welcome to the

The MART Collections, established in 1987 from the art collections of the Province and the Municipalities of Trento and Rovereto, have been enriched over the years thanks to deposits from private collectors and foundations. In the rooms on the first floor of the building designed by Mario Botta, a selection of this heritage consisting of some 20,000 works, where Italian art is the protagonist, can be seen.
The exhibition begins with the red rooms of Fragments of a History, a section dedicated to the Collections once exhibited in the museum’s first location, the Renaissance Palazzo delle Albere in Trento.
In the white rooms, on the other hand, the story of The Invention of the Modern unfolds, from Medardo Rosso to the Divisionists, from Futurism to abstract art, passing through the protagonists of Metaphysics, the Italian Novecento and Magic Realism.


giustiniano degli avancini

Nello studio del pittore


Bartolomeo Bezzi

Giorno di magro



Andrea Malfatti

Schiava ribelle


Luigi Bonazza

La leggenda di Orfeo/ Rinascita d’Euridice/ Morte d’Orfeo


Umberto Moggioli

Campagna a Treporti


The Collections


Medardo Rosso

Carne altrui


Umberto Boccioni

Nudo di spalle



Carlo Carrà

Composizione TA


Carlo Carrà

Le figlie di Loth


Arturo Martini

Il poeta Cechov


Giorgio de Chirico

La matinée angoissante


Giorgio de Chirico

Autoritratto con la madre




Mario Sironi

Il povero pescatore


Marino Marini



Felice Casorati




Carlo Carrà

Ciò che mi ha detto il tram


Giacomo Balla

Linee forze di paesaggio + giardino


Gino Severini

Ritratto di Madame M.S.



Tullio Crali

Le forze della curva


Fortunato Depero

Movimento d’uccello




Manlio Rho



Fausto Melotti

Contrappunto domestico


Fausto Melotti

Scultura n. 23


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Giustiniano Degli Avancini (Levico, TN, 1807 – Venice, 1843)
Nello studio del pittore (Il pittore e la sua famiglia)(In the Painter’s Studio -The Painter and his Family), (1839-1843)
Oil painting on canvas, 95,5 x 118 cm
Mart, Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Trento and Rovereto
Autonomous Province of Trento – Superintendence for Cultural Heritage

Our tour of the Mart Collections begins with a work by Giustiniano degli Avancini executed between 1839 and 1843 and entitled Nello studio del pittore (In the Painter’s Studio). The painting is part of the transition from Neoclassicism, the milieu in which the artist was educated, to 19th century Realism. 

The protagonists are portrayed in dialogue with each other in a conversation piece.  This pictorial genre, in vogue in the Netherlands and England since the 17th century, portrays scenes of family life with groups of people engaged in conversation. The painting depicts the artist in the act of showing one of his works to his parents and an acquaintance. The relationship
among the figures is highlighted by the play of glances and the movement of hands, to give the idea of a moment of real life. At the same time, the composition appears carefully studied and recalls
Il concerto interrotto (The Interrupted Concert) by Titian, animated by a similar gesture and exchange of glances. 

His years spent studying in Rome had brought the Trentine painter closer to the purist tendency of the Nazarenes, a group of German painters who resided in the former Franciscan convent of San Isidoro and were inspired by 15th century Italian art. 

Bartolomeo Bezzi (Fucine di Ossana, TN, 1851 – Cles, TN, 1923)
Giorno di magro – (Day of Abstinence), 1895
Oil painting on canvas, 136,6 x 200 cm
Mart, Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Trento and Rovereto
Archaeology, Fine Arts and Landscape Superintendence Repository for the City of Naples

Giorno di magro (Day of Abstinence) by Bartolomeo Bezzi is part of a collection of large paintings of Venetian settings, executed in the last two decades of the 19th century. The subject is typical of the ”genre painting”, which began in the 16th century in Flanders to depict moments of everyday life. Here we see a Venetian square populated by street vendors and women at the fish market. The scene is rendered as a “‘spot painting” in which light and shade are freed from the rigidity of drawing, capturing the immediacy of the visual impression.
Bezzi is a painter of Trentino origin who lived between 1851 and 1923. After attending the Brera Academy in Milan, where he actively participated in the debate on Impressionism, he lived between Verona and Venice and exhibited at the most important international exhibitions. He mainly painted landscapes but did not disdain genre painting, influenced by the Venetian painter Giacomo Favretto.
A glimpse of landscape emerges in the background of this large canvas. It may recall the style of the French painter Camille Corot, for the nuanced quality of the colour and the grey glazing lending the work a melancholic vein, typical of a rainy day, lit only by the red and green of the shawls of the two women in the foreground. A vibrant and fresh painting that captures life like a snapshot, suggesting a sense of actuality and chronicle of the present, just as in the Realism literature of the time, committed to recounting the life of “people intent on their own affairs”.

