Balla and the female figure

Balla and the female figure

Balla and the female figure
Balla and the female figure

Galleria Bottegantica is pleased to present the exhibition Balla and the female figure | Between intimism and the search for truth with which the gallery intends to pay tribute to Giacomo Balla, one of the most important and original exponents of 20th century Italian art. A special preview with a selection of works will open the exhibition at the MIART fair in Milan from the 31st of March till the 3rd of April, where the gallery will be present in the DECADES section, at stand A100. The exhibition will then move from the 6th through the 30th of  April to Galleria Bottegantica, in Via Manzoni 45.

Four years after Giacomo Balla. A Futurist Reconstruction of the Universe (2018), which focused on the painter's futurist experience, Bottegantica dedicates an exhibition to the declinations of femininity interpreted by the artist in two apparently distant periods of his production, the divisionist years of the early 20th century and the figurative-realist phase of the 1930s and 1940s.

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The exhibition, curated by art historian Elena Gigli (who also curates the artist's archive) presents, alongside two works executed by Balla at the beginning of the 20th century, a selected nucleus of paintings by the mature Balla. This juxtaposition creates a dialogue between the different ways of interpreting the figuration of early and late Balla, under the banner of the centrality of the female figure.

In the works of this exhibition, Balla reveals his ability to enter the soul of those he wants to portray, driven by the search to render reality in a profound and sincere way. Quiete Operosa (1898) and La Famiglia Stiavelli (The Stiavelli Family, 1905) are part of early 20th century portraits in which women are often the protagonists, depicted in interiors or in the open spaces of Villa Borghese. These two works reveal Balla's intention to capture reality in an overall vision that is both psychological and environmental, in which the interiority of the subjects dialogues with their surroundings. In Quiete Operosa, Balla portrays Elisa Marcucci, whom he married in 1904, intent on embroidering near the window; the light radiates into the room, creating a delicate chiaroscuro. In La Famiglia Stiavelli, on the other hand, a white, almost artificial light illuminates every element of the studio from the front, drawing attention both to the family - the painter at her easel, her husband, and the girls with their fixed gaze - and to the objects in the studio.

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In the summer of 1929, Balla moved with his family to Via Oslavia 39B. Casa Balla soon became the home where the emotional and artistic relationships between the artist and his family became intertwined; Giacomo, his wife Elisa, his two daughters, Luce and Elica, and his cousin Francesca Marcucci. In the painting Timidity, painted in 1932, the model is his daughter, Luce, who poses on the terrace, enthralling the viewer with her gaze. In Perfume of Roses (1940), the bright colours of the petals, bathed in light, refract into the surrounding space, reintroducing the dialogue between subject and environment that drove Balla in his perception of reality and his search for truth. The female universe then expands to include the family friend, the young Giuliana Canuzzi, who poses for the cycle of Four Seasons in Red, made between 1939 and 1940. Drawing inspiration from the artistic and fashion photography of those years, Balla immerses the model in a warm, energetic, and vital red, and illuminates her with a warm, grazing light from below, emphasising the modernity of this female figure, a symbol of the renewal of the seasons and at the same time a diva of her epoch.

The figure of Giacomo Balla is also being celebrated by the Bank of Italy in a show which is open simultaneously with ours; Giacomo Balla 1902-1940; Esistere per dare (Exist to give). Curated by Elena Gigli and held at the bank’s Milan headquarters, Via Cordusio 5, it can be visited until April 30th 2022 (Tuesday to Friday, 3.30-5.30 pm; Saturday, 10 am-1 pm; free admission. Reservations at the following link: www.giacomoballa-esistereperdare.it

The exhibition Balla al Femminile; Tra intimismo e ricerca del vero is also our opportunity to present a new catalogue by Bottegantica and Sagep edizioni, edited by Elena Gigli.

Milan, February 2022

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