Museo Revoltella
 
Leonor Fini, an italian in Paris
[Dal 05 luglio 2009 al 18 ottobre 2009]
Trieste, Museo Revoltella
A cura di: Maria Masau Dan

 “Leonor Fini, an Italian in Paris

Museo Revoltella – Galleria d’arte moderna

Trieste

5 July – 18 October 2009

 

Trieste, the city in which Leonor Fini (1907-1996) spent the first 20 years of her life and where, thanks to the friendship of some local artists, she discovered her vocation for painting, is dedicating a major exhibition to her work. Through a selection of paintings, drawings, books and photographs, the exhibition aims to present a highly unusual and long-lived artistic career, marked by numerous events and important relationships; a career that began in Italy in the 1930s and continued with success in Paris, where the artist lived for over 50 years, and where she died in 1996.

The exhibition is held in the spaces on the fifth and sixth floor of the modern art gallery, in close contact with the permanent display, which includes 19th and 20th-century works that Fini would certainly have seen as an adolescent, and which were probably important for her training, given that the painter may be regarded as a self-taught artist, even though she had some teachers in Trieste in the 1920s.

The exhibition highlights the distinct phases of her long artistic career.

 

YOUTH IN TRIESTE: THE FAMILY AND INTELLECTUAL BACKGROUND, TRAINING, FRIENDSHIPS

This section aims to reconstruct the background in which Leonor Fini grew up, in contact with the intellectual bourgeoisie of the years immediately prior to and following the First World War, which saw Trieste leave the Hapsburg empire and join the Kingdom of Italy.

Leonor Fini became close friend with such artists as Arturo Nathan and Carlo Sbisà, and frequented the homes of writers like Italo Svevo and Umberto Saba. From Nathan, she acquired a particular interest in the metaphysical art of de Chirico and the depiction of the ego through fantastic visions. She exhibited alongside these artists in the first exhibitions to be organized in Trieste by the “Sindacato fascista di belle arti” (“Fascist union of fine arts”), from 1928 to 1930. And she was with them again at the exhibition organized in Milan by the Galleria Barbaroux in 1929.

In the exhibition, this phase is documented by Fini’s works from 1925 to 1929, comprising portraits above all, along with paintings by Nathan and Sbisà, including the portrait they dedicated to her in 1929. A space is dedicated also to her relationship with her first master, Edmondo Passauro, and Felicita Frai, a friend and rival, of whom Fini painted a portrait, which is also on display.

 

LEONOR FINI IN MILAN IN THE “NOVECENTO” YEARS. HER WORK WITH ACHILLE FUNI. 

Fini’s contact with Milan was very important for the affirmation of the young artist’s style and the perfection of her linguistic tools. With a determination that was unusual for her age and the period, she moved to Milan, then a lively centre of artistic experimentation and the centre of activities for the group of “Novecento” artists. She became friends with Achille Funi and began working alongside him in the production of major mural paintings for the IV Triennale. Together with Funi, she travelled to Rome, Ferrara and Paris, to which she moved definitively in the early 1930s. Fini’s works of this period (cartoons for frescos, sketches, etc.) are on display near Funi’s.

 

 “LEONOR ET LES ITALIENS DE PARIS”. HER CONTACT WITH SURREALISM.

In 1931 Leonor Fini moved to Paris, where she became friends with the Parisian intellectuals of the 1930s, and in particular with the surrealist circle. She mixed with leading personalities such as Max Ernst, Paul Éluard Georges Bataille, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Salvador Dalí and André Pieyre de Mandiargues, a poet and writer and close friend of her until 1950, who is represented in the exhibition with four portraits.

 

IN ROME DURING THE WAR (1943-1946)

Leonor Fini spent a couple of years in Rome, from 1943 to 1946. This was a brief but intense period during which she formed lifelong friendships: among these were artists such as Fabrizio Clerici, but also exponents of literature like Elsa Morante and Alberto Moravia, and leading lights in society and cinema (Anna Magnani, Alida Valli, Mita Corti, Simonetta Colonna di Cesarò, Esmeralda Ruspoli) to whom she dedicated refined and highly-admired portraits, some of which are showed in the exhibition.

 

LEONOR FINI IN PARIS FROM THE 1950S ONWARDS

After the end of the war, Leonor Fini returned to Paris and remained there for the rest of her life. She rediscovered old friends and formed new bonds, working intensely on various fronts: painting, theatre, illustration, enjoying increasing acclaim from critics and collectors. Her ambiguous, mysterious painting fed from an extraordinary capacity to look beyond appearances, to plumb the depths of human fears, to give form to dreams.

Surrounded by faithful friends and bevies of admirers, Leonor Fini was also at ease in society and fashion circles, always bearing with her a touch of originality and eccentricity.

 

LEONOR FINI AS ILLUSTRATOR

From 1940s onwards Leonor Fini has illustrated more than a hundred books, from the works by past authors (Shakespeare, Sade, Baudelaire, Poe, Flaubert) till those by her contemporaries and friends (Jean Genet, André Pieyre de Mandiargues, Jacques Audiberti). Showing around fifty precious editions, this exhibition presents the largest section on Fini’s illustrated books ever.

 

LEONOR FINI AS SET-DESIGNER AND COSTUME DESIGNER

Fini’s activity as the creator of sets and costumes took place between the 1940s and 1960s in Rome, Milan, London and Paris. Although a less important part of her activity, her commitment to theatre appears to be a fundamental feature of her work, fed by an innate aptitude for masking, for fiction, as a result of which she revealed an extraordinary talent in this field too.

On display are the sketches for sets and costumes of her principal works for the theatre.

 

LEONOR FINI AND PHOTOGRAPHY

Leonor Fini had many and fruitful contacts with photographers from the 1930s onwards. The exhibition shows a selection of the most charming portrait photos by Cartier-Bresson, Richard Overstreet, André Ostier, Veno Pilon, Arturo Ghergo, Erwin Blumenfeld and Eddy Brofferio, highlighting her exceptional talent as sitter and the artistic quality of the images, many of which veritable masterpieces.

 

LEONOR FINI AND THE OTHER ARTISTS

Besides the artists known in her youth and in her home town, Leonor Fini meets in her whole life many painters who are decisive for her life and, partially, for the development of her artistic language. A section of the exhibition gathers a series of paintings from the 1930s to the 1990s by Italian and foreign surrealist painters who were Fini’s friends. Here are shown many works by Stanislao Lepri, Enrico Colombotto Rosso and Fabrizio Clerici, artists who were very close to Fini both by a personal and professional point of view and used to meet in summer in the monastery of Nonza, and further Paul Tchelitchew, Jan Lebenstein, Michèle Henricot and Dorothea Tanning.

A painting by Eros Renzetti, friend of last years, closes symbolically this section of the exhibition.




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