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Osvaldo Licini

(1894—1958)


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Italian painter, born at Monte Vidon Corrado in the Marches, the son of a commercial artist. In 1908–13 he studied at the Academy in Bologna, where he was friendly with Morandi, and he spent most of the period 1917–26 in Paris. Up to 1931 he painted in a naturalistic style (portraits, landscapes, still-lifes), but then abandoned it for abstraction. His paintings of the 1930s, which put him in the forefront of modernism in Italy, are usually called Constructivist, but although they use geometric forms, they also have an individual poetic quality that sometimes brings them close to Klee or Miró in spirit: ‘Painting is the art of colours and signs’, Licini said; ‘signs express force, will and the idea, while colour expresses magic.’ After the Second World War Licini became the first Communist mayor of his home town and worked there in semi-seclusion. He turned from abstraction to a Surrealist-influenced style in which he expressed a personal mythology. A few months before his death he won the International Grand Prize for Painting at the 1958 Venice Biennale.

From A Dictionary of Modern and Contemporary Art in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Art.


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