Luigi Bartolini | Original prints, lithographs, etchings and illustrated books




Luigi Bartolini (Cupramontana, 8 February 1892 - Rome, 16 May 1963) was an Italian engraver, painter, writer and poet.

Born in Cupramontana on 8 February 1892, he is considered, together with Giorgio Morandi and Giuseppe Viviani, among the greatest Italian engravers of the twentieth century. Trained at the Academy of Rome, his first etchings date back to 1914. His style is linked to the Italian naturalist tradition of the nineteenth century while looking at the prints of Rembrandt, Goya, Telemaco Signorini, Giovanni Fattori and the Italian eighteenth-century engravers. He participated, by invitation, both as an engraver and as a painter in almost all the editions of the Venice Biennale from 1928 to 1962, receiving the award for engraving in 1942. For engraving he was awarded in Florence in 1932 with Morandi and Umberto Boccioni (to memory), in 1935 at the Rome Quadriennale and in 1950 in Lugano.

In 1933 he was arrested for political reasons in Osimo, where he had lived for some years, by the fascist regime with which he had also had relations. After a month in prison in Ancona, he was first confined to Montefusco and then to Merano where he remained until 1938. According to Luciano Troisio, he was one of his biographers, of a "trial and confinement": why "Anti-fascism Bartolini's is at least strange, given that the real anti-fascists were in jail, reduced to impotence, to silence, and in any case derided, and they certainly did not like Bartolini entire pages of fascist magazines at their disposal, all their widespread work, engravings reproduced, the published poems, the narrative works reviewed by the party organs and advertised, were not received by the minister Bottai to "read the good and the good, with fraternity of affection", as Bottai himself wrote on 1 August 1932 from the holiday of Frascati "(Troisio," L'amoroso detective ", 1979; see pages 130 and following). In short: "Frankly fascism treated Bartolini with lots of gloves", concludes the Paduan literate.

However, the opinion of the "Paduan biographer" starts from a wrong assumption: that Luigi Bartolini professed to be anti-fascist. In reality the artist has always defined himself as an anarchist, indeed as a "celestial anarchist", interested only in art and not politics. In fact Bartolini does not appear among the intellectuals who, in 1925, signed the Manifesto of the fascist intellectuals, promoted by the philosopher Giovanni Gentile, with which the numerous signatories guaranteed the support and approval of the regime. (Among the signatories poets and writers such as Giuseppe Ungaretti, Luigi Pirandello, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Curzio Malaparte, Gabriele D'Annunzio, Ardengo Soffici). An interesting summary of the complex relationship between Luigi Bartolini and Fascism can be found in the book "Mino Rosi and Luigi Bartolini, an intellectual association". "The history of disturbing frictions and stormy clashes between Luigi Bartolini and Fascism could constitute a dossier of many pages. The first but already decisive episode of the dense catalog of ostracisms, censorships, interdictions that he had to suffer mainly because of his overtly critical writings towards not so much the political institution itself, as for the hierarchies of the regime and their intellectual lackeys, was in 1933 the accusation of entertaining "secret correspondence with the exiles" read Lionello Venturi (who, moreover, in Paris, had sold him a group of etchings). This first cost him the withdrawal of the party card, then the arrest and association with the Ancona prisons and the subsequent confinement in Montefusco, in that of Avellino. Mussolini then ordered the confinement in a transfer to Merano, as a political surveillance. The following was a chain of actions and reactions: prohibitions from newspapers to publish his writings, seizures of books (and destruction: see Writings of exception, Il Campano, 1942, n.d.r.), exhibition closures and more. In 1945 Bartolini told his odyssey in a pamphlet (Perché do ombra, Stampa Novografica, Rome 1945, ed.) Composed for quick quotations of testimonies and documents on his past of persecuted dissident, almost identity card or unequivocal letter of credential to take once again controversially position in the new climate, not devoid of mystification, of the post-war period ”. (See N. Micieli, Mino Rosi and Luigi Bartolini, an intellectual association. Cassa di Risparmio di Volterra Foundation, 1998).

A brief but significant testimony to the moral stature of Luigi Bartolini was also given by Unity on January 28, 2002 with a speech by Raul Wittenberg: “Dear Director, I would also like to recall, on Remembrance Day, a person thanks to whom my family, a Königsberg Jew, was able to avoid martyrdom in the Nazi camps after Hitler escaped from Germany. This is Luigi Bartolini, who died forty years ago (...). In that terrible winter of 1944, one afternoon my father was warned that the next day he would be taken with his partner by the Gestapo. We never knew who wanted to notify us. The fact is that my parents collected few things and fled to the nearby house of an anti-fascist acquaintance who had promised hospitality if they had been discovered. But no one answered the desperate insistence on the bell. It was evening, the curfew was approaching, my parents decided to try with the Master. Not only did Bartolini immediately open the door, but together with Signora Anita he welcomed mine and kept them hidden at home for over a week, just long enough to organize the escape from Rome. And Bartolini did it at his own risk (...). After many years, driven by the wave of racism and anti-Semitism that seems to emerge in the current political situation, I felt the need to publicly honor the memory of a just man (...). (See the Unit, 28 January 2002, page 29 national section Comments).

Also in the period 1949-1950 he realizes, together with a self-portrait, the harvesters for the important Verzocchi collection of Forlì, today at the Pinacoteca Civica of that city.

He was present at all the most important artistic events of his time, developing different manners defined by himself: "blonde", "black" and "linear", with these ways he created numerous etchings with: landscapes of the Marche and Sicily and the series: Insects, butterflies, birds, and hunting scenes.

His work as a writer, poet, art critic and polemicist is also remarkable, with over 70 books published with the major publishing houses, including Vallecchi, Arnoldo Mondadori Editore, Longanesi and Nistri Lischi. He was a collaborator of the main Italian magazines and newspapers: Il Selvaggio, Il Frontespizio, Quadrivio, Maestrale, Corriere della Sera, Il Borghese, La Fiera Letteraria, Il Resto del Carlino, Il Gazzettino. Few people know that the Corrente magazine takes its name from an indication by Luigi Bartolini.

In 1946 he published the novel Ladri di biciclette for the publisher Polin of Rome, from which Cesare Zavattini drew inspiration for the script of the eponymous film by Vittorio De Sica.

In 1960 he was appointed Academician of San Luca.

In 1965 he was given a retrospective in the context of the IX Quadriennale of Rome.