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Fattori feted in Livorno

Discussion in 'Livorno' started by News From Italy, Apr 19, 2008.

  1. Fattori feted in Livorno

    The Tuscan port of Livorno is set to celebrate the achievements of one of its most famous sons with an exhibition devoted to the work of 19th-century artist Giovanni Fattori. Fattori (1825-1908) is today best known for his important contribution to the Macchiaioli movement but the exhibit, which opens Sunday, showcases the extraordinary breadth of his work. Timed to coincide with the centenary of Fattori's death, the event features 250 artworks in total.

    The 150 paintings and more than 100 sheets of drawings and etchings trace Fattori's entire artistic career, while filling in the different phases of his life, from his academic beginnings to the vaguely expressionist experiments of his final years. Fattori's family sent him to Florence at the age of 21 when his talent became clear, where he started studying at the Academy of Fine Arts. Despite his natural flair, Fattori was a lazy student, dropping out of the academy during the revolutionary years of the late 1840s.

    He returned to the academy in 1850 but only started painting properly in the late 1850s. His lack of prior output means there are few surviving works from earlier periods. The exhibit, which is divided into 20 sections, consequently starts with the period 1859-1860, looking at his earliest portraits and his figure studies. The second part, which covers the same period, explores his fascination with the military.

    Unlike some of his contemporaries caught up in the revolutionary fever, Fattori avoided bloody battle scenes, limiting his work to soldiers at rest or in encampment. The political upheavals of the age are explored further in several other sections. The Epic Deeds of the Italian Risorgimento covers the period 1862-1870, another part focuses on military movements of the 1870s, and an entire series of works is devoted to military encampments between 1870 and 1880.

    A more reflective period in Fattori's career emerges in a section devoted to his time in the picturesque hamlet of Castiglioncello (1867-1875). He spent a number of summers there, particularly after the death of his wife in 1867, working with other Macchiaioli artists and focusing on peaceful, outdoor, rural scenes. His fascination with country life is explored further in sections entitled Poetry of the Fields (1870-1890), Places of the Soul (1870-1895) and Stay in Marsiliana: Study of the Maremma Cowherds (1880-1895).

    These sections feature some of his most popular, best-loved works, characterized by geometric simplicity and brilliant colours. But the exhibit also looks at the darker, later years of his life, when Fattori's work fell from favour. Stricken by poverty, he started teaching for money but refused to embrace new techniques, launching repeated attacks on upcoming movements. Disillusionment and Isolation (1890-1900) looks at this gloomier period, although Exploration and Manoeuvres, covering the same time, shows a side of Fattori that remained fascinated by artistic ideas, with paintings veering towards Expressionism. The final section of the exhibit offers visitors a more personal view of the artist, with a fascinating collection of photographs and letters, as well as items he used in his work, such as his artist's dummy and the printing press he used for his etchings.

    The exhibition runs from April 20 until July 6 at Villa Mimbelli.

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