A Primo Conti Preview at Villa Bardini

Primo Conti as a Young Man (self portrait)

Until January 13:  PRIMO CONTI:  FANFARE & SILENCE.  Villa Bardini, Costa San Giorgio 2.  Open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 – 7 pm (visitors admitted until 6 pm). Tickets are available via online reservation for €10 (€5 reduced); free guided tours are included on Sunday are included in the price of admission. Visitors can park for free within Forte Belvedere at via San Leonardo, 1.

Conti was born in Florence in 1900 and was known for his talent in music, poetry, and art from a young age. His paintings and literary works represent his lifelong experimentation with a variety of styles, ranging from Art Nouveau and Expressionism to Futurism.

Futurism was an artistic and social movement founded in Italy in the early 20th century which captured the energy and values of the machine age by emphasizing speed, technology, power and force.  Fellow Italian painter Giacomo Balla and poet Filippo Tommaso Marinetti influenced Conti to join the Futuristic movement, which glorified modernity and aimed to liberate Italy from the weight of its past.

The gallery of Conti’s work is a journey through the myriad artistic movements that influenced the creative minds of the early 20th century in Italy and Europe. His unique style is as fluid as his famous brush strokes; beginning with more realistic paintings in his early career, his style was ever-changing and evolved over time to include elements of Futurism, to become subsequently more abstract and encompass elements of metaphysical art and Cubism.

Of the techniques Conti absorbed in his lifetime, the bold colors and stark contrasts typical of Fauvism remained a constant presence in his works. These exaggerated colors were also characteristic of the 16th century Mannerist style that emerged in European art as a response to the balance and clarity of Italian High Renaissance painting. Conti’s later paintings reflect this experimentation with asymmetry and unnatural elegance, culminating in a number of  surreal, dream-like exhibits for guests to enjoy, including a modern “Deposition.”

“Fanfare and Silence” also invites the visitor to compare Conti’s pieces with significant works by his mentors, friends and peers, such as Filippo de Pisis, Cezanne, Umberto Boccioni and Pablo Picasso.  Among the paintings on display include “Liung-Yuk” (from the Pitti Palace’s Modern Art Gallery), “Siao Tai Tai” (from Rome’s National Gallery of Modern Art), and “The Bourgeoise Cantonese Woman” (from a private collection). The three masterpieces were each created in 1924 and inspired by a Chinese woman Conti knew as a young man, and are brought together for the first time at Villa Bardini.

In addition to “Fanfare and Silence,”  two more exhibitions dedicated to Conti will be held in Fiesole. “Primo Conti, the Years of Futurism” will be held through January 13 at the Foundation that bears the artist’s name (via Giovanni Duprè 18)  and “Primo Conti, a Journey through Photographs” at Fiesole’s Town Hall from November 10 – January 13. These displays aim to highlight the life of the artist beginning with his precocious debut to follow the twists and turns of his career and various accomplishments.

The 17th century villa is a perfect venue for the exposition; its sweeping view of the city brings to mind the collective memory of 20th century Florence from which the enterprise of the Primo Conti Foundation was born.  The Primo Conti Foundation, in turn, is grateful to the Villa and the Cassa di Risparmio Foundation for making it possible to honor Conti with this prestigious tribute to the artist and the cultural context in which he worked.  (leigh van ryn)

More information is available on the Villa Bardini web site.