On the occasion of its third participation in Frieze Masters, Applicat-Prazan will be exhibiting a selection of exceptional paintings by post-war painters including a masterpiece by Alberto Magnelli dated 1914.
Born in Florence in 1888, Alberto Magnelli was a self-taught artist who started to paint in 1907. His early paintings, in vivid hues, depicted the landscapes of his native Tuscany. His style then developed into the abstract: “imaginary landscapes” as the artist liked to say. In 1911 he met the Futurists and, although he did not formally adhere to the movement, he became friends with Soffici et Palazzeschi. In 1914 he left for Paris with Palazzeschi, where he was to discover Cubism and meet Max Jacob, Apollinaire, Picasso, Juan Gris, Matisse, Léger, de Chirico and Archipenko.
These influences on his style brought it closer to Abstraction and he undertook creative research using blocks of colour outlined in black, making him one of the principal artists of the 20th century Avant-Gardes.
In this work painted in 1914 in Florence and titled « La Foire », Magnelli uses pure colours in bright tones. He tries to make the pictorial space more complex by mixing up the foreground and the background. “The black outline seems to want the drawing to become the active element of the construction. The lines cut across each other, extending inside the neighbouring form but, far from tearing the canvas apart, respecting the unity of the form by juxtaposing the different elements, be they human, natural or architectural, and conferring on them an artistic equality independent of their meaning.” The colour blocks show off the chromatic richness and highlight the level of maturity Magnelli had attained in his use of colours. Exhibited in the major retrospectives of the Artist, this masterpiece comes from an important private Italian collection.
In 1915, after « La Foire » and the series painted in 1913-14 to which it belongs, Magnelli found himself blocked in Florence by the outbreak of the great war and Italy’s partipation thereof. It was at this time that he painted his first resolutely abstract series of paintings, the first Artist to do so in Italy.
“Whilst the Artist’s palette continues to be as bright and the colour still applied in blocks, the black line which gave form and sense to the subject has disappeared, and from this point on nothing separated the areas of colour in direct confrontation with one another, as they would be, half a century later, in the gouache cut-outs of Matisse” (Daniel Abadie)