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'From Alfredo Biagini to Toti Scialoja: A tale of 20th century Italian Art' on view at Ottocento Art Gallery
Toti Scialoja (Rome 1914 – 1998), Dark window. Oil on canvas cm 65 x 81 signed (Toti) and dated (54) lower right. © Ottocento Art Gallery.

ROME.- Ottocento Art Gallery has the privilege of offering important masterpieces coming from several private collections gathered in the usual monthly exhibition aimed to the sale. The selection starts from the masterpiece by Toti Scialoja, Dark window. The artist’s research continues, leading him to superimpose two of his pictorial passions: the aseptic rigorism of Morandi’s painting, with which Scialoja also has an interesting correspondence, and the deconstruction of the form of the works of the analytical cubism of Picasso and Braque. In the painting of this period (late 1940s-early 1950s) Scialoja, in fact, tends more and more to conceal form, shatter objects and visible data for that “abstract composition”, as the artist then specifies and which he will define, at starting from the mid-fifties, his new, original artistic language. Just this new artistic research characterized by an “abstract composition” is evident in the work presented here, executed in 1954 and donated by the artist the following year to the American art historian Milton Gendel, who in the summer of 1955 exalted the talent by the young Roman artist, reviewing his latest pictorial works in an article (“Scialoja Paints a Picture”) published in the New York magazine ARTnews, a magazine that contributed greatly to making Italian artists known in the USA.

The selection of the proposal displayed by Ottocento Art Gallery continues with a wonderful sculpture by the animalier Afredo Biaginim showing a little hamadryde. In particular, Alfredo Biagini for a long time dedicated himself to the theme of animals, depicting above all the felines and quadrumans that he interpreted, beyond the naturalistic objectivity of the subjects, with physiognomic and mimic characterizations: elements derived from the study of comparative anatomy and studies from true in zoos. At Villa Strohl-Fern, on the occasion of the IV International Exhibition of Art of the Roman Secession held in 1916, he exhibited the well-known marble sculpture veined the hamadryde, portrayed crouching with a fruit in hand, then re-proposed in numerous ceramic and other versions materials. This small production can be traced back to this small ceramic hamadryde, treated with glazes of different shades, from the collection of Cipriano Efisio Oppo. The choice of such a particular animal was part of Biagini’s more general interest in rare species and related to distant territories, which reflected the taste for the exotic of 19th century derivation, still strongly shared by the artists and the public of the time.

The further important artwork offered by Roman gallery is a remarkable oil painting masterpiece by Giovanni Costantini, “The Defense”, which communicates quite different feelings: in this composition the sense of tenacity, of strenuous resistance of the Italian soldiers in the trenches prevails who, in a post-apocalyptic scenario, make up a compact defensive line, dominated from above by an anthropomorphic cliff, probable allegory of turreted Italy. A masterpiece by Agostino Bonalumi closes the exhibition. At the beginning of the 1980s, and more precisely in 1983, dates back this shaped canvas: it was Bonalumi himself to clarify the process of making this type of composition in a written entitled “Dialectical Evolution”: “In the persistence of estroflexion change the technique, the means, the tools by which the surface is pushed outward, or pulled inward, creating the thought of a space behind the work. “The extroverted canvas represents “a methodological principle, a stylistic invention,” as Fiz pointed out, to realize the “overcome of the representational plane” through infinite declinations, such as “humanized geometry, even anthropomorphic”, always with formal and unshakeable consistency.

Within the exhibition on display further artworks by Maceo Casadei, Luca Pignatelli, Corrado Cagli, Francesco Ciusa and Luigi Preatoni. In particular, among Preatoni production is offered by Ottocento Art Gallery a work that is part of the most anecdotal production of the Turin sculptor, populated by flirtatious female figures, the object of the amorous desire of suitors who from time to time alternate in courtship scenes. The marble shows the graceful face of a girl, slightly turned to the left, framed by a showy wide-brimmed hat embellished with a bow, whose flap falls on the laced collar, a masterpiece of virtuosity in the use of the drill.

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'From Alfredo Biagini to Toti Scialoja: A tale of 20th century Italian Art' on view at Ottocento Art Gallery

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