The colours of Piero Marussig

"He was indifferent to all cases of life; a repulsion without emphasis on facts, trade, confront, customs. In so many years we have never heard him speak of himself".

By Boschi Di Stefano House Museum

The Garden (1914) by Piero MarussigBoschi Di Stefano House Museum

Marussig is one of the greatest exponents of the Italian twentieth century: the evolution of his style and the various suggestions he collected during his travels led him to analyze a very important element in his paintings, the color.

He was born in Trieste in 1879 and learnt the first basics of painting at the Academy. He travelled all over Europe, visiting the major artistic centres of the time: in Munich he met the Secession that led him to various chromatic experiments.

Wife's Portrait (c. 1929) by Piero MarussigBoschi Di Stefano House Museum

After he married Rina Drenik, he moved to Rome. Here he has the opportunity to learn more about the Italian artistic tradition and academic classicism.

" [...] I lived most of the days in museums, in picture galleries. I loved the classics and wanted to explain the secrets of their painting. My first passion was Titian".

In this portrait of his wife he manages to define the volume of his face through effects of light and shadow with unusual and bright colour combinations. He prefers a dimension that is more focused on psychological representation..

Flower Vase (1915) by Piero MarussigBoschi Di Stefano House Museum

In 1905 he moved to Paris: he met the artistic innovations of the time, he learned the influences of post-impressionism and felt close to the need for a renewal of artistic production that the great French masters were looking for.

"I started painting after I was in Paris. Now they're saying badly about the school in Paris: probably it deserves it..."

"... I, in my opinion, am certain of one thing: that Paris has helped me to understand modernity. It took from my head all the prejudices that had hidden there, it gave me a breath. For that I am grateful in Paris. I've been there a year and a half."

It approaches a new color sensibility for brighter and more vibrant color than previous generations. It takes full advantage of the properties of line and color to highlight the importance of light and space, given with acid colors and audacious combinations of pink, yellow, blue and green.

Seaside Villa (c. 1929) by Piero MarussigBoschi Di Stefano House Museum

In 1906 he returned to Trieste and decided to retire to his villa: in these years he continued his personal research and made colour independent, no longer considering it the colour of the object but an element in itself.

Until 1919 he remained in the city and analyzed how to describe reality using as an expressive key abstract forms and coloristic motifs, without reproducing it from an objective point of view.

He wants to perceive and make colors as sensations, subjective expressions of the artist: the painting is illuminated by fresh tones of blue, green and purple.

Still Life with Mask (1925) by Piero MarussigBoschi Di Stefano House Museum

It gives the most expressive possibilities of the brushstroke: he has already found in Cézanne the union between form and colour that give the canvas a balance that expresses the subjective data of the author through colours and forms, free to assume different meanings in a synthetic way.

His style changed around 1920 after moving to Milan: he pushed colour back to strict limits and directed his research towards a consolidation of form.

His painting is considered as "private" made up of figures in silent interiors, in standing poses, surrounded by everyday objects. He painted simple things with a difficult soul: a bottle, a cup, a tent, a woman, a flower.

Still Life with Flask of Wine (c. 1930-35) by Piero MarussigBoschi Di Stefano House Museum

"Since 1919 I have tried to achieve everything with the greatest simplicity, according to my temperament. I cannot paint something I don't feel, not even an apple."

"[...] I was looking for the intensity of the colour, and the shapes it had to develop, I had to position them not like many do outside the painting, but inside, so that their mystery could be understood in full in front of me".

Still Life (1934) by Piero MarussigBoschi Di Stefano House Museum

From 21 October to 5 November 1920 he had an exhibition at the Vinciana gallery in Milan, where he had the opportunity to come into contact with Milan's cultural scene and felt the need to be part of an artistic movement.

He reached an expressive maturity such as to enter the group of Seven Painters of the Twentieth Century coordinated by Margherita Sarfatti. They are artists who come from different artistic experiences but are linked by a need to return to order after the avant-garde of the beginning of the century.

He returns to a concept of painting from the past, he wants to give his canvases spiritual value, through a wanted simplism with a clever technique. He tries to find symmetry between reality and representation to find an objective order of the sight.

The Window (c. 1915) by Piero MarussigBoschi Di Stefano House Museum

Carrà remembers him with these words:
"Marussig would have liked to be born for the dream, and so far his existence was the one of a solitaire. “

"… He was an aristocrat of the spirit, and had such a pure and strong passion for art that perhaps it was not even understood by us that we were close to him."
He died on October 13, 1937.

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