Study for the series "Lyric explosion" - ALBERTO MAGNELLI
Study for the series "Lyric explosion" (Magnelli)

ALBERTO MAGNELLI (Florence 1988 – Meudon, Frane 1971)

Alberto Magnelli was born on July 1, 1881, in Florence, Italy. Self-taught, he was an admirer of Renaissance artists Andrea del Castagno, Paolo Uccello, and Piero della Francesca. He was particularly interested in fresco painting, whose influence is apparent in his experimental compositions in collage, painting, and drawing. In 1911 the founder of Futurism, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, invited him to join his artistic and social movement, but Magnelli declined. Although he exhibited with the group, he instead followed the path of abstraction, even while retaining some Futurist elements.
Early in his career, Magnelli traveled to Paris to visit fellow artists; in 1914 he bought works by Pablo Picasso, Juan Gris, Carlo Carrà, and Alexander Archipenko for his uncle, the collector Alessandro Magnelli. In this period, Magnelli’s work was primarily figurative. The artist’s first abstract works appeared during the winter of 1914–15. He made a series of what he called “invented works”, characterized by bright areas of colors and elliptical patterns. In 1916 he started his military training, and upon his release began experimenting with geometric figuration, as seen in the series Lyric Explosion. These pictures celebrate the end of the war, creatively integrating Fauvist color, the dynamism of Futurism, and the armature of Cubism. After the war, Magnelli traveled to Germany, Switzerland, France, and Austria before eventually settling in Paris in 1930. A trip the following year through the Carrara marble region in Italy inspired the series Stones (Pierres, 1931–36): haunting, Surrealistic portrayals of massive marble blocks rendered in simplified lines, an abstracted and heavy plasticity against an otherworldly background.
During World War II, the artist lived in Grasse, France, keeping company with artists Robert Delaunay and Jean Arp. Beginning in 1936, Magnelli created textural geometric collages, using materials including corrugated cardboard, emery cloth, music paper, stitched wire, and metal plates. He also executed a number of paintings on schoolchildren’s wood-framed slate boards (1937–43). Many of these works were luminous geometric compositions constructed from flat areas of color and inscribed white lines, while others were inscriptions of purely geometric lines. During this time, Magnelli also participated in the activities of the Abstraction–Création group with Vasily Kandinsky, Piet Mondrian, and Arp. He returned to Paris in 1944, and soon began making refined geometric works. In 1959 he moved to Meudon, France, where he died on April 20, 1971.
Magnelli’s first solo exhibition in the United States was at the Nierendorf Gallery, New York (1937), and he went on to have numerous exhibitions at venues including the Palais des beaux-arts, Brussels (1954); Kunsthaus Zürich and Palazzo Strozzi, Florence (1962); Musée d’art moderne de la Ville de Paris (1968); and Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (1989). Magnelli’s work was also included in several important group exhibitions, including L’arte concreta, Galeria Il Milione, Milan (1938); Venice Biennale (1910, 1950, 1960); São Paulo Biennale (1951, 1953, 1955); and Documenta, Kassel, Germany (1955, 1959).

Florence, Palazzo Pitti
Florence, Museo Novecento
Rome, National Gallery of Modern Art - GNAM
Turin, Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art – GAM
Rovereto, Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art - MART
Pieve di Cento (BO), MAGI '900
Bologna, Gallery of Modern Art
London, British Museum
Paris, Centre Georges Pompidou
New York, Museum of Modern Art - MoMA
New York, Guggenheim Museum
Basil, Kunstmuseum Basel
Marseille, Museum Cantini
Saint-Étienne, Museum of Modern Art