Andrea Malfatti (Mori, TN, 1832 – Trento, 1917)
Schiava ribelle – (The Rebellious slave girl), (1883)
Plaster, 77 x 50 x 40 cm
Mart, Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Trento and Rovereto
Municipality of Trento

This work by Andrea Malfatti from 1883, Schiava ribelle (the Rebellious slave girl), is part of the Plaster cast Gallery that the sculptor from Trento gave to his City in 1912, in exchange for a life annuity.
In the approximately three hundred pieces that are part of this important collection now housed at the Mart, the subjects represented are mainly from the Romantic and Realist repertoire. In this sculpture, the Orientalist theme corresponds to the taste for exoticism that was fashionable at the time and conceals a patriotic message: the rebellious slave girl is, in fact, an allegory of the Trentino subjugated to Austria.
In the last decades of the 19th century, Malfatti was a successful artist who came to the fore at the International Exhibition in Paris in 1878. Educated at the Brera Academy in Milan, he was influenced by the neoclassical legacy of Canova and, at the same time, took part in the renewal in a realist sense that invested the Milanese milieu, for example in the choice of subjects interpreting the ideals of the Italian Risorgimento.
Back in Trento, he was entrusted with the restoration of the ancient Neptune fountain in Piazza Duomo and the sculpting of illustrious busts for the city’s cemetery. A passionate Irredentist, he was imprisoned in Innsbruck on charges of raising funds for Garibaldi and from this moment on, his patriotic convictions inspired some of his works, such as this female figure.

Luigi Bonazza (Arco, TN, 1877 – Trento, 1965)
La leggenda di Orfeo/ Rinascita d’Euridice/ Morte d’Orfeo – (The Legend of Orpheus/ Rebirth of Eurydice/ Death of Orpheus), 1905
Oil painting on canvas
Mart, Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Trento and Rovereto
SOSAT repository

This triptych is an early work by Luigi Bonazza, an artist from Trentino who trained in Vienna at the beginning of the 20th century in the height of the Secessionist climate. The painting is the result of a long elaboration based on an analysis of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice and inspired, in particular, by Ovid’s Metamorphoses and Virgil’s Georgics. The narrative punctuated by three episodes within an elaborate frame with ivory and brass inserts depicts the symbols of poetry and music.
In the central panel, we see Orpheus, supreme poet whose song appeases the beasts and soothes the forces of nature, while playing the lyre.
The canvas on the left depicts his descent into the underworld in an attempt to save Eurydice. After overcoming all obstacles, he obtains permission to take his beloved with him on one condition: never to look back at her until they have left Hades. However, Orpheus breaks his promise and Eurydice’s shadow is once again swallowed by the underworld.
The right-hand panel, finally, represents the dramatic epilogue of the story, when Orpheus is killed by the Bacchae for not having joined them, having sworn eternal love to Eurydice.
Various influences intertwine in Bonazza’s work: the form of the triptych echoes ancient art; the decorative elements are reminiscent of the preciousness of Gustav Klimt’s secessionist art, while the pointillist technique relates to the French Post-Impressionism.

Umberto Moggioli (Trento, 1886 – Rome, 1919)
Campagna a Treporti – (Countryside at Treporti), 1913
Oil painting on canvas, 105 x 136 cm
Mart, Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Trento and Rovereto
Autonomous Province of Trento – Superintendence for Cultural Heritage, Francesco Moggioli Heirs’ donation

Since his adolescence, Umberto Moggioli had shown an interest in landscape painting, producing panoramas en plein air of the hills surrounding the city of Trento. From 1904, he attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Venice and in those years, his production focused on lagoon subjects, depicted with great compositional freedom and rapid, dense brushstrokes. In his early twenties, he held his first solo exhibition at Ca’ Pesaro, a venue for exhibitions that made space to the experiments of young artists. Here he made his mark with a painting capable of rendering the atmospheric suggestions linked to the seasons and the changing hours of the day.
Until the outbreak of the First World War, Moggioli lived on the island of Burano, where he produced this and many other landscapes dedicated to the quietness of the countryside, in which the naturalism of his early works becomes richer with suggestions from Symbolist art. The sky, trees, fields and lagoon are the protagonists of these compositions, even when they include human figures such as this peasant woman bent over clods of earth.
During the war, the artist served as a cartographer but due to a serious illness, he was transferred to a convalescence home in Turin. Here Moggioli resumed painting, experimenting with a new style, influenced by the intense Roman light. In the evocative and pleasant atmosphere of the villa, Moggioli spent his last years: “My temperament is becoming clearer and clearer. Melancholy has gone. A cheerful, serene, optimistic art has emerged. I need but little: paints, canvas, a hole to live in, but above all good days”.
In 1919, he died, prematurely, of Spanish fever.

