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The Macchiaioli. The adventure of modern art


From19 November 2021
until5 June 2022


The adventure of modern art
In pre-unification Italy, Florence, the capital of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, became the place for the birth of this innovative art movement. Artists moved away from the painting of the Academy and preferred the daily life scenes, simple and unconventional, painted with color patches.

Palazzo Mazzetti will display more than eighty paintings signed by Giovanni Fattori, Silvestro Lega, Telemaco Signorini, Giovanni Boldini and some other protagonists of the artistic movement that revolutionized the history of Italian post-unification painting.

Formed in Florence, starting in 1855, the Macchiaioli group was born as a reaction to the conceptual and formal inertia of academies and specularly to the ideological ferment of Risorgimento. Macchiaioli’s movement affirmed the “stain” theory, claiming a vision of solid forms determined by projection of light on them; in this way light creates areas of shadow and brightness, constructing the volumes visually.

Separated, combined or overlapped color spots were the constituent elements of small paintings of extreme synthesis, in which the forms and profiles were drawn precisely, although they were stripped of any descriptive detail that was not essential to the strictly expressive functions.

The artist, subverting the rigid academic dictates to which all painting of the time was based, declared himself free to represent with realist immediacy what his eye perceived in the present, as conceptualized by theorists and critics of the group: Telemaco Signorini, Diego Martelli and Adriano Cecioni.

They sensed the literary emotion of experimental novels written by Zola and Verga and the new naturalist sensibility floating, forming a real school that was able to marginalize the vaporous effects brought by Frenchist tendencies. They moulded an original and immediately recognizable style, based on the strict formal drawing and punctual representation of luministic values from real life, usually with a naturalistic or social background, related to contemporaneity, country life and middle class customs.

The exhibition
Designed to compare the leaders of Tuscan naturalism, the exhibition offers a visual narrative from the birth to the evolution and conclusion of the artistic experience of the Macchiaioli and their entourage, from 1856 to the late Twentieth century.

The exhibition recollects more than 80 highly significant works of the Tuscan leader’s production, including some fighters and heroes of Risorgimento, representing the forms of the nineteenth-century avant-garde, whose research and innovative content focus on the expressive power of light. This is an opportunity to rediscover some masterpieces of nineteenth-century Italian art, incorporating famous paintings and lesser-known or never before exhibited works, mostly coming from the most prestigious private collections in Europe.

Author list: Giuseppe Abbati, Cristiano Banti, Stefano Bruzzi, Giovanni Boldini, Luigi Bechi, Odoardo Borrani, Vincenzo Cabianca, Cesare Ciani, Adriano Cecioni, Eugenio Cecconi, Nino Costa, Vito D’Ancona, Serafino De Tivoli, Giuseppe De Nittis, Arturo Faldi, Giovanni Fattori, Ruggero Focardi, Luigi Gioli, Silvestro Lega, Giorgio Lucchesi, Giuseppe Magni, Ugo Manaresi, Ruggero Panerai.

The setting of the exhibition also includes videos, blow-ups and an immersive room to recreate the atmosphere of the landscapes and environments painted by Macchiaioli.

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