Secession Retrospective Highlights Giovanni Segantini

The work of Giovanni Segantini  receives a prominent showcase in a rare Italian exhibition devoted to Modernist Secession movements.

Segantini (1858-1899) exhibited frequently in Germany and was particularly successful in Munich, where in 1896 the Münchener Neue Secession arranged a one-man show for him. He collaborated with Max Liebermann in Berlin and Gustav Klimt in Vienna. In 1894 at the second Brera triennale in Milan, Segantini met Divisionist artist Giuseppe Pellizza da Volpedo, whose work he greatly admired and with whom he maintained a voluminous correspondence.

Around 1890 the subjects of modernity and motherhood took on a major importance for Segantini. The serenity of Two Mothers is typical work, along with Angel of Life. In conveying an image of motherhood at the same time both natural and spiritual in the latter painting, Segantini combined his vigorous pursuit of naturalistic detail with a decorative, linear refinement, primarily in the sinuous winding of the tree trunk that supports the woman. In this way he created an evocative image of the mother, through an effective fusion of Christian and pagan symbolism. The fascination of the scene is enhanced by the clarity and luminosity of the colour, which plays softly and gently over the figure, and by the decorative use of rhythmical line.

These seemingly tranquil works stand in relief to the darker, more contemporary portraits and landscapes by Egon Schiele and Gustav Klimt which are also featured in the fall show, which takes place 23 September 2017 through 21 January 2018 at the Palazzo Roverella  in at Rovigo, in the Veneto between Ferrara and Padua. Entitled Secession. Munich, Vienna, Prague, Rome: The Wave of Modernity, the exhibition is a collaboration amid the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Padova e Rovigo, Vienna’s Albertina, Museum Villa Stuck in Munich, and the National Gallery Prague.

Beginning in Europe around 1892, the Secession movement did not have a well-defined structure but soon acquired Modernist associations with Jugendstil and Art Nouveau.

Reference: Aurora Scotti Tosini. “Segantini, Giovanni.“ Grove Art Online. Oxford art Online. Oxford University Press. 

Giovanni Segantini. The Two Mothers, 1889. Villa Belgiojoso Bonaparte – Museo dell’Ottocento

Giovanni Segantini. Angel of Life, c. 1890. Galleria d’arte moderna, Milan.

Giovanni Segantini. Rest in the Shade, 1892. ARTstor Slide Gallery, University of California, San Diego.

Egon Schiele. Mutter und Kind II, 1912. Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archives.

Gustav Klimt. Moving Water, c. 1897. Österreichische Galerie Belvedere, Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archives, 40-16-01/25.

Further Reading: Maria Martha Makela. The Munich Secession: Art and Artists in Turn-of-the-Century Munich. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1990.

Julie M. Johnson. Memory Factory: The Forgotten Women Artists of Vienna 1900. Ashland: Purdue University Press, 2014.

 Posted by Jean Marie Carey

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