Medardo Rosso (Turin, 1858 – 1928)
Carne altrui – (Other People’s Flesh), 1883-1884
Wax, 41 x 36 x 15 cm
Mart, Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Trento and Rovereto
VAF-Stiftung Collection

Medardo Rosso is one of the major protagonists of modern sculpture, the forerunner of a new conception of plastic creation that would fully develop in the 20th century. During his long stay in Paris, he met the Impressionists and on his return to Italy, the Futurists appreciated him. His art is, in fact, among the various avant-gardes that asserted themselves between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century.
His research originated in the naturalist sphere: during his studies at the Brera Academy of Fine Arts, he approached the Milanese Scapigliatura, but when he moved to the French capital in 1889, the sculptor Auguste Rodin and the Impressionist painters influenced his work.
Akin to the Impressionist poetics lies his research on light, which Medardo also pursued with the help of photography, and the fugitive vision, that ”glimpse” that allows one to focus on a detail while leaving the rest blurred. Famous for his “unfinished” sculptures that seem to expand in space, seeking continuity with the surrounding atmosphere, the artist worked with different materials, preferring those that lent themselves to rapid modelling, such as terracotta and wax.
In open contrast to traditional culture, the artist sometimes depicted unseemly or scabrous themes. Carne Altrui (Other People’s Flesh) shows us the face of a grieving prostitute that apparently emerging from a mass of raw material, meant to be looked at from a single point of view. Medardo, in fact, tends to abandon the all-round and prefers to leave the back of the sculpture undefined.
The “only great modern sculptor” – as Boccioni defined him in the Manifesto of Futurist Sculpture – thus faces an unprecedented challenge: that of “making people forget matter”.

Umberto Boccioni (Reggio Calabria, 1882 – Sorte, VR, 1916)
Nudo di spalle (Controluce) – (Nude from behind-Backlit), 1909
Oil painting on canvas, 61 x 55,5 cm
Mart, Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Trento and Rovereto
L.F. Collection

An elderly woman portrayed half-length, seated on a chair so that her hip and right arm rest against the backrest, her face in profile and her back bare, is enveloped in a warm, intense light that illuminates her against the light with a multitude of colours. Umberto Boccioni paints these countless gleams with strands of pure colour, interwoven into each other according to the Divisionism technique learnt in the studio of his master Giacomo Balla and influenced by post-Impressionist painting, which he had been able to see in Paris shortly before.
The unusual choice of the subject, a nude in which the artist’s mother, Cecilia Forlani, is recognizable, is probably the result of a composite between her face, portrayed in other drawings and paintings, and the body of a model, perhaps reminiscent of a celebrated painting by Toulouse-Lautrec.
Umberto Boccioni died young, aged just 34 in 1916, during a military drill. His artistic parabola was rapid and intense and he became one of the protagonists of Futurism, embodying the experimentation and openness to the new that marked this vanguard movement.
The artist developed a personal pictorial conception based on a weaving of pure and complementary colours, on a composition crossed by dynamic lines and beams of light that in later production would tend to break up and interpenetrate forms. In this early work, still linked to a more naturalistic vision, one can already discern the basis of his research into the expression of energy, dynamic flows and moods.
Only a year later, he would be among the signatories of the Futurist Painting Manifesto, an expression of a radical turning point that the artist seems to herald with these words:
“I would like to erase all the values I knew, that I know and am losing sight of, to remake, to rebuild on a new basis! All the past, wonderfully great, oppresses me I want new!”

Carlo Carrà (Quargnento, AL, 1881 – Milan, 1966)
Composizione TA (Natura morta metafisica) – (Composition TA – Metaphysical Still Life), 1916 – 1918
Mart, Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Trento and Rovereto
VAF-Stiftung Collection

Already a protagonist of the Futurist avant-garde, from the second half of the 1910s Carlo Carrà turned his research towards the observation of 14th and early 15th century art, achieving a representation made of archaic suggestions with a simple, almost naïve touch. His study of the Old Masters led him to achieve a figurative synthesis that distinguished his search for a modern classicism. Carrà felt the need to abandon the themes of speed and dynamism, typical of Futurism, to approach a more reality-oriented research.
During the First World War, he was admitted to the military hospital in Ferrara, where he met Giorgio de Chirico, who, at that time shared the theoretical principles of Metaphysical painting with his brother Alberto and the young Ferrarese painter Filippo de Pisis.
Composizione TA (Composition TA) belongs to this moment in Carrà’s research. The artist had begun to paint the picture in 1916, in a style reminiscent of synthetic cubism, but the following year his meeting with de Chirico led him to adopt a poetics made of suspended and mysterious atmospheres. Little by little, over the course of his long elaboration, the work incorporates figurative elements typical of metaphysical language, such as the architectural foreshortening, the pole in the foreground and the dark shadows that cast unexpected geometries. The presence of letters and numbers takes on a different nuance here, compared to the use of typefaces in Futurist works or Cubist collages, emphasising the enigmatic nature of this composition, as if it were an unsolvable riddle.

