Gerardo Dottori (1884-1977) was a pivotal figure in Italian Futurism during the inter-war years. His expansive and intensely lyrical visions of the Umbrian landscape, viewed from above, were among the earliest and most striking examples of aeropainting, which explored the dynamic perspectives of flight. A major new survey of his work, bringing together some 50 paintings and drawings will be on show in London this summer, including a large number of works which have never been exhibited in the UK before. Gerardo Dottori: The Futurist View runs at the Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art from 9 July until 7 September 2014.
Dottori was born in Perugia and studied at the city’s Academy of Fine Arts where he excelled as a draughtsman. Around 1904 he began exploring the 'Divisionist' technique as a way of introducing life, light and colour into his work and as a means of escape from the gloom of the Academy. Dottori recalled how he and his fellow students ‘rebelled against the teaching methods of the lectures; we tried to make them understand our discontent and our need to do something different from what was imposed on us.’ In 1909, his rebellious inclinations made Dottori receptive to the subversive agenda of F.T. Marinetti’s newly-launched Futurist movement.
A period of experimentation followed with the creation of works such as Spring which he felt captured the authentic spirit of Futurism, employing fragmented forms and vibrant colours to create a vivid sense of movement and energy. In 1912 he plunged into the Futurist adventure with great enthusiasm, co-founding one of the earliest regional Futurist groups. Dottori continued to work while serving in the Italian army during WW1, producing drawings, paintings and poetic compositions under the pseudonym ‘G. Voglio’.
Although Futurism is most closely associated with its celebration of the flux and dynamism of the modern industrial age, Dottori often expressed his preference for ‘the stillness of the countryside and the mountains to the deafening noise of big cities’. And it was his native region of Umbria, with its lush, undulating landscape, to which he remained most deeply attached throughout his life. His Self Portrait of 1928, in which Dottori depicts himself embedded among its hills and lakes, is symbolic of the deep bond he felt with this rural environment.
This exploration of the career of one of Futurism’s most significant and distinctive characters draws on key works from a number of public and private collections and is curated by Massimo Duranti, the leading expert on the artist, and President of Perugia’s Archivi Dottori. The exhibition is accompanied by a fully-illustrated catalogue.