MAGNELLI Alberto
Italian painter; born in 1888 in Florence, died in 1971. After having studied in technical schools, Magnelli devoted himself to painting, away from all academies and professors. In his early work he moved from a naturalistic style to one influenced by Futurism and then Cubism. In 1915 he associated with the Futurists Boccioni, Carrà, Marinetti, Papini and Soffici, but without belonging to their movement, and his own experimentation stemmed from other preoccupations. During a stay in Paris, from February to June 1914, he made friends with the poets Apollinaire and Max Jacob, and the painter Fernand Léger. He painted a series of large still lifes and compositions of very simplified human figures in Florence. This synthesis of severe forms led him, in 1915, to his first complete abstractions, in which bright colours were applied flat. After this period of extreme severity, he returned in 1918 to a semi-representational way of painting, very violent both in colour and in form. From 1920 to 1930 he painted several series of figures and landscapes, extremely architectural in composition and clear and sober in colour. In 1931 he reverted to abstraction with a new style, which had long been ripening, opening with the so-called 'stone' period, in which his forms recalled shattered rocks. He arrived in 1933 at a total abstractionism, resting upon no theory but still based upon imagined figures. During the Second World War he stayed at Grasse, in the south of France, together with Arp, Sophie Taeuber-Arp and Sonia Delaunay.
Magnelli's art strives to rediscover the pure and archetypal forms which lie behind superficial sense-impressions. If he brings to mind the ideal abstraction of mathematical figures, he always provides sensory and plastic equivalents, for he does not think that a picture can be only a blueprint. In him there is a creative will as far removed as possible from the fortuitous, and a health and natural strength that prevent even his most enigmatic forms from ever being meaningless or literary.
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