Titina Maselli: Urban Paint

A traveller longing to get back

By La Galleria Nazionale

La fermata (1951) by Titina MaselliLa Galleria Nazionale

Fertile soil

Titina Maselli, was born in Rome in 1924. Daughter of the art critic Ercole Maselli, cousin of the Pirandellos, sister of the neorealist director Citto Maselli, she began painting at a very young age, immersed in the atmosphere of Roman expressionism.

Her youth training contributes to forging a strong and independent nature in her. She sold her first painting in 1944 to the well-known Turin collector Riccardo Gualino.

Images of modern life

At the age of 24, Tina Maselli staged a solo exhibition at the Obelisco Gallery in Rome, immediately arousing the interest of critics.

She began to study - a completely original proposition at the time - common objects, a pictorial subject which she developed over the course of all subsequent productions.

The figurative choice led her, in fact, to represent everyday objects such as telephones, typewriters, cars ("Bottle", 1947; "Sull’asfalto (On the asphalt)", 1948).

Her interest in the representation of archetypal images of the modern metropolis kept growing: buildings, streets, cars, lights, figures and places of the collective imagination.

The gaze is objective and deliberately avoiding any reference to dramas or personal memories: Maselli's chronicle is a description of the metropolitan collective life.

"Tutte le cose note ma non guardate abbastanza (All things known but often overlooked)"

Autostrada di notte (1951) by Titina MaselliLa Galleria Nazionale

New York

Her vision fully matured during her stay in New York (1952-55).

Here, the suggestions of the urban panorama, especially the night one, made of lights, bars, theatres and cinemas, gave life to a production marked by references to futurist dynamism, which then evolved towards a figuration that features subjects set as in a cinematographic shot.

The obsessiveness of repetition represents the obsessiveness of reality.

"Her modernity was to make a clean sweep of all sentimentality, of everything already known about things... she wanted to paint the very essence of the urban, municipal scene" (Lea Vergine)

"A traveller longing to get back"

On her return from New York, she spent a few years in Austria, between Vienna and Carinthia, dedicating herself compulsively to the study of colour.

Maselli returned to Rome in the early 1960s; in those years, her painting presented the same subjects but the representation became colder and flatter through the use of two-dimensional planes and bright, anti-naturalistic colours, which brought her somewhat closer to the results of pop art.

Common language of communication

In her artistic career, Titina Maselli crosses the streams of many pictorial currents, without ever adhering to one in particular, from futurism to pop art, from informal to new realism, but only and always in her quest to capture those "shots" of modernity.

The Roman artist refused any affiliation to groups and movements, in years in which it was almost inevitable to place oneself in an artistic collective.

Human figure

Maselli's production is later devoted to the study of moving human figures, fixed on the canvas as silhouettes cut out on the surface. She favoured sports images, in particular boxers and footballers.

“The human presence, even in paintings where it is absent, is felt because modernity means history, and thus human history. It seems to me that the figure is crossed by space, which drags and breaches it. There is a constant interpenetration. Therefore, I believe to be very far from emptiness and absence”.

The setting

From the second half of the 70s, in parallel with painting, she began an intense activity as set designer and theatrical costume designer, working mainly for French productions and German.

Important personal exhibitions began from the late 1980s.

"Painting is thought, not voluptuousness"

Credits: All media
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