necropolis, built from the IX century and used until the XIV century and, to a lesser extent, during the 19th century. It takes its name from the legend according to which Kusam ibn Abbas, cousin of the Prophet Muhammad and preacher of the law of Allah, was buried in the VII century. Composed of over twenty buildings that recall the architecture of the Registan and its madrasas, the complex of Shah-i-Zinda is divided substantially into three large parts, connected to each other by passages with four arches, called in the local language “chartak”, while the main entrance, the Darvazakhana (or First Chartak) dates back only to 1434-1435, and has monumental features enriched by marbles and polychrome mosaics. Just this ancient necropolis is the protagonist of the painting executed by the Russian painter Aleksej Vladimirovic Isupov (1889-1957).

Others important painting dated to the last years of the 19th century complete the exhibition: a view of Punta della Dogana depicted by Beppe Ciardi; an oil entitled “The Wall” by Llewelyn Lloyd and a series of four watercolours by Luigi Bazzani which show the ancient ruins of Pompei. On the other hand, a still life by Piero Marussig demonstrates the importance of this pictorial genre in the Italian painting of the first decade of the 20th century.

The selection of 20th century artworks closes the exhibition, with artworks by Corrado Cagli, Maria Lai and Mario Schifano: in particular, the work of the great Sardinian artist looks like a work that links history and legend, merging them into a calligram with great aesthetic and political value, entitled “The legend of the Castaway”, whose text, paginated on the sheet so as to give life to the image of the crown of a tree agitated by the wind, it takes up an ancient fairy tale.





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