Carlo Mattioli | Original prints, lithographs, etchings and illustrated books




Carlo Mattioli (Modena, 8 May 1911 - Parma, 12 July 1994) was an Italian painter.
In 1925 his family moved from Modena to Parma, where the painter resided permanently throughout his life. He trained at the Institute of Art and began his artistic activity, with ways that reflected the experience of Giorgio Morandi. The first major public release took place in 1940 at the Venice Biennale, where he was invited to numerous successive editions, obtaining important prizes and awards. In 1943 his first personal exhibition was held in Florence, thanks to the interest of Ottone Rosai.

The forties and fifties are characterized by a production that is characterized by an evocative figurative tonality. Those were the years of his cultural maturation, attentive not only to the most varied past and contemporary pictorial experiences, but also rich in interest in literature, especially in poetry. He established a fertile and non-transitory relationship, among others, with Attilio Bertolucci and Mario Luzi. Mattioli's activity as a book illustrator was linked to this literary interest; activity that became particularly intense in the sixties with engravings and lithographs for the Reasoning by Pietro Aretino, the Chartreuse de Parme and the Vanina Vanini by Stendhal, the Sonettas by Guido Cavalcanti, the Belfagor by Machiavelli, the Canzoniere by Petrarca, La Venexiana, comedy for the theater of an unknown 16th century author, and other works still.

The sixties were the years of his full affirmation with the general public. His production was marked by the laborious search for ever new modes of expression, with a pictorial vein, suspended between formal and informal, which he supported, proceeding by thematic cycles, his meticulous exploration of the territories and the possibilities of pictorial language. In recent years, the series of Nudes, Nature Deaths and, in particular, Caravaggio's Trash Studies. Among the awards of this period it must be remembered that, in 1964 he was awarded with the Fiorino Prize in Florence, at the XV National Exhibition; in 1966 he was appointed a member of the Clementine Academy and, in 1968, of the National Academy of San Luca.

In 1970 the first anthological exhibition of his works was set up in Parma, brought to Carrara the following year. During the seventies he continued and renewed the search for a poetic capable of expressing the sudden emergence of consciousness, as in an instantaneous illumination, of emotions emanating from the observation of an infinitely changing nature, both represented by the Beaches of Versilia ( 1970 -74), from the Poppy Fields (from 1974), from the Lavande (from 1978), from the Ginestre (from 1979). Mattioli resorted to a very wide range of pictorial techniques, with a dominant of oils with strong material thickening, while his palette experimented with the full range of communication possibilities, from landscapes designed with only different shades of white, to paintings - such as Own Self-portraits - immersed in the black of the night.

While in Italy a large number of artists felt the need to confront themselves with problems of a social nature, Mattioli's poetics remained faithful to the "metastoric" themes of wonder for the world and of the existential restlessness of being in the world. From this period the surprising series - not without references to Claude Monet - of the Aigues Mortes (1977-1979): a series of aerial visions of iridescent shapes and colors, aimed at investigating the uncertain boundary between the organic and the inorganic, between life and death. In this period (from 1975) he also began producing the tender portraits of his granddaughter Anna, which seem to have been made to involve the child in a fairy tale invented for her, and built to give shape to her discovery of the world.

During the eighties, Mattioli's poetry, far from exhausted in the appraised re-proposed of the already experienced expressive forms, was renewed through the exploration of new subjects: the great Green woods (1981), the Muri (1982), the Pinete ( 1983). Other themes, such as the Heavens, left to settle at the back of the memory, were periodically revisited through a sort of "combinatoria vis" of shapes and colors, capable of giving rise to an inexhaustible range of variations on the theme.

The search for new expressive forms also intensified through the meticulous selection of unusual surfaces on which to lay down one's own colors: pages taken from ancient manuscripts, old worn canvases, wooden boards tried by time. Thus, through the realization of the work, a sort of strongly suggestive alchemic transmutation of objects in which the new and the old form interpenetrate, respecting the mutual essences, is accomplished.

In this regard, the Great Crucifix (1985) deserves a special mention, made in memory of his wife Lina, with ancient wisely connected tables. This is a non-occasional combination of Mattioli with sacred art: only in 2000 will he be given the necessary critical attention with an exhibition held in Parma entitled Luce da Luce.
Among the numerous awards of this period, at least one major retrospective by Pier Carlo Santini should be mentioned, which was set up in the Palazzo Reale in Milan (1985). In it were displayed for the first time the Taccuini, a private collection of pictorial proofs on different paper supports, as if to keep track of the artistic deposit of one's memory. Important in the area of ​​sacred depictions is the friendship with Giulio Salvadori, an artist from Mosio to whom he will be very close and who will share with him this theme, so profound and so important for his art.

In 1986, for its seventy-five years, an anthological exhibition of landscapes was created in Ferrara; the Emilia-Romagna region published a volume on his work. The international reputation of Mattioli is by now consolidated (as evidenced by the long list of personal exhibitions also made abroad). The Arthur Rimbaud Museum, in Charleville-Mézières, exhibits a series of pastels, entitled Illumination by Mattioli himself, to pay homage to the "cursed poet".

In 1993, after a period of poor health, Mattioli made his last series of works on the white landscapes of the Apuan Alps.

After the death of the painter in 1994, his work continues to hold the attention of the public and critics with anthological exhibitions in Italy and abroad, giving him the "status" of one of the most important personalities of the Italian figurative art of the war. In 1996 the Carlo Mattioli Archive was born in Parma with the aim of supervising the declarations of authenticity of the Master's work and promoting its knowledge.