Scheda libro

Mario Sironi

La grandezza dell'arte, le tragedie della storia

  • Author: Elena Pontiggia
  • Year: 2015
  • Language: Italian
  • Pages: 320
  • Price: 28.00 €
  • ISBN: 978-88-6010-124-2
  • Size: cm 15.5 x 23
  • Illustrations: 97 b/w and 17 colour

In Sironi's words, "Art does not need to be nice, it needs to be great", and what better way to describe his own paintings: depictions of city scenes as forbidding yet impressive as modern cathedrals. A Futurist from 1913, in the 1920s Mario Sironi (Sassari 1885 – Milan 1961) began painting the bleaker side of city life and contemporary society, creating cityscapes that nonetheless possess the dignity of classical architecture and monumental figures with the poise of ancient portraiture. With his modern take on classicism, he was one of the leading artists between the two wars: first with the Italian Novecento movement, which formed in Milan in 1922; then with the visionary dream of reviving fresco and mosaic.
A personal friend of Mussolini's and early adopter of Fascism, Sironi's mural paintings of the 1930s gave form to the nationalist and social doctrine of the regime, though not its racial laws, which he never approved of. Yet his first love remained the decorative art of antiquity, inspired by witnessing "the magnificent ghosts of classical art" during his youth in Rome. And in any case, his powerful, harrowing works never became an art of state.
Life was not kind to Sironi, who lost his father when he was only thirteen. He not only lived through the war but also depression, poverty, family problems, artistic controversy, and overwork to the point of burnout. He survived the fall of Fascism and the disintegration of his political ideals, only narrowly avoiding a summary execution (thanks to the intervention of Gianni Rodari, a member of the resistance but admirer of his), and experienced the tragic loss of his daughter Rossana, who committed suicide at the age of 18 in 1948. Yet his art represented a stubborn creative act in the face of life's (existential and historical) vicissitudes; at least until his late period, when, deserted by his dreams and illusions, he painted crumbling cities and visions of the Apocalypse.

  • About the author
  • Contents

Elena Pontiggia, art historian, is a lecturer at the Accademia di Brera. Her field is international art between the two world wars and the relationship between modernity and classicism. She works with La Stampa and various magazines. Her most recent books include: Hopper (2004); Modernità e classicità. Il Ritorno all’ordine in Europa (2008, Carducci Prize 2009), and Christian Schad (now being printed). She has curated numerous exhibitions and publications on Sironi.

First part
La stagione romana
1. Una famiglia di architetti
2. Dagli esordi simbolisti alla crisi del 1903
3. Amicizie e incontri: Boccioni, Severini, Balla, Prini
4. I primi viaggi: Milano, Parigi, Erfurt
5. L’adesione al Futurismo. Da Piedigrotta alle tavole parolibere

Second part
Il tempo di guerra
6. Tra i Volontari Ciclisti. La battaglia di Dosso Casina
e L’orgoglio italiano
7. L’incontro con Margherita Sarfatti, la morte di Boccioni, il Servizio P
8. Il congedo e il ritorno a Roma

Third part
A Milano, tra fascismo e “Novecento”
9. Il salotto della Sarfatti e il “covo” di Mussolini
10. I paesaggi urbani e la mostra alla Galleria Arte
11. Disegnatore del Popolo d’Italia
12. La nascita del Novecento Italiano
13. Da 6 a 114. La Biennale del 1924 e la mostra del 1926
14. 1928: una Biennale in extremis
15. La carovana delle mostre (1929-1930)

Fourth part
La scommessa della pittura murale: la lotta al sistema dell’arte moderna
16. Dalla Quadriennale di Roma alla “Mostra della Rivoluzione Fascista”
17. La Triennale del 1933, la mancata Biennale e il mancato processo del 1934
18. Gli affanni della pittura monumentale
19. Le ultime imprese decorative

Fifth part
La rovina e la solitudine
20. «Non sono rimaste che macerie e paura»
21. Gli anni del dopoguerra
22. La perdita di Rossana, l’isolamento
23. Gli ultimi anni