The 1930s in Italy were years that revolutionised the national arts scene. While new and completely provocative cultural and pictorial tendencies were already making their way into other countries – for example, the suprematist experiments of Kazimir Malevich or Wassily Kandinski’s Compositions or Piet Mondrian’s minimalist grids – in Italy it was in the 1930s that the new trends exploded. And this was, paradoxically, in a country ruled by fascism which had focused its full force on the development of the arts, architecture and cinema. It was at this stage that Luigi Veronesi, together with Lucio Fontana, Osvaldo Licini, Mauro Reggiani and Fausto Melotti, signed the “Manifesto of the First Collective Exhibition of Italian Abstract Art”, which was held on 4 March 1934 in Turin. His revolutionary works, his linear and strictly geometric strokes, were to be found again at the Milan Triennale in 1936. A new artistic discourse was opened up – a new chapter of Italian art had been started. With Veronesi, Reggiani, Melotti and the like, an extraordinarily rich and fervid season for the entire Italian culture opened up, which we now – with this exhibition – want to pay tribute to and present in its full cultural scope. Veronesi’s artworks would later go on to characterise the following decades and would find application in every artistic and cultural field in Italy, from the theatre to photography and so forth.”
“For 15 years we have been creating opportunities for meetings. Opportunities that can allow us to get to know people, to compare experiences and understand each other better. Our intent has always been ambitious: to divulge what we are capable of doing, to try to improve the world with ideas, with art, and with the continuous search for beauty.
The ‘La Stanza’ cultural club operates as a place for open cultural exchange and its exhibition space, Espace la Stanza is our showcase. We have had the pleasure of organising and hosting over 100 exhibitions: both large exhibitions in many European cities that have the cultural heritage of Bolzano and Alto Adige, as well as – at the Espace La Stanza – those of artists, not only from our local area, but from all the other regions of Italy and also from further realities such as Germany and France, in Europe, Senegal and Morocco, in Africa, over to Bangladesh and Pakistan in Asia and even to Cuba and Brazil in Latin America. Artists of great fame, but also less known and emerging young people, of whom we expect a lot in the future.
Now – starting a cultural twinning between Bolzano and Alto Adige on one side and Montenegro on the other – the La Stanza cultural club aims to be the ideal bridge for helping to get to know and to make better known the cultural excellences that unite these two territories, rich in tradition, history and human heritage. After proposing to hold an exhibition in Budva by Luigi Veronesi, one of the artists who have made the greatest marks on modern art in Italy since the 1930s, as well as by some artists from his circle, we will be happy to have the opportunity of exhibiting at Espace La Stanza the works of the most prominent Montenegrin artists who deserve to be much more widely known and to have greater renown.”
Luigi Veronesi (Milano, 28 May 1908 – Milano, 25 February 1998) Born in Milan, Luigi Veronesi started practising photography at the age of 17 assisted by his father. He started his artistic activity in the 1920s by training as a textile designer and at the same time he carried out research in the field of photography that enabled him to obtain, through his particular techniques, images full of originality. He was introduced by Raffaelle Giolli to a group of Italian intellectuals associated with the Poligono magazine. At the age of 20, he began to be interested in painting and took lessons with the Neapolitan painter Carmelo Violante, who was then a professor at the Accademia Carrara of Bergamo.
On 4 March 1934, he participated in the first collective exhibition of Italian abstract art in the atélier of the painters Felice Casorati and Enrico Paolucci in Turin, together with the artists Oreste Bogliardi, Cristoforo De Amicis, Ezio D’Errico, Lucio Fontana, Virginio Ghiringhelli, Osvaldo Licini, Fausto Melotti, Mauro Reggiani and Atanasio Soldati, who signed the “Manifesto of the First Collective Exhibition of Italian Abstract Art”. He participated in the Milan Triennial in 1936. That same year he also participated in an abstract art exhibition in the city of Como with the artists Lucio Fontana, Virginio Ghiringhelli, Osvaldo Licini, Alberto Magnelli, Fausto Melotti, Enrico Prampolini, Mario Radice, Mauro Reggiani, Manlio Rho and Atanasio Soldati. The catalogue contains a presentation written by Alberto Sartoris. Also in 1936, he illustrated the “Geometry Notebook” by Leonardo Sinisgalli. In 1939 he presented a personal exhibition in the Galerie L’Équipe in Paris. The same year, he published “Fourteen Variations of a Pictorial Theme” with a musical commentary by Riccardo Malipiero, starting a profound analysis of the relationship between musical and chromatic scales, with particular interest in dodecaphonic music. In Milan, in 1932, the Il Milione gallery hosted his first creations which were of a figurative type: later, he began his personal research in the field of abstract art. In 1932 in Paris, he formed a friendship with Fernand Léger and was interested in Russian and Dutch constructivism, abandoning the figurative preparation of his debut and tackling research in the context of geometric abstraction. In 1934 he joined the group Abstraction-Création in Paris, became familiar with Swiss constructivism and adhered to the Bauhaus method: Wassily Kandinsky’s “lesson” would prove to be decisive. He participated in the exhibition Arte astratta arte concreta (Abstract Art Concrete Art) in the Royal Palace in Milan (Palazzo Reale). Veronesi was also active initially in the theatre, but then also in the cinema.
