press release

An Eternal Beauty. The Classical Canon in Early 20th Century Italian Art
July 2–November 5, 2017

After a resounding success in Madrid, Rovereto welcomes the extraordinary exhibition produced by Mart and Fundación MAPFRE, An Eternal Beauty, featured in the Spanish capital from February 25 to June 4 under the title Retorno a la belleza. An Eternal Beauty is the historical and ideal continuation of the major exhibition in 2016 titled Painters of Light: from Divisionism to Futurism, featured in Madrid in the spring and in Rovereto in the summer, drawing in close to one hundred thousand visitors. For the second year in a row, the international Italo-Spanish partnership offers visitors to the two museums an exceptional opportunity to encounter a selection of absolute masterpieces of early 20th century Italian art. Both exhibitions are curated by Beatrice Avanzi and Daniela Ferrari.

Staged to great audience and media acclaim in Spain, the exhibition An Eternal Beauty traces out an enriching journey through one of the most fertile periods in 20th century Italian art, at a distance of nearly one century. After the devastation of the First World War and the aesthetic revolutions of the century’s early avant-garde movements, the winds of a return to order swept through Europe. They stirred up currents and movements such as Metaphysical Art, the experiences surrounding “Valori Plastici,” the Novecento italiano, and the poetics of Magical Realism, which recovered themes and formal solutions from distant but seminal artistic traditions. During post-war reconstruction and the period of fascist regimes, frustrated and deluded by the tragic international events, many European artists abandoned the dream of progress typifying the avant-garde movements of the early century. In its place they championed themes such as a return to reason after the madness of war, the recovery of tradition in art after a period of experimentation, and, most importantly, the affirmation of the principles of beauty and harmony against the deformation and dissonance of Cubist, Expressionist, and Futurist Art. Allegorical subjects, portraits, figures, landscapes and still-lifes were interpreted in a new idiom providing a modern rendition of the values of ancient and Renaissance art. Technical knowledge gained the status of a tool for representing and transfiguring the real in search of a timeless, oneiric dimension.

The exhibition presents over one hundred works by some of the foremost protagonists of Italian art: Carrà, Casorati, de Chirico, de Pisis, Savinio, Severini, Sironi, and also Bucci, Cagnaccio di San Pietro, Donghi, Dudreville, Funi, Malerba, Marini, Martini, Marussig, Oppi and Wildt. It is organized into seven sections: Metaphysics of Time and Space; Evocations of the Ancient; Return to the Figure. The Portrait; The Nude as Model; Landscapes; The Poetry of Objects; and The Seasons of Life.

An Eternal Beauty weaves a rich network of visual references with works in the Mart permanent Collections, where dedicated labels highlight the connections with the themes explored in An Eternal Beauty.

A catalogue of essays written by the curators Beatrice Avanzi and Daniela Ferrari and by art historians Elena Pontiggia and Leyre Bozal Chamorro and published by Electa complements the exhibition. Also included is a co-authored text by Leyre Bozal Chamorro and Pablo Jiménez Burillo, director of Fundación MAPFRE.