Renato Guttuso
Narrating reality and imagination

from October 19, 2013

After the great success of the exhibition "Renato Guttuso. Il Realismo e l'attualità dell'immagine" recently organized at the Museo Archeologico Regionale in Aosta by Galleria d'Arte Maggiore, the works selected on that occasion by Flaminio Gualdoni and Franco Calarota move today to the bolognese venue of the Gallery. The aim is to continue an homage to an artist who, deeply involved in the social and political context of his time, is one of the most influential minds in the art field after the Second World War.

If Pier Paolo Pasolini is the one who better expressed the Neoralist movement in words, whereas Federico Fellini and Vittorio De Sica brought Neo-realism to the highest point on the big screen, Guttuso is the greatest exponent of Realism in painting. Since the mid-'30s his choice is clear, in the name of a figuration that on the one hand recoveries in a critical way the identity of the ancient painting and its ability to become story and emblem, and on the other hand is the mirror of an intense, clear-headed and also dramatic relationship with history. The early antifascist choice and the adherence to the communist movement make him the more important interpreter of a Realism that is not a celebratory and rhetoric choice, but a critical testimony of his own time, of the individual and collective present he wants to return a possible truth of. Guttuso writes: "I want to get to the total freedom in art, that freedom which, as in life, consists in truth". And then: "Above all the relationship with things has always been important for me. Finding, or believing to find this bond (of course not stable or fixed), has somehow meant trying to communicate this relationship. Art without an audience does not exist". Cultured as much as anti-intellectual, the painting of Guttuso chooses gender issues from still life to portrait to the naked figures, merging styles ranging from the love for the Renaissance and the Seventeenth Century to the folksy mood, from the formally strong synthesis to narrative, from the powerful evidence of things to allegory. He also takes part in the discussion of avant-garde art, which he knows very well but which he looks at from an autonomous point of view. He reflects on Expressionism. He establishes a dialogue with Picasso and his peppery synthesis. He argues with the ethical disengagement of the currents contemporary to his time because for him reality "is a statement of what reality is, of what man is". As Flaminio Gualdoni writes in the introductory essay to the catalogue of Aosta: "Now that the ideology of the avant-gardes at all costs gives way to thoughtful reflections on the post-war period, the prickly choice of Guttuso – a formal aristocracy careful at the same time of the essential reasons of communication – confirms that the sense of history can be continuity and not rupture. This sense consists in making the substance of the eye new and not the skin of the go to show, bringing the human back to the center of discussion without limiting onself to an art that speaks only of art".

Guttuso was born in Bagheria, a small town near Palermo, in 1911, and died in Rome on 18 January 1987, having largely enjoyed great success both in Europe and overseas. In addition to some editions of the Venice Biennale, among the many exhibitions he was protagonist of we must remember the show in 1958 in New York, in 1961 at the Pushkin Museum in Moscow, in 1963 at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, in 1971 at the Musée d 'art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, and then again in Stockholm 1978, at the Galleria d'Arte Moderna di Bologna in 1982, at Palazzo Grassi in Venice in 1982, to continue with the Palazzo Reale in Milan in 1984 and the Whitechapel Art Gallery London in 1996. Among the most prestigious museums that have works of Renato Guttuso in their collections we can remember the Tate Gallery in London, the Galleria Nazionale di Arte Moderna in Rome and the MART of Trento and Rovereto.

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