The Arturo Martini Collection
Palazzo Viani Dugnani
Via Ruga 44 - Verbania
+39 0323 557116, +39 0323 502254
THE ARTURO MARTINI COLLECTION
The last room focuses on Arturo Martini, one of the museum collection’s fundamentally important elements: the work selected covers the whole of the sculptor’s career and is organised chronologically.
The young ‘heads’ The Uncle (1927) and La Scoccombrina (1927), together with The Desperate Woman (1929) and the later La Cicci (i.e. Egle Rosmini, 1937) express the artist’s ability to work with a range of materials (terracotta, bronze, wood) and his extraordinary ability to grasp influences by other artists and movements including from the past (the former two sculptures are decidedly Expressionist in style while La Cicci seems to echo Medardo Rosso’s 19th century experiments).
From the 1930s onwards Martini developed an artistic language characterised by small figurines (in quasi juxtaposition to the monumental work done as official art for the regime) which sometimes encompasses references to the artistic tradition of previous centuries. This is, for example, the case of The Cart (1933-1934), where a body held up by four men (in the wake of a mining accident) would seem to contain allusions to Renaissance Deposition images.
Sometimes, by contrast, the sculptor draws on ancient sacred traditions for a repertoire of images and situations: The Visitation (1936) is thus a chance to show an embrace between two women, while the Prodigal Son (1933) shows a father-son embrace and the Rape of the Sabine Women (1938) depicts a chaotic and frenzied battle scene.
A further three paintings are on show between the windows – The Jockey (1939), Tennis at the Lido (1940) and Green Landscape (1946) – testifying to the artist’s relationship with painting from the 1930s onwards, to mixed critical reception.
Martini was born in Treviso in 1889 to a poor family. During his youth he began attending evening drawing school and exhibited his first terracotta creations in shop windows in his home town. In 1907 he attended the Treviso studio of sculptor Antonio Carlini and the following year he studied in Venice at Urbano Nono. He exhibited his youthful sculpture and ceramography masterpieces at the 1st Ca’ Pesaro exhibition.
Called up in 1916 he succeeded in avoiding the front and moved to Vado Ligure where he met his future wife Brigida Pessaro and, while in Faenza, modelled ceramics and published Contemplations, a book with no words or images featuring simply black nicks against a white background.
In 1920 he married Brigida and joined the Valori Plastici group as its only sculptor and with it took part in a travelling exhibition in Germany and later held a solo exhibition at Primaverile Fiorentina. In 1923 he accepted his first public commission with a war memorial in Vado Ligure. From 1921 to 1928 he divided his time between Vado Ligure, Rome and Anticoli Corrado, producing graphics and painting, techniques which gave him access to a wider market.
In 1929, on one hand Guido Balsamo Stella invited him to Istituto Statale per le Industrie Artistiche in Monza and, on the other, met Egle Rosmini who he lived with until 1946 whilst maintaining contact with his family.
After a period of creative crisis Martini took part in a range of exhibitions – obtaining a first prize at the Rome Quadriennial – alternating terracotta work in refractory clay and stone from the Final Ligure quarries and Carrara marble.
In 1941 he accepted a teaching post at the Venice Accademia but soon had to find others to replace him as a result of the large numbers of civic work commissions coming his way. In 1944 he definitively brought his Accademia lessons to an end with a public declaration of the “death of sculpture”, a remark which was published in the book La Scultura Lingua Morta – Sculpture, a Dead Language – entrusted to Silvio Branzi.
Returning to Milan in 1946 he made a group of terracotta sculptures, most of which he gave to Galleria del Milione while others were sent to his wife and Egle Rosmini who had retired to Selasca (Verbania), her town of birth, on Lake Maggiore.
Having decided to return to his family in Vado Ligure, the artist died suddenly in Milan in 1947.
After Arturo Martini’s death Egle Rosmini devoted her life to safeguarding his memory.
In 1979 she donated five plaster works to the Pallanza Museo del Paesaggio and proposed the purchase of five engravings, five etchings, a lithograph and ten stone paper works from the unpublished Viaggio d’Europa, four bronze medals, eight sculptures, nine paintings and eleven drawings.
€5 full price
Entrance tickets include a visit to the Gipsoteca Troubetzkoy, the art gallery and the Martini Collection.