Sesto Fiorentino dedicates an exhibition to the graphic work of Alfredo Müller

From Sept. 11 to Nov. 27, 2022, Sesto Fiorentino presents an exhibition dedicated to the graphic work of Alfredo Müller at three exhibition venues.

In Sesto Fiorentino, at the three exhibition venues of Rifugio Gualdo, Antonio Berti Exhibition Center and La Soffitta Spazio delle Arti, the exhibition Alfredo Müller. The Triumph of Graphic Art in Belle Époque Paris, curated by Emanuele Bardazzi and Hélène Koehl, president of the association “Les Amis d’Alfredo Müller peintre et graveur” (Strasbourg).

The exhibition will present the largest collection of the artist’s graphic works so far exhibited in Italy and abroad, reading his production in the artistic context of the time; alongside his works are those of the greatest protagonists of the golden age of graphic art and art printing in France. Alfredo Müller (Leghorn, 1869 - Paris, 1939), a painter from Leghorn who emigrated with his family to Paris in 1895 following his father’s financial collapse, was a skilled Parisian engraver for about a decade, soon becoming a leader of the renewal ofcolor etching in the French capital.

The exhibition project will be spread over three venues: the Rifugio Gualdo (former church of San Giusto) on the slopes of Mount Morello, in the municipality of Sesto Fiorentino, where the section devoted to Parisian graphic art between the 19th and 20th centuries will open as a preview on Sunday, Sept. 11 at 11 a.m., with more than 100 works on paper by various authors; the Antonio Berti Exhibition Center (a municipal gallery and former studio of the sculptor of the same name) in Sesto Fiorentino, which introduces the figure and work of the artist through a selection of works on the theme of landscape largely created during his stay in Osny; La Soffitta Spazio delle Arti, at the Circolo Arci in Sesto Fiorentino, where works created by Müller during his Montmartre years will be presented, divided into six thematic sections. The exhibitions at the Circolo Espositivo Antonio Berti and at La Soffitta Spazio delle Arti will open to the public on Sunday, Oct. 16, at 11 a.m.

In the former church of San Giusto, a wide-ranging exhibition of more than 100 works on paper is presented that aims to tell the story of the world of Parisian graphic art between the 19th and 20th centuries: from affiches to illustrated magazines, from elite to popular engravings, created by the best artists active during the fin-de-siècle printmaking heyday. The intent is to offer a total immersion in the world of graphic design and advertising of the period, touching on its most lively and joyful aspects to its most disturbing and obscure ones. It was intended not only to offer the festive side of the dances at the Moulin Rouge, but to highlight above all the more modernist aspects of the graphic revolution, as has been the case in various exhibitions on the subject held abroad in recent years, and to explore lesser-known sides of it as well.

At the Antonio Berti Exhibition Center, the exhibition will get to the heart of Alfredo Müller’s production, presenting a selection of works related to the landscape theme, with country scenes and city views accomplished in etchings in black and color especially in the period between 1902 and 1903, when the artist moved from Paris to Osny. Prominent among them is the scenic series of six large decorative color lithographs known as Frises and intended for the furnishing of houses according to the principles of William Morris, two of which, Les Paons and Les Cygnes, fully manifest his adherence to the Art Nouveau style. They were commissioned by the Parisian print dealer Edmond Sagot and are exhibited for the first time in their entirety. Also exhibited in its entirety for the first time is the La Vie heureuse de Dante Alighieri series inspired by the Vita Nuova, consisting of six Dantean subjects etched in etching and aquatint, published in Paris in 1898 in only twelve copies by the art dealer and publisher Ambroise Vollard, famous for his connections with the Impressionists and the Nabis. Dedicated to this suite will be the Oct. 23 event with music-reading excerpts from Dante’s Vita Nuova and an in-depth look at the engravings that comprise it.

It continues at La Soffitta Spazio delle Arti, where an overview of works will illustrate Müller’s etching activity when he lived in Montmartre, frequented by the most important and innovative artists of the time.

Divided into six sections (Looking at the Stage, Music, Readings, Children’s Scenes, Women’s Scenes, Symbolist Visions) it presents portraits of Paul Verlaine, dance and theater stars Jane Avril, Cléo de Mérode, Sada Yacco, Sarah Bernhardt, Edouard De Max, Marthe Mellot, and Suzanne Desprès, and the porfolio featuring the great musicians Johann Sebastian Bach, Christoph Gluck, Ludwig van Beethoven, and Richard Wagner.

Other engravings portray little Colette, daughter of fellow friend Steinlen. The child was also practically at home at Müller’s, who made her his favorite model, even multiplying her image by twos and threes in childhood scenes. The two inseparable friends Stéphanie Nantas and Marguerite Thomann, Alfredo’s future bride, are the protagonists of several plates depicting them separately or together. In addition to the portraits, other important subjects such as bathers, a typical French theme of the time interpreted by Müller in his own suave and melancholy manner, cats in homage to his friend Steinlen, and some Symbolist visions including L’Île heureuse appear at the “Attic.”

A section devoted to folios executed by artists close, friends and sodalists completes the itinerary, along with others related to the milieu of dance and theater starting with the most iconic diva ever, Sarah Bernhardt, avant-garde theater programs, publishing and bibliophilia with some illustrated books by Octave Uzanne, the manifesto of La Revue blanche and the publica by publisher Edmond Sagot with engravings by Paul Berthon, Pierre Bonnard, Leonetto Cappiello, Jules Chéret, Eugène Delâtre, Maxime Dethomas, Marie-Charles Dulac, Maurice Dumont, Eugène Grasset, Francis Jourdain, Alexandre Lunois, Gustave Marie, Alfons Mucha, Manuel Robbe, Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen, Jan Toorop, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and Félix Vallotton.

The exhibition is produced and promoted by Comune di Sesto Fiorentino, La Soffitta Spazio delle Arti - Circolo Arci Unione Operaia di Colonnata, Gruppo Gualdo.

For info:

Hours: Tuesday through Saturday from 4 to 7 p.m.; Sunday from 10 a.m. to noon and 4 to 7 p.m. Closed Mondays.

Free admission.

Image: Alfredo Müller, La Place Blanche or Le Moulin Rouge (effet de nuit), detail (1899; etching and aquatint, 66 x 41.5 cm)

Sesto Fiorentino dedicates an exhibition to the graphic work of Alfredo Müller
Sesto Fiorentino dedicates an exhibition to the graphic work of Alfredo Müller

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