The Bailo Museum dedicates an exhibition to the masterpieces of Arturo Martini

The Luigi Bailo Museum in Treviso is hosting from March 31 to July 30, 2023 the exhibition "Arturo Martini. Masterpieces," starting with the Treviso artist's extensive collection housed in the museum.

From March 31 to July 30, 2023, the Luigi Bailo Museum in Treviso is hosting the exhibition Arturo Martini. Masterpieces, curated by Fabrizio Malachin and Nico Stringa. In Arturo Martini’s own words, works that “weigh tons and seem as light as a feather” will be on display, through which the public will be able to go through all the stages of the Treviso sculptor’s artistic production. It will be an opportunity for scholars to formulate the new point on Martini studies, highlighting Martini’s role and modernity in 20th-century European sculpture.

Thanks to theextensive collection of his works at the Bailo Museum, which date from the artist’s early production to the years of his maturity, Arturo Martini is always in the spotlight. The monumentally largeAdam and Eve is almost the museum’s calling card, thanks to a windowed wall that allows it to be glimpsed from the street. It is a masterpiece that Treviso won thanks to a public subscription held 30 years ago, in 1993.

The exhibition will be divided into five sections: starting with the permanent section that the Bailo reserves for the sculptor, here to be retraced are the years of his apprenticeship, marked by the influence of masters such as Giorgio Martini (father of the already famous Alberto) and Antonio Carlini. Soon after came the first exhibitions in Treviso and Venice and the first awards. Then the long stay in Munich and the influence of Paris. Sculptures, with plaster and concrete works such as Maternity and Allegory of the Sea and Allegory of the Earth, are joined by important graphic and ceramic experience, for which he collaborated with the Gregorj kiln.

The second section continues with a focus on his great masterpieces. As in the 1967 exhibition, the Lion of Monterosso - Chimera, and that Prodigal Son that was chosen as the exhibition’s poster will be placed at the opening. The physical layout of the museum allows each room to be reserved for a precise focus around a single masterpiece. In the room reserved for Woman Swimming Underwater, the preparatory bronze will be exhibited for the first time alongside the marble, while multimedia technologies will give the illusion of being underwater. One room will be devoted to a comparison between La Pisana and Woman in the Sun: two women’s nudes that are a sublime expression of that swirl of sensuality and grace, boldness and charm, which had so captivated and bewitched Martini. And again Tobiolo, a work that first won unanimous acclaim in Milan, Venice, and Paris. Published on the front page of the Corriere della Sera on May 17, 1935, the work marked a kind of consecration in Martini’s career. The Tobiolo clutching a fish in his hands will be juxtaposed with the later Tobiolo “Gianquinto,” which presents an innovative iconographic setting, in line with the achievements of the Diver and the Resting Boxer. And then the monumental Happy Bride of 1930, first shown at the Quadriennale in Rome and never exhibited again for more than 30 years: a gesture of spontaneous exultation in a riot of forms, ornaments, and bulges to emphasize joy and gladness.

Other rooms will be devoted to other monumental masterpieces, such as The Drinker, Seated Boy (some of Martini’s large terracottas of rare expressive power), The Vigil. There will be no shortage of new, never-before-seen works, such as the monumental Sacred Heart (3.20 eters high). The plaster, modeled in 1929 when he was in Monza for the church in Vado Ligure, was rejected because it was considered incongruous with the traditional canons of sacred art: jealously preserved by the artist in his house-museum it will be exhibited for the first time. Another plaster cast of large proportions is The Happy Bride. It appeared for the first time at the I Quadriennale in Rome, and is a riot of ornaments, lace, bulging fabrics. Almost as if to celebrate the last great monograph, that of 1967, the famous Titus Livy (the marble is in the atrium of the Liviano in Padua) will be present: it will be exhibited thanks to the cast made for that Treviso exhibition: the recovered and restored plaster cast will be placed side by side for the first time with its preparatory sketch.

The third section will instead be entirely reserved for majolica, small-scale sculptures that document Martini’s greatness and creativity. Minor works only in appearance: they express all the tenacity and curiosity with which the artist experimented with every possible material and serve as a laboratory for later reworkings. A section within the section will be devoted to the unique pieces modeled and majolica-worked at ILCA in Nervi and exhibited in the Monza solo show. It is the affirmation of the sculptor-ceramist who makes works for himself, breaking away from the ’dependence’ of industrial logics. ’Small’ masterpieces where there is no lack of invention, harmony and even irony. Among them: Reclining Woman, The Lovers’ Escape, The Explorer, Visit to the Prisoner, Brigands, up to the series of animals where a few contrasting brushstrokes stand out.

Alongside monumental commissions Martini also produced works of smaller format. Reflection on the antique, after a visit to Naples, led him to Blevio on Lake Como to create in a few weeks a series of plaster masterpieces, where the study of the construction and movement of the figure lead to solutions antithetical to monumental ones. Research and experimentation, in works such as Centomestrista, Death of Sappho, Solomon, Laocoon, Rape of the Sabine Women, Susanna, and Frightened Amazons, which in the third section allow us to tell the story of the artist in constant research, capable of continually inspiring himself and reworking in a completely personal way.

To Martini the painter is dedicated the fourth section. To highlight how drawing, graphics and painting are traces of a parallel and complementary research to sculpture, evident in the cheramographs (a term he invented for prints from clay “sheet” matrices) of the Ca’ Pesaro years and in the “neo-medieval” graphics of religious subjects, to which a section of the permanent exhibition is also dedicated, for the occasion supplemented by works never before presented in an exhibition that will reveal a previously unseen aspect of Martini.

Concluding the itinerary will be the fifth section entitledLa maturità nei capolavori del Bailo (Maturity in the Bailo’s Masterpieces): the first rooms are devoted to bronzes from the 1920s, drawing, graphics and painting. It is in the light of the Museum’s cloister, in a silent and suspended space, that one of Martini’s most poetic masterpieces, The Venus of the Ports, is fulfilled, in a dimension that has to do with the sense of waiting, loneliness and boredom encompassed in the melancholy nude of a woman waiting for Love. Acquired by the municipality in 1933, it is one of the large terracottas created in the period between the late 1920s and the very early 1930s and constituting the period of the artist’s highest inspiration and in which he fuses together, in a revolutionary unicum, classical forms (from Etruscan and Greek art to that of the masters of the 13th and 14th centuries) with new plastic concepts.

The tour ends in the cloister where theAdam and Eve can be seen.

Image: Arturo Martini, The Nena, detail (c. 1929; terracotta)

The Bailo Museum dedicates an exhibition to the masterpieces of Arturo Martini
The Bailo Museum dedicates an exhibition to the masterpieces of Arturo Martini

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