During the war he worked for many years as a graphics designer and advertiser, and some of his photograms became covers for magazines, such as Campografico and Ferrania. In 1949, he joined the MAC – Movement for Concrete Art – taking part in exhibitions of this movement, which had been founded in Milan in 1948 by Atanasio Soldati, Gillo Dorfles, Bruno Munari and Gianni Monet. He went on to be interested in music, creating a polydimensionality of art understood as a global project, deepening his research on the mathematical relationships between musical notes, translating them into tonal relationships of colour, thus creating numerous chromatic transpositions of musical scores.
He actively participated in most of the exhibitions of those years, such as the exhibition of Italian abstract art at the 33rd Venice Biennale, the Festival of Contemporary Music and a solo exhibition at the Spatia Gallery in Bolzano in 1980 and another one in Pordenone in 1984. In 1983, he received the Feltrinelli Prize of the Accademia dei Lincei for painting. In 1987, together with Maria Lai, Costantino Nivola and Guido Strazza, he created the artistic project of the Municipal Wash-House in Ulassai in Sardinia. In the 1980s, he designed several sets for the Teatro alla Scala in Milan; his sketches of scenographical work are permanently displayed in the theatre’s museum. His activity as a scenographer was also marked by an interest in investigating the relationship between sounds and colours through the visual transpositions of musical frequencies.
Fausto Melotti (Rovereto 8 June 1901 – Milan 22 June 1986)He was born in Rovereto on 8 June 1901, when the city was still part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. At the outbreak of the First World War, he moved to Florence, where he completed his studies. In this Tuscan city, Melotti came into contact with writers and avant-garde artists. His connection with his hometown resumed at the end of the war and the fervent cultural landscape that had animated Rovereto in those years influenced him greatly. He frequently visited the futurist artist Fortunato Depero, the architect Gino Pollini (one of the founders of Italian rationalism, thanks to Gruppo 7), the composer Riccardo Zandonai and in particular his favourite nephew, the famous pianist Maurizio Pollini, whose career he encouraged. He subsequently graduated in electrical engineering from the Milan Polytechnic University. In 1928, he moved to Milan, entering the Academy of Brera, under the guidance of the great Milanese sculptor Adolfo Wildt. For a while he was also interested in ceramics for commercial use and worked at the Richard-Ginori porcelain manufactory with his friend Gio Ponti. His style changed over the years, but always followed his own very personal artistic research. He exhibited at the 5th Milan Triennale in 1933, prepared the sculptures which he had made in Rome and Carrara in 1941 for the EUR Universal Exposition in Rome. Therefore, his links with the 1900s were obvious, with metaphysical art, but above all with rationalism and with those artists that gravitated around the Il Milione gallery in Milan, particularly Lucio Fontana.
A special bond connects Fausto Melotti with Italo Calvino, since Calvino wrote that he was inspired by the former’s slender, light sculptures, full of empty spaces, to write his masterpiece: Invisible Cities. His sculpture would increasingly gain an abstract character, and at the same time would become synthetic in terms of his methods and materials: ceramic or plaster, theatre items in a combined technique, but above all in terms of his lightweight steel sculptures, which would bring him fame on the international artistic scene.
Mauro Reggiani (Nonantola, 11 August 1897– Milano, 20 May 1980)
Immediately after the First World War, he became friends with the painters Carlo Dalmazzo Carrà, Achille Funi and Pietro Marussig. In Paris, where he went in 1926 and 1930, he met Wassily Kandinsky, Alberto Magnelli, Jean Arp and Max Ernst.
He took part in the first exhibition of Italian abstract art organised in 1934 at the Il Milione gallery in Milan. He was one of the artists to sign the first manifesto of abstract art and was a passionate supporter of the new openings in art belonging to the entourage headed by Luigi Veronesi, as well as of new relationships which were more consistent with the foreign avant-garde culture. In Turin, in 1935, he exhibited in the gallery of Casorati and Paolucci. In 1938, he was entrusted with the fresco-painting of a church in the village of Battisti in Cyrenaica. In 1960, he took part in the Historical Abstract Art Exhibition Construction and Geometry in Painting, held in New York.
He was awarded at the Venice Biennale and later, in 1965, he won the first prize of the Rome Art Quadrennial. In 1982, he took part in a group exhibition at the Centro d'Arte Cultura e Costume. Reggiani is one of the most significant figures of that particular moment in Italian culture.