Carlo Carrà (Quargnento, AL, 1881 – Milan, 1966)
Le figlie di Loth – (The Daughters of Loth), 1919
Oil painting on canvas, 111 x 80 cm
Mart, Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Trento and Rovereto
VAF-Stiftung Collection

Carlo Carrà’s work Le figlie di Loth (The Daughters of Loth) is fundamental in understanding the climate of Italian art between the end of the 1910s and the early 1920s, when some of the avant-garde protagonists felt the need to rethink their research and initiate a dialogue with the art of the past.
In this painting, we read the rediscovery of Giotto and Masaccio painting, who inspired Carrà with a new vocabulary of archaic and lyrical forms, suspended in a timeless atmosphere that distinguished trends such as Metaphysics and Magic Realism.
The painting depicts a biblical episode. Loth, his wife and their two daughters are the righteous ones fated to be saved from the destruction of Sodom. After the disappearance of his wife – who transgressed the divine order not to turn around and look at the burning city – Loth and his daughters took the path of exile. These women, concerned about ensuring an offspring for the family, decided to intoxicate their parent with wine and lie with him.
The artist departs decisively from the traditional representation of this subject, eliminating the patriarch and explicit references to the story from the scene. The two sisters appear hieratic and solemn, caught in the moment in which one presents the incestuous intention to the other.
This work consists of three planes: the first, marked by the geometry of the two female figures and the dog – a reference to the Giotto fresco, in the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua – characterized by the elongated and stylized forms of the 14th-century art. The second, defined by the perspective flight of the floor and the house, which also recalls settings of pre-Renaissance painting. Finally, the background plane, which contains various conical elements alluding to transcendence.
The severity, which reigns in this composition, highlights the order of a world that human debauchery cannot disrupt.

Arturo Martini (Treviso, 1889 – Milan, 1947)
Il poeta Cechov – (The Poet Chekhov), 1921-1922
Terracotta, 47,5 x 68 x 31 cm
MART 2349
Mart, Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Trento and Rovereto
Adriano Pallini Archive on deposit at the Mart

One of the most original innovators of the 20th century, Arturo Martini revolutionised the canons of sculpture. His works absorbed the lesson of ancient art, particularly Etruscan art, reworking it in an extraordinary variety of thematic and plastic solutions.
The comparison with antiquity is fundamental for artists who, between the two wars, felt the need to adopt a simpler, more balanced and comprehensible language, often with archaic features. In the 1920s, Martini began to take an interest in ceramic sculpture and to study Etruscan funerary portraits, which became an inescapable reference for him.
In this work, The Poet Chekhov, the pose, the stylised lines of the drapery of the shirt and the choice to cut the figure just below the shoulders are, in fact, reminiscent of the traditional reliquary busts and terracotta sarcophagus lids of ancient Etruscan civilisation.
Arturo Martini was born in Treviso in 1889. After leaving school, he worked as an apprentice in a goldsmith’s and then in a ceramics factory. He undertook numerous trips during which he encountered the international art scene. Immediately after World War I, having left behind the Symbolist and Expressionist influences of his early days, he devoted himself to a form of plastic purism.
His works of the 1920s belong to a moment of great creativity, in which the artist intertwined the influence of Etruscan and Greek sculpture with that of the masters of the 13th and 14th centuries, giving rise to a new language of simplified forms and calm tones.

Giorgio de Chirico (Volo, 1888 – Roma, 1978)
La matinée angoissante, 1912
Olio su tela, 81 x 65 cm,
Mart, Museo di arte moderna e contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto
Collezione VAF-Stiftung

“La parola metafisica, con la quale battezzai la mia pittura destò malintesi non trascurabili. La parola farebbe pensare che quelle cose che si trovano dopo le cose fisiche debbano costituire una specie di vuoto nirvanico. Pura imbecillità. Ciò che ho tentato in arte nessuno lo tentò prima di me: l’evocazione spettrale di quegli oggetti che l’imbecillità universale relega tra le inutilità”

