VENTURI VENTURINO ©

"Shrapnels"

Artist:
Title:
Year: 1994
Medium:Oil on paper (monotype), with artist's frame
Dimension:85 x 92 cm
Status: Available
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VENTURI VENTURINO

Venturino Venturi was born on 6th April 1918 in Loro Ciuffenna, in the province of Arezzo, from his father Attilio, a professional stonemason, and his mother Primetta Gori. In 1921 Attilio, of socialist inspiration, was forced to leave Italy and take refuge in France, in Etain Meuse. He took a few things with him, but he did not give up a copy of the Divine Comedy and the Adventures of Pinocchio; these were the books on which his children would learn the Italian language. He settled in a makeshift house, a workers' hut, and was joined by his wife and his first three children (Venturino, Emilia and Giuseppa; Rina was born in Etain in 1923). A good worker, Attilio managed to set up a small business to work stone for the decoration of buildings, but soon decided to move to Luxembourg, in Esch sur Alzette, where he resumed his work as a stonemason. In Esch Venturino he attended the entire course of his studies up to technical school, graduating from high school. As soon as he was twelve years old, he began to follow his father in the construction sites and to try his hand at stone working. His first works are from this period, among which the "pheasant on the branch", made at the age of twelve in Savonniere stone, and bought by his chemistry professor, Professor Roger, who died dramatically in the Nazi camps. Once the technical schools were finished, Venturino evaluated the possibility of attending art schools in nearby Germany, but the description of his native Tuscany in the stories of his father, a great narrator, aroused in the young man the desire to get closer to the places where the great artists of the past were born and worked: Donatello, Michelangelo, Masaccio; all "born a few steps from my house", as Venturino used to say. His passion for the arts led him, therefore, in 1936, to choose Florence as his higher education centre, a city capable, in those years, of offering quality teaching in the artistic field. He first studied at the Art Institute of Porta Romana, then directed by Libero Andreotti, and then attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence under the guidance of Bruno Innocenti. His excellent knowledge of French, but above all of German, both Luxembourgish mother tongues, allowed him to get to know and attend foreign students, such as the recently deceased future Swiss sculptress, Priska von Martin, to whom Venturino became sentimentally attached for the whole time of his first Florentine acquaintances. In Florence Venturino used to sit at the historic café Le Giubbe Rosse, a meeting place for artists and men of letters. Here he met and frequented Ottone Rosai, Vasco Pratolini, Alessandro Parronchi, Mario Luzi, Carlo Bo, Piero Bigongiari, Eugenio Montale, Enrico Pea, Giuseppe Ungaretti and many others. This was also the era of the first portraits: Ottone Rosai (1938), Self-portrait (1939), My mother Beppina, Rina and Emilia (1943). This first Florentine "moment" was marked by the interweaving of youthful love passions with artistic activity, the latter however always in the foreground in the scale of the young artist's values, with continuous economic difficulties, forced to sell his first works in bars and on the street. In 1940 he was called to arms. Venturino accepted this onerous obligation with a certain pride, mindful of his father's heroic behaviour on the First World War front. He was sent to Albania, and his skills as a skilful draughtsman soon suggested to the Military Command to employ the young soldier in the dangerous task of detecting the deployment of enemy lines from above. Venturino is staying with three other comrades inside a barrack. It is winter and it snows a lot. The survey activity is carried out with extreme precision and punctuality, so much so that the Command issues a solemn commendation in his name. Unfortunately, shortly afterwards, the post is hit in full by a howitzer. Venturino is the only survivor of an attack that the rescuers thought no one had survived. Venturino spent a night immersed in the snow, on a mountain, with his right leg almost lost, only in the midst of the miserable scattered remains of his companions with whom only a few hours before he was sharing some cigarettes. Rescued the next morning, he is transferred to Italy where he will begin a long stay at the Careggi Hospital in Florence, where the leg will be recovered for use with a series of twenty-four operations skilfully carried out in order to reconstruct the injured bone parts. It is December 1940. Venturino nevertheless managed to take part in some important national exhibitions held between 1940 and 1943, in Bologna, Milan and Florence. In 1945, just a few days after the liberation of Florence, he held his first solo exhibition at the Galleria La Porta, where he exhibited sculptures, paintings, sketches and drawings, the synthesis of ten years of work. In 1947, he left Florence for Milan, where he met the most accomplished artists in formal research, including Lucio Fontana, who invited him to join the Manifesto of Spatialism. Venturino opposed this invitation, as he felt that such a choice would lead him to a "line-up" and a position in the Italian art scene that was absolutely not in line with his continuous research and experimentation. The two-year period 1947-49 was full of awards, in 1948 in Milan he won the Emilio Gariboldi prize for sculpture with a "self-portrait" in stone, participated in the competition for the Forte dei Marmi prize, and then won the St.Vincent prize. The early fifties saw him very much present in Florence, where he painted the portrait of Fiamma Vigo in 1950, which testifies to his frequentation of the Florentine gallery "Numero". However, Venturino went periodically to Luxembourg, where he left some important works. In 1953 Venturino took part in the international competition for a Monument to Pinocchio, organized by the Carlo Collodi National Foundation, in Collodi di Pescia (PT). Together with architects Renato Baldi and Lionello De Luigi, he presented the project for a mosaic "piazzetta", which in the original intentions was to