Artists in Italy: Joseph Stella and Giorgio de Chirico

Read part one in this series.

Joseph Stella, Vesuvius, c. 1915-20. Watercolor and pencil on paper, 9 1/2 x 13 1/4 in. (24.1 x 33.7 cm). The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C., Gift of Jennifer and Alan Pensler in memory of Leslie Pensler, 1997.

Joseph Stella, Vesuvius, c. 1915-20. Watercolor and pencil on paper, 9 1/2 x 13 1/4 in. (24.1 x 33.7 cm). The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C., Gift of Jennifer and Alan Pensler in memory of Leslie Pensler, 1997.

Born near Naples, Italy in 1877, the artist Joseph Stella  moved to the United States at the age of 18 where he began a career in medicine before attending the Art Students League in New York to study painting. He traveled to Paris in 1909, was inspired by cubism and futurism, and later participated in the Armory Show of 1913. He continued to experiment with styles, the result of which can be seen in the vibrant colors of his watercolor Vesuvius from between 1920 and 1940, shown above. Italian Landscape, also from this time period, shows softer colors and more subtle references to modern techniques.

While born to Italian parents, Giorgio de Chirico  grew up in Volos, Greece, and studied art in Athens, Italy, and Germany. As an adult, de Chirico lived in many cities throughout Italy, each leaving its mark on his work. The painting seen below, Horses (1928), depicts two horses on a beach standing before a Roman architectural structure that refers to the legacy of Italian culture.

Drew Lash, Curatorial Intern

Giorgio de Chirico, Horses, c. 1928. Oil on canvas, 19 3/4 x 25 5/8 in. (50.2 x 65 cm). The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C., Acquired 1929.

Giorgio de Chirico, Horses, c. 1928. Oil on canvas, 19 3/4 x 25 5/8 in. (50.2 x 65 cm). The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C., Acquired 1929.

Artists in Italy: Maurice Prendergast and John Graham

New installation of works inspired by Italy in Gallery C. Photo: Joshua Navarro.

New installation of works inspired by Italy in an upstairs gallery in the house. Photo: Joshua Navarro.

From the ancient Romans to the Renaissance, Italy has attracted and inspired artists from around the world for centuries. Many considered their artistic training incomplete without a trip to study from the great masters and to record the beautiful surrounding landscapes of Italy. The styles of art created and employed were just as diverse as the nationalities of the artists that Italy inspired. In a new permanent collection installation in the house, artists both Italian and foreign from the late 19th to the mid-20th century use the common thread of Italian inspiration to interpret landscapes and still life themes that reflect their unique visual vocabulary. This week, I will explore the foreign artists attracted to the beauty of Italy that are represented in the gallery.

Maurice Prendergast, Pincian Hill, Rome, 1898. Watercolor over graphite pencil underdrawing on thick, medium-textured, off-white watercolor paper, 21 x 27 in. (53.34 x 68.58 cm). The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C., Acquired 1920.

Maurice Prendergast, Pincian Hill, Rome, 1898. Watercolor over graphite pencil underdrawing on thick, medium-textured, off-white watercolor paper, 21 x 27 in. (53.3 x 68.6 cm). The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C., Acquired 1920.

Maurice Prendergast and John D. Graham were two such examples of painters drawn to Italy for its beautiful landscapes. Prendergast, an American born in Newfoundland in 1858 and raised in Boston, studied painting in Britain and Paris before making his grand tour through Italy. In 1898, he traveled to Florence, Siena, Rome, Capri, and Venice, taking in the sights and colors. Pincian Hill, Rome (1898), created on this trip and shown above, shows a street view of Rome depicting not only Italian scenery, but also daily life.

Graham  similarly came upon his Italian source of inspiration by way of travel. Born in Ukraine in 1886, Graham escaped Bolshevik imprisonment and immigrated to the United States in 1920. After moving to America, he visited Asia, Africa, and Western Europe. His works Mountain Village (1927), seen below,  and Palermo (1928) depict beautiful Italian landscapes defined by vivid colors and geometric forms.

Tomorrow, I’ll discuss works by Joseph Stella and Giorgio De Chirico.

Drew Lash, Curatorial Intern

John Graham, Mountain Village, 1927. Oil on canvas, 16 x 20 in. (40.6 x 50.8 cm). The Phillips Collection, Washington ,D.C., Acquired by 1929, possibly 1927.

John Graham, Mountain Village, 1927. Oil on canvas, 16 x 20 in. (40.6 x 50.8 cm). The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C., Acquired by 1929, possibly 1927.

 

For National Poetry Month, Poesia e Fotografia Part III

As part of the 2013 Year of Italian Culture in the United States, the Phillips has partnered with the Embassy of Italy to present an exhibition that pairs contemporary Italian photographs with verses by celebrated Italian poets. On view at the Phillips through April 28, the show is complemented by posters featuring its photography/poem pairings on city buses. In honor of National Poetry Month, we bring you a selection from this series. Read Part I and Part II.

Next Stop Italy installation view by Joshua Navarro. Artworks left to right: Gabriele Basilico's "Ponte Matteotti, Roma" (2007), Gianni Berengo Gardin's "Toscana" (1965), and Renato D'Agostin's "Paris" (2005).

Next Stop Italy installation view by Joshua Navarro. Artworks left to right: Gabriele Basilico’s “Ponte Matteotti, Roma” (2007), Gianni Berengo Gardin’s “Toscana” (1965), and Nino Migliori’s “No War” (2003).

Flanking Gardin’s lovely gelatin-silver print Toscana to the left you will discover Basilico’s Ponte Matteotti, Roma with this verse written by Eugenio Montale in 1925:

“Meriggiare pallido e assorto” (1925)
. . . sentire con triste meraviglia
com’è tutta la vita e il suo travaglio
in questo seguitare una muraglia . . .

“To slump at noon” (1925)
. . . once more, to feel, with sad surprise
how all life and its battles
is in this walk alongside a wall . . .

Eugenio Montale (translated by Millicent Bell)

At right, hangs Migliori’s No War with this verse by Mario Luzi:

“Prima notte di primavera” (1965)
Porto la mano sulla fitta, ascolto.
Prima notte di primavera, gonfia
e lacera tra l’avvenire e l’essere.

“First night of spring” (1965)
My hand is on the stitch of pain, I’m listening.
First night of spring, swelling
and lacerating, between becoming and being.

Mario Luzi (translated by Nick Benson)