Giorgio de Chirico dipinge i suoi primi quadri metafisici negli anni Dieci, ispirato dalla geometria delle piazze rinascimentali rilette in chiave onirica. La matinée angoissante è un paesaggio immobile, pervaso da un senso di attesa, dove la luce – vera protagonista del dipinto – illumina la facciata di un palazzo e proietta ombre misteriose in primo piano. Si tratta di una delle opere più importanti di de Chirico, dipinta a Parigi nel 1912, il periodo in cui l’artista dà vita a una tendenza d’avanguardia che rappresenta una meta-realtà, capace di rivelare presenze inquietanti e contenuti enigmatici proprio come fanno i sogni.
Il poeta Apollinare descrivere così questa pittura che vuole mostrare ciò che sta al di là dell’apparenza, cogliendo il mistero che si cela dietro le cose:
“Giorgio de Chirico esprime come nessuno ha mai fatto la melanconia patetica di una fine di bella giornata in qualche antica città italiana, dove in fondo a una piazza solitaria, oltre lo scenario delle logge, dei porticati e dei monumenti del passato, si muove sbuffando un treno (…)”.
Nel quadro, dove dell’uomo non c’è traccia, colpisce la fuga prospettica delle arcate sature d’ombra che corrono fino all’orizzonte nel biancore spettrale dell’edificio, la solitudine della piazza deserta, l’ombra della locomotiva ferma in primo piano che sottolinea l’immobilità del tempo.

Giorgio de Chirico (Volos, 1888 – Rome, 1978)
Autoritratto con la madre – (Self-Portrait with mother), 1922
Oil painting on canvas, 65,55 x 55,5
Mart, Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Trento and Rovereto
VAF-Stiftung Collection

Giorgio de Chirico was born in 1888 in Greece to parents of Italian origin and was educated in Athens where German culture dominated at the end of the 19th century. When his father died, he moved with his mother and younger brother to Munich, where he perfected his arts studies. In 1909, he moved to Italy, which he had already crossed after leaving Greece, and settled first in Milan and then in Florence. An international artist since his education, de Chirico would later move between Paris, New York, Rome and other Italian cities. His constant wandering is one of the main themes of his poetics and reflects that condition of uprooting that allows him to fuse different cultures: his Italian and Hellenic roots and the German culture of the late 19th century, with particular regard to Romanticism.
His mother Gemma Cervetto was a very prominent figure in the artist’s life. A woman of strong character – her children called her a “centauressa” (the Centaur) – she constantly accompanied Giorgio and Andrea – who would later change his surname to Savinio – during their formative years.
The artist portrayed her with him for the second time, in 1922: by then aged, white-haired, in an austere three-quarter pose that traces the iconography of 15th-century portraits. Behind her, the artist looks towards the observer, his head mirroring that of her mother. The setting also traces the ancient models that de Chirico had patiently copied in Italian and French museums, deepening his study of the technique he mentions in a 1919 essay entitled “Il ritorno al mestiere” (Returning to the craft). This painting is a perfect example of this process of re-appropriation of ancient pictorial expertise and identification with the role of Pictor classicus, so much so that the artist speaks of it as “something that could have been in the Louvre”.

Mario Sironi (Sassari, 1885 – Milan, 1961)
Il povero pescatore – (The Poor Fisherman), (1924-1925)
Oil painting on canvas, 101,5 x 76 cm
Mart, Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Trento and Rovereto
L.F. Collection

In the early 1920s, the journalist and art critic Margherita Sarfatti, in opposition to the avant-garde experience, brought together a group of artists who rediscovered the classical world and its values, under the name of the Italian Novecento, promoting an exhibition at the Pesaro gallery in Milan in 1923. The artists brought together for this first exhibition project were Anselmo Bucci, Leonardo Dudreville, Achille Funi, Luigi Malerba, Pietro Marussig, Ubaldo Oppi and Mario Sironi, but subsequent appointments would include an ever-increasing number of authors. Sarfatti made explicit the fundamental characteristics that bound the artists she selected: a return to the concrete, the simple, the definitive in painting, through: “limpidity in form and composure in conception”. The themes favoured by these artists were decidedly traditional: still life, maternity, portraiture and allegory cast in a dimension of domestic and reassuring everyday life.
Mario Sironi was one of the greatest interpreters of the Italian Novecento. In this painting we may observe some of the tenets of his painting: the earthy tones of colours, and the strong chiaroscuro contrasts, the robust plasticity of the silhouette concisely depicted with great emphasis on volumes, the compositional balance that lends solemnity to the scene and, last but not least, the theme of the dignity of work, dear to the artist.
After his initial adhesion to Futurism, Sironi matured his own personal style made up of dark colours and attention to constructive and compositional solidity that he would also develop in the field of mural painting. He had embraced the idea that the building decoration could be an effective tool for educating the masses, a means of spreading the values of the fascist regime.

