She was a talented artist, but was forced to be a bourgeois wife and mother. An exhibition rediscovers Carla Maria Maggi

From March 8 to May 3, 2020, the Villa Borromeo d'Adda in Arcore is hosting the exhibition 'Carla Maria Maggi, the rediscovered artist.

The city of Arcore is celebrating March 8 by rediscovering a talented artist whose memory had been lost, because despite her skills she found herself having to play a part that was not her own: we are talking about Carla Maria Maggi (1913 - 2004), the protagonist of the exhibition Carla Maria Maggi, the rediscovered artist, scheduled from March 8 to May 3, 2020 at the Villa Borromeo d’Adda in Arcore (Monza-Brianza province). Carla Maria Maggi painted for a very short period of her life, despite the fact that her works revealed a promising talent. In fact, like many other female artists of her time, the painter, a daughter of Milanese good society in the 1930s, had to put aside her painting talent after marriage and take on the role of the perfect wife and mother, according to the canons of the bourgeois well-to-do of the time. Before she forgot about being an artist, however, Maggi left behind several works that tell the story of an era, sensitively portraying the world she frequented.

A pupil of Giuseppe Palanti, Carla Maria Maggi stopped painting to follow the social rules to which her husband called her, and her works were rediscovered by her son, by chance, hidden in the attic of the family’s country house. Since the rediscovery, art historians and critics such as Rossana Bossaglia, Vittorio Sgarbi and Elena Pontiggia have been concerned with her work. Maggi’s works have thus been exhibited in Milan, London and, with extraordinary success, at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington (where La Sigaretta, the painter’s masterpiece, remained on display, on temporary loan, for a few years) and have become a reason for reflection and study of the condition of women artists until very recent times, but also a reason for the rediscovery of the little-known but interesting bourgeois painting of Milan in the 1930s.

The corpus of Maggi’s work consists of some 40 works that include portraits, still lifes and (very rare for a woman artist of the time) female nudes portrayed from life. Carla Maria Maggi masterfully portrayed in her work the society she frequented and represented: on the one hand, the beautiful world of the Milanese upper middle class, divided between the city and the holiday resorts, and on the other hand, the bohemian circles of Brera and La Scala, free and full of stimuli for those who, like her, wanted to live in art. That of Carla Maria Maggi, an interrupted artist, is a story worth telling, as much as her painting is worthy of close observation.

The rediscovery is relatively recent: we can cite as a basis the work of art historian Simona Bartolena who, commissioned by the painter’s heirs, wrote a volume dedicated to Maggi in 2007, published by the Skira publishing house. The following year Palazzo Reale in Milan hosted an exhibition, curated by Pontiggia with a contribution from Bartolena herself, entirely devoted to the painter’s work put in relation to the other great portrait painters of her time. Now, twelve years after the exhibition at the Palazzo Reale in Milan, Maggi’s work is back on public display, in an exceptional event curated by Simona Bartolena herself.

The exhibition, realized in collaboration with the artist’s heirs, is told through the almost complete corpus of the painter’s works and through didactic panels that narrate her personal story. An unpublished canvas, recently found in a private collection, will also be on display for the occasion. The exhibition catalog will be available at the exhibition.

Opening hours: Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 2 to 6:30 pm. Tickets: full 5 euros, reduced 3 euros. Guided tours every first Sunday of the month from 15:00 to 18:00. For information for guided tours for groups on other dates (also outside opening hours): The exhibition is sponsored by Regione Lombardia and Italy Committee - National Museum of Women in the Arts. The event is included in the calendar of MuseoCity 2020.

Image: Carla Maria Maggi, The Cigarette (1934; oil on canvas, 80 x 59 cm)

She was a talented artist, but was forced to be a bourgeois wife and mother. An exhibition rediscovers Carla Maria Maggi
She was a talented artist, but was forced to be a bourgeois wife and mother. An exhibition rediscovers Carla Maria Maggi

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