Inquietudine di un realismo
A painter and polemicist who was rigorously anti-fascist, Renato Guttuso (1912-1987) remains one of the most controversial painters of the 20th-century. Guttuso’s initial introduction to the art world came through his father, an amateur watercolorist, who spurred him to paint. A few short years later, his works debuted at Rome’s prestigious Quadriennale exhibition. Artistic expression in Mussolini’s Italy, however, was under the thumb of a fascist government responsible for the Novecento movement. Its followers rejected European avant garde art and hoped to revive the tradition of large format history painting in a classical manner. Guttuso, whose family had personally endured persecution by fascists, was left-wing and a self-declared communist. In protest, he aligned his brush and political views, creating art that often served as a sharp, social critique.
“Guttuso. Inquietudine di un realismo”, now showing at the Quirinal Palace, focuses on the painter’s religiously inspired works. The centerpiece of the exhibit is without a doubt The Crucifixion, a large-scale oil painting that depicts its subjects naked, including Mary Magdalene (a saint in the Catholic church). Jesus is also placed off center in the composition, and his face is partially obscured. A hammer, scissors, nails, and knife render the scene even more graphic. Public backlash was immediate: the Vatican declared the painting sacrilegious and deemed Guttuso a pictor diabolicus, or a devilish painter. Catholics were even forbade to look at it. Of the controversial work, Guttuso wrote, “I wish to paint the agony of Christ as a contemporary scene…as a symbol of all those who, because of their ideas, endure outrage, imprisonment and torment.” Other works on display include Spes contra spem, Cena in Emmaus, and more.
Reservations are obligatory, and can be made either online or by phone at 0639967557.
Till October 9th
Palazzo del Quirinale, Alessandro VII Gallery
Piazza del Quirinale
Open Tues-Wed; Fri-Sun, 10am-4pm (last entrance at 3pm)
Free entry, reservation obligatory