CARRÀ Carlo
Italian painter, born at Quargnento in 1881. Carrà was one of the signers of the Futurist Manifesto (vide Futurism). He borrowed from Cubism its structure and monochromes, and tried, at the same time, to insert into its austere construction the crowd movements so dear to Futurist dynamism. He introduced whole words into his compositions. (The Cubists were content with a few letters.) The words do not merely have a lyrical quality; they exercise a sort of plastic magic. When, in 1916, Carrà made the acquaintance of Giorgio de Chirico, the originator of Metaphysical Painting, he believed he had at last found his true vocation: to rediscover the magic of painting by means of the representation of the most simple objects. He wrote: 'It is the most ordinary objects that fill the soul with grace. The artist who scorns them inevitably becomes absurd. On the artistic plane, as well as on the intellectual, his work is of no account. Ordinary things have that simplicity which is the very secret of the most sumptuous art.' When reproached for ceasing to paint that feverish life that he had exalted in his Futurist days, he replied: 'I don't see why mannequins, copper fishes, or maps, should be less worthy of study than the apples, bottles and pipes to which Cézanne owes his fame'. But for Carrà, as for Chirico, it was not just a matter of substituting dressmaker's dummies for Cézanne's apples. What they set out to find again was the magic that emanates from old paintings, and which the open-air painting of the Impressionists had dispelled. This magic was one of the effects of perspective, and the relationship between full and empty spaces in the composition of a picture. It is therefore through perspective that Chirico and Carrà wanted to renew the miracle of the Renaissance artists. Carrà's paintings of this period, less known abroad than Chirico's, are often more elaborate than those of his friend, to whom he obviously owes his first ideas. Carri rejected everything that Chirico took from the French and the Germans. He took his inspiration from Giotto, but not without a certain heaviness; from this point of view he is much more German than Chirico. Despite his heaviness, Carrà rediscovered the beauty of paint, the density of tones, and the preciousness of colour, all too neglected during the Futurist experiment. He, in his turn, set Chirico an example with his enchanted interiors and his enigmatic irony. Between 1921 and 1925 Carrà painted seascapes full of that magical feeling which, without repudiating the play of colour and light, without disregarding the problems of form and space, tries to reconcile the past and the present, the powerful art of Giotto and the living art of Cézanne.
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