Sunday, July 25, 2010

Antonio Donghi

 Antonio Donghi, Self-Portrait, 1942

Antonio Donghi (1897-1963) was born in Rome. He studied painting at the Istituto di Belle Arti in Rome (1908–16) before military service in France. Donghi soon established himself as one of Italy's leading figures in the neoclassical movement that arose in the 1920s. In the post-World War I "return to tradition" of the Scuola Romana he shared an interest in 17th- and 18th-century painting with Francesco Trombadori and Carlo Socrate, with whom he exhibited at the Rome Biennale of 1923.  

 Antonio Donghi, Giocoliere (Juggler), 1926

The following year Donghi was exhibited in Milano's Galleria Pesaro together with Felice Casorati, de Chirico, Ubaldo Oppi and Mario Tozzi. He also participated in the important 1925 New Objectivity exhibition in Mannheim (Germany), and had solo shows in Paris, New York and Buenos Aires. Donghi also cooperated with the Novecento Italiano group, participating in their second exhibit in 1929.

 Antonio Donghi, Circo equestre, 1927

Possessed of an extremely refined technique, Donghi favored strong composition and spatial clarity. The critic Ugo Ojetti saw his clear realism and choice of subject-matter (people, still-lifes and cityscapes) as egalitarian and related to Caravaggio's influences. The disconcerting immobility of his figures (e.g. Woman at the Window) also drew comparisons with the work of Seurat and of Henri Rousseau, and it was identified as Magic Realism by Franz Roh (Expressionismus, magischer Realismus, Leipzig, 1925).

 Antonio Donghi, Canzone, 1934

By the 1940s, Donghi's work was far outside the mainstream of modernism, and his reputation declined, although he continued to exhibit regularly. In his last years he concentrated mainly on landscapes, painted in a style that emphasizes linear patterns. He died in Rome in 1963. Most of Donghi's works are in Italian collections, notably the Museo di Roma. You can see more of his paintings here in my Flickr set.

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