The Faces of Parma in Luigi Froni’s Sculptures

Sculptor Luigi Froni lived and worked in Parma. He was an original, eccentric and provocative man, and he used to introduce himself as "el mat", the madman. He did not define himself as an "artist", but as a farmer. Through his art he was able to translate the physiognomy and character of the portrayed characters. Intellectuals, artists, journalists, writers of Parma of the time became the protagonists of his sculptures.

A friend (architect Mario Monguidi) (1920) by LUIGI FRONICollezione Fondazione Cariparma

"A friend" is a work made in 1920 that marks the debut of Luigi Froni. This is the portrait of Mario Monguidi, an important architect in the Parma area of the early 20th century and a great friend of the sculptor.

It is made of plaster; the long neck supports the face bent in profile, extremely thin, bony and angular. The large, sunken eyes create light effects and shadows together with the other parts of the face.

Giovannino Guareschi (1953/1954) by LUIGI FRONICollezione Fondazione Cariparma

Luigi Froni and the writer Giovannino Guareschi, nicknamed "The Prince" by the sculptor, were linked by a solid friendship, made up of common ideals and non-conformism.

“My God, who have I ever married… No, I didn’t marry you! I married the one over the fireplace! " exclaimed the writer's wife at the sight of the mask, hung by Froni in the dining room of their house.

Guareschi's mocking smile peeps under his mustache or is it rather a "bitter, contemptuous, cynical, ferocious, cruel grimace" as it was defined by his wife Ennia?

The hair is thick and wavy and the marked expression lines are focused on the forehead.

Pietro Silva (1926) by LUIGI FRONICollezione Fondazione Cariparma

Pietro Silva was a brilliant professor of History firstly at the Naval Academy of Livorno and then at the Magisterium of Rome.

He was an attentive academic; he maintained a solid bond with Parma and he was a great lover of its history. In the sculpture, the head is three quarters and the gaze is stern and proud.

Giuliano Molossi (1960) by LUIGI FRONICollezione Fondazione Cariparma

Giuliano Molossi is a journalist from Parma and former editor of the newspaper “Gazzetta di Parma”. He was Baldassarre Molossi’s son, editor of the same newspaper for 35 years, and here he is portrayed as a child

with a serene face, framed by a rich hair characterized by a long falling fringe on the forehead.

Ninetto Camattini (1960/1962) by LUIGI FRONICollezione Fondazione Cariparma

This man with an accommodating gaze was Cavalier Cesare Camattini, known as Ninetto, owner of the Art Gallery where in 1960 Froni set up a personal exhibition.

Camattini, a refined man, always smiling and generous, is portrayed with a pleased expression.

Memo Benassi (1958/1959) by LUIGI FRONICollezione Fondazione Cariparma

Domenico Benassi, known as Memo, was a brilliant and very talented actor of theater and cinema. He obtained his first great successes on the side of Eleonora Duse.

Benassi's versatility and great expressiveness exerted a strong fascination on Froni, who never missed an opportunity to capture and fix these original grimaces in bronze.

Alberto Montacchini (ante 1930) by LUIGI FRONICollezione Fondazione Cariparma

Alberto Montacchini, known as “Berto”, was a well-known photographer, actor and theatrical manager; he achieved fame and popularity in the period between the two wars and after the Second World War.

The good-natured expression of the face, framed by thick hair and with a pronounced nose, is in fact smiling.

Ettore Martini (1958/1959) by LUIGI FRONICollezione Fondazione Cariparma

Ettore Martini has been involved for over 50 years in the local public administration. Froni portrays him with a sly and smiling expression.

Professor Giovanni Valla (1956/1957) by Luigi FroniCollezione Fondazione Cariparma

Giovanni Valla was professor of the Veterinary Faculty of the University of Parma until 1957. Froni painted the portrait on the occasion of his friend's retirement.

The relaxed face hints at a friendly smile. The wrinkles on the sides of the mouth and on the forehead reveal the age of the man, now 70.

Credits: Story

Text by Fondazione Cariparma and Artificio Società Cooperativa

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