Marino Marini (Pistoia, 1901 – Viareggio, LU, 1980)
Pugile – (Boxer), (1933)
Bronze, 82 x 50 x 64 cm
Mart, Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Trento and Rovereto
Autonomous Province of Trento – Superintendence for Cultural Heritage

Inspired by the archaic works linked to his Tuscan roots, Marino Marini joined the Italian Novecento group in the late 1920s. His works drew on Etruscan, Greek and Roman sculpture reworked in a modern key, in line with the ideas advocated by the group.
Pugile (Boxer) is part of the series of figures of athletes that Marini produced in the 1930s. The theme, which was very popular during the twenty-year Fascist period, refers to the Greek-Roman world, to which the regime wanted to reconnect. However, the artist stripped the subject of any rhetorical tone, and reinterpreted the lesson of the ancients, in particular that of Etruscan art, in an original way. From this personal dialogue with tradition comes the archaic fixity of the sculpture, accentuated by the essential cut of the figure reduced to the torso and part of the limbs, as if it were an archaeological fragment.
The artist himself emphasised his connection to ancient art and his desire to use it to develop a modern alternative language to that of the avant-garde:
“I look to the Etruscans for the same reason that all modern art has turned back and skipped the immediate past and gone on to invigorate itself in the most genuine expression of a virgin and remote humanity. The coincidence is not only cultural; but we strive for an elementary nature of art”.

Felice Casorati (Novara, 1883 – Turin, 1963)
Beethoven, 1928
Oil painting on canvas, 139 x 120 cm,
Mart, Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Trento and Rovereto
VAF-Stiftung Collection

A little girl dressed in white poses next to a music score bearing Beethoven, the title of the painting. The little girl is standing, motionless; behind her, a large mirror doubles her image, reflecting her surroundings but not the little dog on her left, which is actually a plaster sculpture in the painter’s studio. The static nature of the scene and the way in which the objects are represented give this painting by Felice Casorati a mysterious aura: the sculpture of the little dog, the guitar, the mirror, the enchantment of the reflected image belong to the poetics of Magic Realism, a tendency akin to the German New Objectivity. The contradiction inherent in the name coined by the critic Franz Roh in 1925 perfectly expresses the sense of this painting that accompanies the almost photographic image of reality with a sense of wonder and suspension, of melancholy and loneliness, as if produced by a spell.
In fact, the artist represents common objects by transfiguring them through the spell in the painting and the relationship established between the painted images and the gaze of those who contemplate them.
Casorati is one of the greatest Italian interpreters of this trend and reached the full maturity of his pictorial language with a sober and composed style, characterised by a synthesis inspired by the 15th century art of Piero della Francesca and Cézanne’s reduction of forms to geometric solids.
“I wish I knew how to proclaim the sweetness of fixing on canvas the enchanted and still souls, the motionless and mute things, the long gazes, the deep and clear thoughts, the life of joy and not of vertigo, the life of pain and not of breathlessness”.

Carlo Carrà (Quargnento, AL, 1881 – Milan, 1966)
Ciò che mi ha detto il tram – (What the tram told me), 1911
Oil painting on canvas, 53 x 67 cm
MART 968, VAF 0716
Mart, Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Trento and Rovereto
VAF-Stiftung Collection

Responding to Filippo Tommaso Marinetti’s appeal in his 1909 manifesto, Carlo Carrà signed the Technical Manifesto of Futurist Painters, which proclaimed, “There can be no painting without divisionism”.
The divided sign, with its trajectories and undulating flows, is functional to the rendering of dynamism: with pure, bright colours applied in small touches or frayed brushstrokes, the Futurists depict the hectic pace of modern life. Streets illuminated by electric light and teeming with crowds at rush hour are among their favourite themes, as opposed to the traditional and so-called “old-timer” ones. In What the tram told me, Carrà adopted the principles of multiplicity of viewpoints and space-time simultaneity, convinced that vision is “the synthesis of what one remembers and what one sees”. A vision, therefore, in which space and time merge and become relative, according to a new conception of reality in line with Einstein’s theories and the idea of inner duration expressed by the philosopher Henri Bergson.
Carrà participated in the Futurist movement from 1909 to 1915 and during this time experimented with the language of the avant-garde, painting pictures where figures dissolve in a chaos of shifting planes and interpenetrating forms.

