- Also known as
primary name: Severini, Gino
- individual; painter/draughtsman; printmaker; Italian; Male
- Life dates
- Text from Martin Hopkinson, 'Italian Prints 1875-1975', BMP, 2007
Born in Cortona, Severini moved to Rome in 1899, where he attended evening classes in drawing at a school known as 'Gli incurabili'. In 1901 he met Boccioni, and together they visited the studio of Giacomo Balla, who had recently returned from Paris, and from whom they learnt the technique of Divisionism. Severini also began a prolonged study of light, eschewing chiaroscuro and tonal effects in his paintings. Disappointed by the provincial academicism that he encountered in Italy, he settled in Paris in 1906, where he quickly met Modigliani, Picasso, Gris, Braque, and the poet, Max Jacob. While still studying late nineteenth century theories on complementary colours and the work of Seurat, Severini began to break with his previous naturalistic style. Before leaving for Paris, Severini had learnt drypoint from the Florentine etcher, Raul Dal Molin Ferenzona (1879- 1946), and from the German, Otto Greiner (1869 -1916), who lived in Rome from 1898 to 1915. It is likely, too, from the outset that he was spurred on by the success in Paris of the drypoints of his friend, Anselmo Bucci. Severini's first prints, a group of eight drypoints and two etchings made in 1909, were naturalistic, and not dissimilar in mood from the work of Boccioni. He was to make no further prints until 1916.
Severini was much attracted to the theatrical world, and met many actors and playwrights. He became a friend of the French Symbolist poet and critic, Paul Fort, whose daughter he married in 1913. Boccioni persuaded him to sign the 'Manifesto dei pittori futuristi' published in 1910. The challenge of representing the dynamism of the contemporary world led to stylised paintings, in which Seurat's colour theories and fragmented forms derived from Léger's Cubism were combined. Severini only made two prints during this decade, both linocuts in 1916, the year in which he abandoned the Futurist decomposition of forms for a more rigorously constructive Cubist style.
In 1919, Severini signed a contract with Léonce Rosenberg, a dealer associated with the Cubists. By this date, he was working simultaneously in both figurative and abstract modes. Severini's 1921 book, 'Du cubisme au classicisme', announced his conversion to a geometrically based figuration. His pictures of the 1920s were in part inspired by Italian Renaissance painting. In 1921 Sir George Sitwell commissioned Severini to paint frescoes based on the 'Commedia dell'Arte' for his Tuscan castle at Montegufoni. He produced a lithograph for the Bauhaus 1922 -23 portfolio, 'Italienische und Russische Künstler', and made four further lithographs, including a portrait of Paul Fort, in 1928-29. However, Severini made no other prints until after the Second World War, apart from two linocuts for the Parisian journal. 'XXe Siècle', executed in 1939.
In 1923, the philosopher, Jacques Maritain, encouraged Severini to return to Catholicism. Over the next dozen years there followed a succession of commissions for murals and mosaics in Swiss churches. At the same time, Severini was closely associated with a group of his compatriots in Paris, led by the painter and critic, Mario Tozzi (1895 - 1979), including Campigli, De Chirico, De Pisis and Savinio, whom he presented at the 1932 Venice Biennale. He also exhibited with the Novecento Italiano when he spent a year in Rome in 1928-29, finally leaving France to settle in Italy in 1935, where he quickly picked up major commissions for mosaics and frescoes.
After the Second World War, Severini returned to Paris in 1946, where he worked in variations of his earlier Futurist, Cubist and figurative styles. It was during the last 10 years of his life that he made most of his 52 prints, mainly lithographs. In addition he also made a screenprint in 1955, two etchings in 1962, and a single aquatint in 1964.
- Francesco Meloni, 'GS tutta l'opera grafica', Prandi 1982