Portrait of Alberto Moravia (1982) by Renato GuttusoCasa Museo Alberto Moravia
"Again you have chosen well, that red shirt under the blue jacket. It is a red dot that I like very much and that I use often. Among other things, look at the combination of the same color as my sweater, we almost look like a team "
Guttuso notes as he prepares to portray his friend Moravia.
An extraordinary, intense and very long friendship that for over fifty years has marked the relationship between the writer and the painter.
Moravia and Guttuso had met at the Caffè Greco in Rome in the early 1930s.
The writer, although very young, had already published in 1929 Gli indifferenti, one of the fundamental novels of Italian literature of the twentieth century, while Guttuso, born in Bagheria, a town near Palermo, had recently arrived in Rome, coming into contact with the artists of the "Roman School", especially Corrado Cagli and Mario Mafai.
The evidence of this profound relationship can be found in the interviews, where Moravia speaks of Guttuso as the most important of his painter friends, and especially in the numerous portraits in which the painter portrays his friend, from 1940 until 1982.
Scrolling through them you can follow the evolution of the artist's language and at the same time the passage of time on the writer's face.
The great portrait of 1982 that today animates the living room of the Alberto Moravia House Museum was made in the painter's studio in Palazzo del Grillo on the occasion of the coeval release of the latest Moravian novel, 1934.
In the painting, sitting on a chair.
Moravia rests his head on his left hand, in an iconic gesture that recalls the famous Dürer Melancholy.
The gaze is intense and pensive, the frowning forehead
Gnarled hands with long fingers are marked by deep wrinkles.
Everything alludes to the passage of time and the awareness of the role assumed by the writer, of his fame.
"The face is everything, on the face of the people there is the story we are living, the trouble of the days"
"We carry it engraved more than the facts that happen to us directly or that happen far away: we are the true film of reality; and I paint it."
The many portraits that dot the artistic career of Guttuso represent a real album of the Italian culture of the twentieth century and involve writers, critics, artists and politicians - from Carlo Levi to Elio Vittorini, from Natalino Sapegno to Goffredo Parise, Corrado Cagli, Giulio Turcato, from Paolo Bufalini to Giorgio Amendola.
They are the story of a world and a historical time, that of the post-war period, in which political commitment and intellectual passion were indivisible parts of life and behavior.
In the case of the Moravian portrait, however, there is also something else. A sort of mutual transfer between the two.
For Moravia, in fact, the painter appeared "a more attractive, more fascinating and more original profession than literature" because it is made of "colors and shapes" and not of a continuous "battle with words".
Perhaps it was this awareness that drove him throughout his life to frequent artists and to collect works, now collected in the Casa Museo al Lungotevere della Vittoria.
If proof of this profound exchange is needed, just look at the photograph taken by Pino Settanni to Renato Guttuso, wearing an identical red sweater, while painting the portrait of Alberto Moravia.
At a quick glance it almost seems to see the artist painting a self-portrait in front of the mirror.
Federica Pirani, curator
Sovrintendenza Capitolina ai Beni Culturali