Giacomo Balla (Turin, 1871 – Rome, 1958)
Linee forze di paesaggio + giardino – (Forces lines of landscape + garden), 1918
Tempera on canvas paper, 55 x 77,5 cm,
Mart, Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Trento and Rovereto
VAF-Stiftung Collection

The presence of mathematical signs in the title of this work by Giacomo Balla relates to the use of mathematical signs in writing, suggested by Marinetti in his manifesto Geometric and mechanical splendour and numerical sensitivity.
Linee forze di paesaggio + giardino (Forces Lines of Landscape + Garden) represents an interweaving of organic and artificial elements in a combination of light colours, which Balla declines in a variety of hues, replicating this painting in other versions.
Departing from the social Divisionism of Segantini and Pelizza da Volpedo, Balla joined Futurism and developed his own style, based on the study of movement, colour and the decomposition of light, gradually arriving at abstract geometric compositions.
The “Futurist Reconstruction of the Universe” Manifesto, co-authored with Depero in 1915, reads: “We will give skeleton and flesh to the invisible, to the impalpable, to the imponderable, to the imperceptible, we will find abstract equivalents of all the forms and elements of the universe, then we will combine them with each other according to the whims of or inspiration, to form plastic ensembles that we will set in motion”, and moreover: “(…) an abstract landscape of cones, pyramids, polyhedrons, spirals of mountains, rivers, lights, shadows”. Balla’s new form of landscape representation is therefore set within an ideal reconstruction of the universe and is guided by a kinetic, festive and colourful vision in which natural and mechanical elements intertwine.

Gino Severini (Cortona, AR, 1883 – Paris, 1966)
Ritratto di Madame M.S. – (Portrait of Madame M.S.), (1913-1915)
Pastel on cardboard on canvas, 92,5 x 65 cm
Mart, Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Trento and Rovereto
L.F. Collection

A Tuscan, born at the end of the 19th century, Gino Severini trained in Giacomo Balla’s studio and, in 1906, left for Paris where he immersed himself in the bustling artistic life of the French capital, at that time the cradle of the avant-garde.
His move to France did not prevent him from participating in Futurism and in 1910 he was among the signatories of the first Manifesto of Futurist Painters. The urban scene became the subject par excellence of many of his works, where the artist depicted the dynamism of life in the metropolis: a constantly changing scenario.
The Portrait of Madame M.S. belongs to a series of portraits dedicated to Madame Meyer-See, the wife of a well-known London art dealer, which Severini produced between 1913 and 1915. This work executed in pastel is one of the first examples of the application of Futurist theory to the portrait genre. Unlike the urban scenes of the boulevards flooded with crowds, here Severini reverses the terms of the problem: it is no longer the subject that is in motion, but rather the way it is observed, through a dynamic and simultaneous vision. In fact, the artist makes use of multiple points of view that break up and multiply the figure in a prismatic vision as in Cubist portraits, yet with a taste for bright and vivid colour typical of Futurist painting.
The intertwined strokes, heirs of Divisionism, make up the shifting fragments of the Mrs Meyer-See silhouette, whose blue dress and white frilly shirt, blond curls, large feathered hat and small dog she holds in her lap we recognise.

Tullio Crali (Igalo, 1910 – Milan, 2000)
Le forze della curva – (The Forces of the Curve), 1930
Oil on cardboard, 71×102,
Mart, Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Trento and Rovereto

The theme of dynamism was also at the centre of the Futurist artists’ research in the movement’s second season, between the 1920s and 1930s, so much so that some of them turning into daring aeroplane pilots. This was the birth of Aeropainting in 1929: a trend that, exploiting the new means of transport, introduced a new type of vision without centre and gravity, dynamic and capable of experimenting with vertiginous points of view, such as those adopted by Tullio Crali.
Passionate about speed and an aero painter, Crali translates the dynamism of modern mechanical means into an almost abstract dimension, furrowed by trajectories that indicate the directions of movement and are a lyrical transfiguration of the sensations linked to the dynamic experience. The automobile, like any means linked to movement, symbolises the fascination exerted by speed and the power of the machine. With the choice of the title, the artist shifts our attention from the object itself to the movement it produces in space: the abstract shapes that develop from the stylised nose of the running car indicate the lines of force that express its dynamic energy.
Tullio Crali lived and painted as a futurist all his life, “After so many years, I still and always find myself with futurism on me”. The fascination of movement, the love of speed, the passion for flight, the sense of space, the interest in modernity and man’s inventions, will always remain at the centre of his artistic research.

Fortunato Depero (Fondo, TN, 1892 – Rovereto, TN, 1960)
Movimento d’uccello – (Movement of a Bird), 1916
Oil, tempera and enamel on canvas, 100 x 135 cm
Mart, Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Trento and Rovereto
Depero Fund

Arriving in Rome in 1913, Fortunato Depero encountered the Futurists and experimented with new abstract-geometric shapes capable of representing states of mind, sounds and colours: a synesthetic conception of art that found form, in particular, in his lost Plastic-Dynamic Complexes.
In 1915, he and Giacomo Balla signed the Manifesto of the Futurist Reconstruction of the Universe, in which they spoke of a radical transformation involving all the arts, from furniture to fashion, from cinema to theatre, from music to dance, from advertising posters to the design of the utilitarian object. In the document, the two artists stated, “We will find the abstract equivalents of all forms and elements of the universe, and then we will combine them with each other according to the whims of our inspiration”.
This concept finds a perfect expression in the painting Movimento d’uccello (Movement of a Bird), where the anatomy of the bird constitutes the starting point for devising a fantastic reconstruction of its movement through stylised, almost abstract forms. A fan of segments and discs painted in bright colours form a sequence that recalls the wings of a large bird in flight.
With his flat colour painting style, Depero implemented a new plastic synthesis of forms, an interpenetration of surfaces with sharp contours. Instead of the fluid, shaded brushstrokes of early Futurism, he prefers a composition made up of shifting planes that take on an almost plastic solidity.

