Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Cagnaccio di San Pietro

Cagnaccio di San Pietro, Primo denaro (Money first), 1928

Cagnaccio di San Pietro (1897-1946), born Natale Bentivoglio Scarpa, grew up on the island of San Pietro in the Venetian lagoon. Since his early childhood he showed a real aptitude for artistic activities. His artistic training was at the Academy of Fine Art in Venice, where he studied under Ettore Tito.  In 1919 he exhibited with Gino Rossi and others in Venice, exposing chromatography music and speed-strength lines of a landscape. These early works reflected his interest in Futurism, but by the early twenties - comparable to Christian Schad - he intensely studied the works of Ubaldo Oppi, Achille Funi and Felice Casorati, adopting a nearly photorealistic style.

 Cagnaccio di San Pietro, Donna allo Specchio, 1927

In 1922 Cagnaccio exhibited for the first time at the Venice Biennale. His favorite subjects at that time were still lifes, children, and the daily life, painted in a detached and sometimes dramatic style with an extreme attention to detail. Not too far from the formal achievements of the German New Objectivity, Cagnaccio pushed realism to its most extreme and alienated form.

 Cagnaccio di San Pietro, After the Orgy, 1928

One of his best-known paintings, After the Orgy (1928), shows three nude women (apparently the same model in three different poses) asleep on a floor littered with wine bottles, playing cards and cigarettes, with an effect more depressing than titillating. It was rejected by the Committee of the Venice Biennale, probably for the brutal clarity with which it revealed the corrupt power of fascism. (the cuffs bear the fasces, the insignia of Italian Fascism).

Cagnaccio di San Pietro, L'alzana, 1935

Cagnaccio's health disintegrated in the 1940s, and he spent the war years hospitalized in Venice, where he died on May 29, 1946. You can see more of his works here in my Flickr set.

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