La Belle Epoque: Art in Italy 1880 1915

From 10 February 2008 to 13 July 2008

La Belle Epoque: less than 40 years of European history characterised by tumultous development, an unshakeable faith in progress, lightheartedness, and above all..beautiful women. The electric light erased the difference between night and day, leading to a plethora of glowing cafes, theatres, cabarets and cinemas, sparkling windows on a whirlwind of encounters. Everything seemd permittable and possible. Money and optimism appeared limitless, stimluating the senses and gratifying every desire. With the advances of science, even illness became less feared. In Paris the Eiffel Tower rose from the skyline, the Universal Exhibition celebrated the riches of the age, the Olympics returned to the worlds stage. A million kilometres of railway track opened up undreamt-of new pastures to both businesses and tourists, the new automobile invaded the roads,a brave new world of vibrancy and colour. Euphoria and frivolity were the dominating moods, notwithstanding the insidious rottenness at the core, ultimately exploding forth in the vast horror of the First World War. And the art of the period mirrored its times: recording the triumph of the beau monde, a terrestrial paradise seemingly inexhaustable, consumed, or perhaps only underlined by its diverse excesses. And as in France, so in Italy: Boldini, De Nittis, Zandomeneghi, Corcos, Gioli, Banti and Panerai lived between Paris and Rome, transmuting the parisian allure into Italian fervour. Other artists such as Casorati, Boccioni, Bonzagni, Bocchi through to Cavaglieri, have eternalised those times, those personalities, that atmosphere. And it is this art, the art in Italy from 1880 1915, which is for the first time shown in a fully comprehensive exhibition at the Palazzo Roverella in Rovigo, opening on the 10th February 2008, and following on and complmenting perfectly the recent retrospective of Mario Cavalgieri. Spnosored under the auspicesof the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio of Padua and Rovigo and the Accademia dei Concordi with local branches, it is organised by Dario Matteoni and Francesca Cagianelli. The exhibition consists of around 110 canvases and 30 or so posters, which through the recurrent image of the female portrait express the fashions and postures of the times, intimacy and recreation, public moments with excursions to the park or river, the promenade and rendezvous, the noctural world of the theatre and nightclub, the mundanity of everyday chores and the vices and excesses of an era. At the centre of all this is is always she, the woman. Between vanity and seduction, a life of luxury and the extremes of morphine and alcohol: lux, calme e volupt. A mirror of the times when the almost obligatory quest for eternal happiness becomes always more onerous. The posters on display show the divulgation and formation of myths and models, above all those of Leonetto Cappiello, one of the few who knew how to express the publicity of the anni belli. His coloured paper encapsulates the unreachable quality of a mirage, for others the certainty of the present. Social tension, discontent, and upheaval are always on the horizon, the melodies of orchestras threatened by the dark roar of cannons.
By Insidecom Editorial Staff