Kick start your New Year with a healthy dose of culture at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, which is currently hosting a retrospective dedicated to the intriguing Italian artist Osvaldo Licini.
Born in the Marche region in 1894, Licini has long been regarded as one of the most enigmatic and elusive Italian painters of the 20th century, whose career was characterized by moments of crisis and seemingly sudden stylistic changes. This show aims to retrace his disruptive and tormented artistic path, and to shed new light on the fundamental coherence of his creative journey.
The exhibition begins with an early series of Licini’s figurative paintings from the 1920s, depicting the hilly landscape around the Marches – a subject to which he would return consistently throughout his career. These same pastoral views also feature as the backdrop to his gradual transition from realism to abstraction during the 1930s – an experimental period in which he developed a highly original pictorial language that was both lyrical and acutely attentive to geometry, featuring colours and signs that he viewed as expressions of energy, willpower, ideas and magic.
The most iconic works in the show are the series of paintings depicting the female historical figure of Amalasuntha, which were presented as a group at the Venice Biennale in 1950, revealing the many facets of Licini’s personality, from the contemplative side to the more ironic and irreverent one.
In the galleries dedicated to his later works, themes, styles, and unresolved thoughts on painting all converge, firmly asserting Licini as a great protagonist of Twentieth Century modernism – a position that was confirmed during his lifetime when he was awarded the Grand Prize for Painting at the Venice Biennale in 1958, just months before his death. Staged to commemorate the sixtieth anniversary of this prestigious recognition, this revelatory show is a fitting and long-overdue tribute to the great Italian master.
Osvaldo Licini. Let Sheer Folly Sweep Me Away is on view at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection until 14th January 2019.