Manlio Rho (Como, 1901 – 1957)
Composizione – (Composition), 1936
Oil on board, 60 x 50 cm
Mart, Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Trento and Rovereto
VAF-Stiftung Collection

In the early 1930s, thanks to the activities of Galleria Il Milione, Milan turned into the centre of abstract art. Before then, in Italy, only a few Futurist researches had approached this new form of expression, through the progressive stylisation and synthesis of reality. Yet we have to wait for the geometric abstraction of artists such as Manlio Rho to observe the birth of a language completely independent of the forms of reality.
Born in Como, Rho was a painter and designer of printed fabrics, influenced by avant-garde graphics and the new rationalist architectural research that, like abstract painting, was focusing on the composition of essential and geometric shapes.
In the 1920s, he participated in the climate of lively cultural exchange with European abstraction, and together with the architects, Giuseppe Terragni and Alberto Sartoris and painter Mario Radice laid the foundations for the birth of the Como abstractionist group.
His first non-figurative works were created in the early 1930s showing a refined sense of colour and harmony of shape. Rho’s painting is characterised by a synthesis of rigorous geometry and limpid, flat colouring. The shapes thus outlined created a play of balances that revealed his attention to the concept of space, in tune with the idea of architecture developed by his fellow citizen Terragni.

Fausto Melotti (Rovereto, TN, 1901 – Milan, 1986)
Contrappunto domestico – (Domestic Contrappunto), 1973
Steel, 220 x 286 x 29 cm
Mart, Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Trento and Rovereto

The Milione artists also include Fausto Melotti, who exhibited his first abstract sculptures in the Milanese gallery.
Born in Rovereto, Melotti studied physics and mathematics at the University of Pisa before graduating in engineering at the Polytechnic of Milan in 1924. At the same time, he studied piano and, from 1928, attended the Brera Academy of Fine Arts, specialising in sculpture. During the 1930s, he joined the Abstraction-Création movement and began to create geometrically shaped works inspired by the languages of music and mathematics, very innovative works unfortunately not understood by the public and the critics. For this reason, he preferred to devote himself exclusively to ceramic art for a few years.
After World War II, Melotti returned to sculpture, using metal materials in a new way, as seen in Contrappunto domestico (Domestic Contrappunto). The work is characterised by a threadlike structure that draws a rhythmic scansion in space, similar to a score. The metal foils suspended within the orthogonal grid may recall the notes on a staff.
The artist empties sculpture of the traditional weight of matter, opting for slender forms that dialogue with the emptiness of space, often hanging from wires that allow them to sway slightly. The geometric shapes cut out of the metal sheets accentuate the luminosity of this sculpture and its delicate balance between order and instability.

Fausto Melotti (Rovereto, TN, 1901 – Milan, 1986)
Scultura n. 23 – (Sculpture n.23), 1935
Plaster, 90,5 x 90,5 x 8 cm
Mart, Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Trento and Rovereto
Autonomous Province of Trento – Superintendence for Cultural Heritag

“The artist must have a creed, but, I think, he must also betray it. Otherwise, imprisoned in his tabernacle, he sees himself consigned to an indifferent equilibrium, as if on a perfectly horizontal plane. The ball lives when it rolls down or is thrown up”.

Fausto Melotti was a sculptor, musician, painter and poet with a dual technical-scientific and artistic background, close to the abstractionist group of Galleria Il Milione and sensitive to the influences of rationalist architecture. The influence of music was constant in his work, inspiring him with the concept of harmonic composition through mathematical laws.
He even wrote in the introduction to the catalogue of his first solo exhibition in 1935 -“Art is an angelic, geometric state of mind. It addresses the intellect and not the senses. […] Not modelling matters but modulation. It is not a play on words: modelling comes from modulus = nature = disorder; modulation comes from modulus = canon = order”.
Sculpture n. 23 is a monochrome plaster relief sculpted in a rigorously geometric order, based precisely on this concept of modulation. Solids and voids chase each other like architectural modules with imperceptible variations created by light and shadow. An apparently silent white space, in reality made vibrant by the rhythm of the geometries that punctuate the orthogonal space of the square.