An exhibition in Bologna celebrates and remembers Luciano De Vita, one of the greatest Italian engravers of the 20th century

Bologna dedicates an exhibition to Luciano De Vita, one of the greatest Italian engravers of the 20th century, scheduled from September 4 to October 4, 2019.

On the 90th anniversary of the birth of painter and engraver Luciano De Vita (Ancona, 1929 - 1992), Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio in Bologna and Genus Bononiae. Musei nella città, in collaboration with ALI - Associazione Liberi Incisori, want to remember the artist with an exhibition entitled Luciano De Vita. Self-Portrait, scheduled from Wednesday, September 4 until October 4, 2019 at the Library of Art and History of San Giorgio in Poggiale (via Nazario Sauro 20/2, Bologna), where more than 50 engravings tracing his entire career will be on display.

Born in Ancona but moved to Bologna as soon as he was 16, Luciano De Vita became one of the leading Bolognese artists of the 20th century: he enrolled in 1949 at theAcademy of Fine Arts, where he attended Virgilio Guidi ’s painting and Giorgio Morandi’s Engraving courses. He became Morandi’s assistant, from 1954 to 1956. In 1961 he began teaching at theAlbertina in Turin and the following year won a professorship at theBrera Academy in Milan. He remained in Milan until 1975, when he returned to Bologna to take over the Engraving Techniques course that was Morandi’s.

Luciano De Vita is undoubtedly one of the greatest engravers of the twentieth century (although this role is still awaiting full recognition), the last interpreter of a centuries-old tradition that in Bologna unites the Carraccis with Giorgio Morandi, passing through Giuseppe Maria Mitelli and Antonio Basoli.

The etchings in the exhibition, which come from the collection of a Bolognese collector, are intended to restore the entire evolutionary arc of his career and are divided into the three sections that correspond to the three periods with which critics are now used to divide De Vita’s work: the academic period from 1951 to 1956, the informal period from 1957 to 1959, and the maturity period from 1960 to 1982.

An all-round artist, De Vita also measured himself with painting, sculpture and, since the 1970s, with theater, for which he worked as a set designer and director. However, it is in engraving that he has been able to achieve some of the most innovative and personal results, both in terms of technical experimentation and expressive drama.

The exhibition, hosted not coincidentally at San Giorgio in Poggiale, a library that preserves a rich graphic heritage, is part of the exhibition activity that Fondazione and Genus Bononiae have always dedicated to the events of the city and the rediscovery of little-known pages of its history. In this sense, the exhibition on De Vita stands alongside the one on Angelo Caviglioni (2007), the one on Alfredo Baruffi (2014), on Sante Mingazzi, an iron artist linked to the circle of Alfonso Rubbiani’s Aemilia Ars (2015), or again on Enrico Barberi and the affair that for more than twenty years saw him grappling with the Neptune fountain (2018).

Accompanying the exhibition is an exhaustive volume, edited by Marco Fiori and Marzio dall’Acqua for ALI Editions, which, through a careful selection of studies, including unpublished ones, written by the main critics who have approached the Master’s work, aims to become the most complete tool for understanding his poetics.

On the occasion of the exhibition, two in-depth meetings on the artist are scheduled: on Wednesday, September 25 at 5:30 p.m., the presentation of the volume Luciano De Vita (published by ALI) and the reprint of the Per d’Aubigné portfolio (published by Pendragon), with talks by Marco Fiori, Marzio Dall’Acqua and Antonio Bagnoli. On Thursday, October 3, also at 5:30 p.m., Marilena Pasquali’s lecture entitled The Black Manner of Luciano De Vita. Early Engravings 1950-1956.

Luciano De Vita was born in Ancona on May 24, 1929. He participated, when he was not even 15 years old, in World War II during which he lost two brothers (one of whom was a twin). Deeply marked by this event, he moved to Bologna in early 1946 to enroll in the “Giuseppe Regazzi” art school and from here, in 1949, he was admitted to the Academy of Fine Arts. He attended courses in painting by Virgilio Guidi and engraving techniques by Giorgio Morandi. Of Morandi, he became an assistant, from October 1954 to June 1956. Completely absorbed in graphic activity, in 1954 De Vita organized his first solo exhibition and, two years later, participated in the XXVIII Venice Biennale. In 1957 he won second prize at Morgan’s Paint in Rimini, the first in a long series of awards. De Vita tackles in this period themes close to Naturalism with an informal imprint: Oaks, Roots, Landscapes, Nuclei are born. To his graphic activity he associates sculpture and painting, through which he explores, with the same expressionist and dramatic language amplified by the greater dimensional possibility and chromatic matter, the areas investigated with etching: the germinal darkness of nature, man and his unconscious. His exhibition appointments multiplied: he was at the Quadriennale in Rome, then again at the Venice Biennale, theLjubljana International of Graphics, the São Paulo Biennale in Brazil and the Cincinnati Biennale. In 1962 he won the chair of Printmaking at the Brera Academy in Milan and left the Albertina in Turin, where he had begun teaching the previous year. He remained in Milan until 1975, when he was called to Bologna to take the course that had been Morandi’s. In 1967 he presented the Altare di Bologna, a monumental work composed of 42 oil panels on canvas and wood, at the Galleria de’ Foscherari.

His friend Luciano Minguzzi introduces him to the world of theater. For the Comunale di Bologna, he creates sets and costumes for Puccini’s Turandot, Verdi’sOtello, Prokofiev’s L’angelo di fuoco, Orazio Vecchi ’s Le veglie di Siena and Verdi’sAida, of which he is also director. It is a dimension, the theatrical one, where he can express himself through different materials and techniques: for La Scala in Milan he curates the sets and costumes for Gluck ’s Orpheus and Eurydice and Bartòk’s The Castle of Prince Bluebeard.

In 1975 the Galleria d’Arte Moderna in Bologna was inaugurated with a vast anthological exhibition dedicated to him, including graphics, paintings, sculptures and four large stage sets. At the same venue, he participated in the exhibition on L’Informale in Italia in 1983. He exhibited in Berlin (1984), at the XI Quadriennale in Rome in 1986 and at the exhibition L’Arte Italiana dopo l’Informale in Imola (1988). Some of his works are sent to Lima for the group show Artisti Italiani Oggi (1989).

In April 1992 Andrea Emiliani opened a major exhibition on De Vita at Palazzo Pepoli in which he presented his entire body of graphic works and some recent paintings. The artist died a few months later, on July 14, in Bologna.

Hours: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Free admission.

Pictured: Luciano De Vita, Crucifixion (1971), etching, cm. 645x655 (ed. Il Torcoliere and l’Espresso)

Source: press release

An exhibition in Bologna celebrates and remembers Luciano De Vita, one of the greatest Italian engravers of the 20th century
An exhibition in Bologna celebrates and remembers Luciano De Vita, one of the greatest Italian engravers of the 20th century

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