open up towards Villa Garzoni, ideally continuing the path that descends from the fountain and allowing access to the Park via a bridge over the Pescia stream. Venturino won the first prize "ex aequo" with the sculptor Emilio Greco, creator of the statue dedicated to the Fairy, now placed at the entrance of the Park. From 1954 to 1956 he worked non-stop in the realization of his Piazzetta, which in the final version will be differently "oriented". The work, moreover, due to the ex aequo with the sculptor Emilio Greco, was destined to remain incomplete, foreseeing the project, in the centre of the Piazzetta, a "gnomon" Pinocchio which was never realized. Nevertheless, the work immediately appeared original and innovative, both for the technique used and the narrative structure, with the story of Pinocchio told through a free play of fantastic references. After completing the undertaking in 1956, Venturino continued his reflection on Pinocchio, which he studied in depth during his forced stay in Florence at the San Salvi Psychiatric Hospital, where he was hospitalised due to a very serious depression. During his stay in hospital, in fact, Venturino was allowed to make some large pastel and tempera drawings that are among his most significant works, on which the artist often reproduced the figure of Pinocchio, which was transfigured into a human effigy, now joyful or suffering. The artist is one of the most sensitive interpreters of the Collodian text, knowing how to grasp its exemplary literary and poetic message, where his soul is reflected, by singular consonance. 1957 is the only year during which Venturino does not produce any work. Immediately afterwards he resumed his activity. In 1959 he took part in the VIII Quadriennale in Rome and in 1960 the Galleria La Strozzina in Florence dedicated an important anthological exhibition to him, curated by Mario Bergomi, while the following year Carlo Ludovico Ragghianti presented his Monotypes at the Drawings and Prints Cabinet of the University of Pisa. In the following decades Venturino realized many works in Italy and abroad: sculptures, monuments, mosaics and murals. The sixties in particular saw him participate in national and international exhibitions. In 1961 Venturino was again involved in Luxembourg, in Schifflange, in the creation of one of the largest mosaics in Europe: a Crucifixion in the apse area of the local church. The mosaic was found in 2009, hidden behind a marble counter-wall, and is waiting to be unveiled again. Also in 1961 some of the sculptor's works arrived in the USA, in the Nicole Galerie in New York, which is no longer active today. In 1962 he took part in the 3rd International Biennial of Sculpture in Carrara and, in 1963, in the International Exhibition of Contemporary Art at Palazzo Strozzi in Florence, for which he designed the poster. These were also the years of important public works, including the 1963 Monument for the Victims of Nazism, now in P.za Tasso in Florence. The following seventies passed between the realisation of important public works and an intense exhibition activity in private galleries and public institutions. Among the most important works are the San Francesco e la lupa di Arezzo (1973) and the Monumento alla Resistenza (1978) by Loro Ciuffenna. The 1980s opened with the Monument to the Fallen of All Wars in Chitignano and the important anthological anthology of San Giovanni Valdarno in 1983, followed in 1988 by the exhibition held in Arezzo and largely dedicated to his graphic production. On 4th July 1991, in the presence of President Giorgio Napolitano, the great mural in Castelnuovo dei Sabbioni (over 60 metres) commissioned by the then Mayor of Cavriglia, Enzo Brogi, was inaugurated. It recalls the values of work and freedom and recalls the Nazi-Fascist massacre perpetrated on that community in July 1944. In 1993 the Venturino Venturi Museum in Loro Ciuffenna was opened; in 1999 the important anthological exhibition was held in the Sala d'Arme of Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, but the artist's participation in important art exhibitions did not end there: in 2002, a few days before his death, an important nucleus of his works were exhibited in Palazzo Strozzi as part of the "Continuità. Arte in Toscana 1945-1967", curated by A.Boatto. Severely suffering, he was admitted to the RSA in Terranuova Bracciolini (AR), which he had already attended for some periods of motor rehabilitation. Here he died on 28 January 2002, after having executed his last drawings in pen, including one dedicated to the tragedy of the "Twin Towers" in New York. Since 2004 the Venturino Venturi Archive has been active, located in the artist's home-atelier in the village of Loro Ciuffenna, where he was born. The Archive has been organizing important monographic exhibitions since 2006, with "Impronte di Materia. Venturino Venturi: matrices, monotypes, drawings and sculptures from 1948 to 1986", curated by Micol Forti and Antonino Caleca at the Ministry of Cultural Heritage (Rome), Museo di San Matteo (Pisa), Casa Masaccio (San Giovanni Valdarno). The commitment continued in 2007 with the exhibition "Volti. Uomini e donne del Valdarno nei ritratti di Venturino Venturi", curated by Lucia Fiaschi, at Palazzo Concini in Terranuova Bracciolini (AR). The most recent ones date back to 2012, marking the tenth anniversary of the artist's death: "Venturino Venturi. Il dono dell'Assoluto", in Fiesole from 12 April to 30 May, "Venturino 1958", in Pontassieve from 14 April to 3 June and "Venturino Venturi. La Via Crucis e il Vangelo di Prato", presentation of the permanent acquisitions of the Episcopal Seminary of Prato (20 April). The Archive is currently engaged in the general cataloguing of the sculptor's work, whose first volume is about to be published. Venturino's works are in private Italian and foreign collections and in the following museums: Museo Venturino Venturi in Loro Ciuffenna, Museo del Duomo in Prato, Museo della Grafica in Pisa (Palazzo Lanfranchi), Galleria degli Uffizi in Florence, Museo degli Argenti in Palazzo Pitti in Florence, Galleria di Arte Moderna in Palazzo Pitti in Florence, Galleria d'Arte contemporanea in Arezzo, Musei Vaticani, MNHA in Luxembourg City.

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