Preview: Jack Foley
THE Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art, in London, is
presenting a rare opportunity for art lovers to appreciate and
explore a fascinating movement still little known outside Italy
- the work of Italian Divisionism, from 1885-1910.
The exhibition, entitled Painting Light, can be viewed at the
Canonbury Square venue until September 7, 2003.
Inspired by the achievements of the Impressionists and Neo-Impressionists,
the school of painting known as Divisionism emerged in Italy around
the end of the 19th Century.
Like their French counterparts, these artists were fascinated
with capturing effects of light, and this pioneering exhibition
which includes the work of painters such as Giovanni Segantini,
Angelo Morbelli and Gaetano Previati explores their attempts
to evoke that most elusive of subjects.
Closely allied to the work of artists such as Georges Seurat
and Paul Signac, the Divisionist technique was grounded in the
construction of images from small dashes of pure colour that would
blend in the eye of the spectator when viewed from a distance,
resulting in works characterised by an intense luminosity.
However, despite its close links with French artistic theories,
Divisionism was very much an autonomous and independent movement,
distinguished by its attempts to strike a careful balance between
formal and narrative concerns.
Perhaps most characteristic is the way in which many Italian
artists, such as Giacomo Balla and Giuseppe Pellizza da Volpedo,
combined their study of light and their investigation of optical
phenomena with social commentary, applying their pictorial theories
to depictions of the marginalised elements of society, such as
the working class and the poor.
The influence of Divisionism lasted into the early twentieth
century and was of particular significance in the development
of Futurism, which adopted its fragmentary, shimmering technique
as a means of evoking the dynamic simultaneity of the modern urban
The exhibition, organised in collaboration with the Italian Ministry
of Foreign Affairs, comprises some 44 paintings, which have been
loaned from private and public collections, including the Museo
d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto, Civiche Raccolte
d'Arte, Milan, Galleria d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Verona,
and Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna, Rome.
The Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art opened in January
1998 to show works from the remarkable collection created by Eric
and Salome Estorick.
Powerful images by the main protagonists of the early 20th-century
Italian avant-garde Futurist movement such as Balla, Boccioni,
Carrà, Severini, Russolo and Soffici, are shown alongside
works by such figurative artists as Modigliani, Sironi and Campigli
and the metaphysical painter de Chirico.
The museum has a library of over 2,000 books, primarily on early
20th-century Italian art, and houses a café and the Zwemmers
The Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art was named Best
Museum of Fine or Applied Art in the 1999 National Heritage/NPI
Museum of the Year Awards.
ESTORICK COLLECTION OF MODERN ITALIAN ART, 39a Canonbury Square
London, N1 2AN. Tel: 020 7704 9522
Opening hours: Wednesday to Saturday, 11am to 6pm; Sunday,
12noon to 5pm
Admission: Adult £3.50 Concessions £2.50