Domenico Cantatore | Original prints, lithographs, etchings and illustrated books




Domenico Cantatore (Ruvo di Puglia, 16 March 1906 - Paris, 22 May 1998) was an Italian painter, illustrator and writer.

Born and raised in Ruvo di Puglia, he was the last child of a family of eight brothers. He suffered hunger and poverty, but at the age of 18, under the pressure of Benedetto Nardi, he became a decorator of rooms. From Puglia, however, in 1922 he moved first to Rome, where he joined his brother Giuseppe Cantatore (1892-1942), also a painter, and then to Milan in 1925, where he began to paint and frequent the group of artists linked to the artistic movement and Literary Corrente and in 1930 held his first solo exhibition at the Gallery of Modern Art. In the Lombard capital he became a close friend of Carlo Carrà, Alfonso Gatto, Leonardo Sinisgalli of the Nobel Prize winner Salvatore Quasimodo and of the Nobel Prize winner in the same field Hrand Nazariantz, an Armenian poet exiled in Puglia after the Armenian genocide, to whom he dedicated among other things, a portrait today dispersed, of which some photographic reproductions remain. He was a close friend especially of Raffaele Carrieri, from Puglia like him. Thanks to the help of a friend, in 1932 he moved poor to Paris, where he met the impressionists in depth, as well as painting by Pablo Picasso, Amedeo Modigliani and Henri Matisse, therefore the current of the fauves. Here he also met the Italians Carlo Levi and Filippo de Pisis, but from the Parisian period only a notebook and some drypoint remains (incisor technique). Back in Milan, in 1934 he exhibited drawings of the Parisian period at the Galleria del Milione .

Became famous in Europe, in 1940 he was assigned, for clear fame, the chair of Figure at the Academy of Fine Arts of Brera, thus succeeding Aldo Carpi that will offer his student Christmas Addamiano in 1976. In 1948 he met Giorgio Morandi, from whom he assimilated realism.

He later participated in the Bergamo Prize, at the Venice Biennale, where he dedicated his personal walls and rooms to the Rome Quadriennale, where he joined the commission for the invitations of the seventh edition of 1955. In 1956 he went to Spain where he rediscovered the colors warm and bright of the south, so from this time until the eighties he concentrated particularly on landscapes and human figures: the undisputed protagonist of his works was his South, abandoned at a young age but revived on his canvases, painting sunsets , hilly landscapes but above all its "gnarled" southern men, the confreres and rites of the Holy Week and the women, sometimes from the south and dressed in black, or its sinuous "odalisques".

Cantatore also tested himself as a writer, putting his memories of a ruvese boy in black and white, first on the pages of L'Ambrosiano, then collecting his stories in books, such as The Room Painter of 1944 and Back to the Town of 1966. In 1965 a great event was organized in Ruvo di Puglia in his honor, to which also took part Quasimodo, recently awarded the Nobel Prize; for the occasion some documentaries were shown on the life of the painter and the same Cantatore, present at the meeting, was awarded a gold medal. Continuing to teach, he became the protagonist of other exhibitions and returned more frequently to visit his native country. During the last thirty years he made use of the collaboration of other artists, Domenico Bianchi on all. With them he shared the technique combined with the subjects that made him popular and easily recognizable. From the 60s he frequented the town of Montefiore dell'Aso, in the Marche region, assiduously during the summer; from these stays, according to the artist, he found new life for his work and, as a sign of his gradation, he donated to the City many of his works jealously kept inside the "Museum of St. Francis", next to works by Carlo Crivelli (famous triptych of 1400) and Adolfo De Carolis, famous painter of Montefiore.

He died on May 22, 1998 while visiting the places of his youth in Paris, at the age of 92.