Alfredo Volpi

27.3.2014 - 29.5.2014


In April of 1944 Alfredo Volpi (Lucca, Italy, 1896 – São Paulo, SP, 1988) held his first solo show at Galeria Itá, in São Paulo, with an introduction by Mário Schenberg. The show was a success and all of the works were sold, an exceptional feat at that time, and for this reason widely reported.

Seventy years later, on March 27, 2014, Galeria Almeida e Dale inaugurated the exhibition VOLPI - A Emoção da Cor [Volpi – The Feeling of Color], curated by Denise Mattar. The show featured 80 works from different phases, revealing the artistic path of Alfredo Volpi, a unique master and one of the greatest artists Brazil has ever produced.

In her selection, the curator prioritized artworks never shown before, while also showing some of the artist’s more emblematic works and maintaining the didactic character that characterized this exhibition. It was therefore possible to hear statements by Volpi himself and see images from his long life. The show presented paintings from the 1920s, when the artist was considered an impressionist, and took a new look at works from the 1930s, the period of the Grupo Santa Helena, emphasizing the production from the 1940s, a transition phase, when a new path was delineated. The full-fledged Volpi of the 1950s, the period of the “little flags,” evolved into the total mastery of color and shape of the 1960s, reaching its apex in 1970 in the processes of rhythm and permutation of colors.

Volpi began as a wall painter and lived practically his whole life in a modest house in Cambuci, married with Judite, his “ebony goddess,” alongside many adopted children. This has given rise to the myth of his supposed ingenuity. He was in fact shy and did not like social events, but he followed everything around him with wide-open, ravenous eyes. He savored Giotto, Margueritone, Picasso, Cézanne and Dufy - but always preferred Matisse. He knew everything about technique and chose to use tempera. For him, making the stretchers, stretching the canvases, and preparing the paints was all part of the painting process. He considered painting an arduous task and worked every day. His artistic sensitivity was highly refined and in all its phases his work has original and extraordinary characteristics.

“It’s a mistake to think that Volpi’s work only began to be important in the 1950s, when he was discovered by the concretists,” states curator Denise Mattar. “His work was already catching attention long before that. In a 1935 text, entitled “Volpi - O Wagner da pintura” [Volpi – The Wagner of Painting] the critic Virgílio Maurício wrote: “His painting is richly constructed, strangely disciplined, without any concession to glitter, juggling or virtuosity, nor to fantasy. It is pure art, without artifice (…) perfect planimetry, just the right coloration, vibration, are the attributes that live on his canvas and which are extended in his other works.” This critique, concerning Volpi’s figurative work, could very well have been written about his works from later years, demonstrating the artist’s coherence.

Volpi’s work has kindled passions throughout the decades and he has been the subject of texts by the most important Brazilian critics and artists, including Paulo Mendes de Almeida, Mario Schenberg, Sérgio Milliet, Theon Spanudis, Mário Pedrosa, Willys de Castro, Murilo Mendes, Maria Eugenia Franco, Clarival do Prado Valladares, Flávio Motta, Décio Pignatari, Waldemar Cordeiro, Haroldo de Campos, Olívio Tavares de Araújo, Lorenzo Mammi, Rodrigo Naves, Paulo Pasta, Vanda Klabin, Sonia Salztein, Alberto Tassinari and Paulo Sérgio Duarte.

This exhibition was supported by the Instituto Alfredo Volpi de Arte Moderna, created with the aim to map the artist’s oeuvre, today gathered within a virtual catalogue raisonné.

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Bandeirinhas estruturadas com mastros

Têmpera sobre tela

68 x 135,3 cm

Década de 70/80

Coleção Paula e Silvio Frota