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Mario Sironi

(1885—1961)


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Italian painter, sculptor, designer, caricaturist, and writer, born in Sassari, Sardinia. The year after his birth his family moved to Rome. In 1902 he began studying engineering (his father's profession), but he abandoned it for painting in 1903. At life classes at the Academy in Rome he became friendly with Balla, Boccioni (with whom he shared a flat in Paris in 1908), and Severini, and in 1914 he moved to Milan and joined the Futurists. However, his association with the movement was for ideological rather than stylistic reasons: his paintings of the period were often concerned with modern urban life, but they are solid rather than dynamic in feeling. After the First World War, in which he served at the front, Sironi returned to Milan and was briefly influenced by Metaphysical Painting. In 1922, the year in which Mussolini gained power, he joined the Fascist Party and was a founder of Novecento. Until the fall of Mussolini in 1943 he was the leading caricaturist for the Fascist press, to which he also contributed much writing, including art criticism. He came to regard easel painting as a bourgeois anachronism and in the 1930s devoted much of his energies to propaganda work and didactic murals, including Italy between the Arts and Sciences (1935) for the University of Rome and Law between Justice and Strength (1936) for the Palace of Justice, Milan. His style in these murals was anti-naturalistic, based on such sources as Roman and Byzantine mosaics and Romanesque sculpture. It was denounced in some quarters as degenerate and prompted a heated debate in the press on the appropriate style for Fascist art. After the fall of Mussolini, Sironi returned to easel painting. His work also included sculpture and design for opera. A retrospective exhibition of his work was staged at the Venice Biennale the year after his death.

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

Subjects: Art.


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