Massimo Campigli (Biographical details)

Massimo Campigli (printmaker; painter/draughtsman; journalist/critic; Italian; Male; 1895 - 1971)

Also known as

Campigli, Massimo


Born in Berlin as Max Ihlenfeld, his mother took him to Florence, when he was 2, before moving to Milan. In the 1920s, he changed his name to Massimo Campigli. At the age of 19, he published a poem in the Florentine Futurist journal, L’Acerba. After the First World War, in which he was captured and imprisoned in Hungary, before escaping to Russia, Campigli became a journalist with the Milan newspaper, Corriere Della Sera, The newspaper sent him to Paris in 1919, where he worked for it for 9 years, until he married a wealthy Romanian painter. There, Campigli initially began to paint in a style indebted to Picasso and Léger. In 1923, the Galleria Bragaglia in Rome gave him his first one - man show. By the mid 1920s, Campigli had started to paint doll- like figures in close to symmetrical compositions, which paralleled the work of the Purist art, which was promoted in the journal, Esprit Nouveau. Memories of the rigidity found in Russian icons may also have played a part in his development.
Campigli was a regular visitor to the Egyptian galleries in the Louvre, and, on a visit to Rome, he studied the Etruscan collections in the Villa Giulia, which offered him possibilities to explore compositions, which were not symmetrical. He also became interested in Roman wall painting. The works that Campigli exhibited in 1929 in his show at the Galerie Jeanne Bucher included wasp - waisted women akin to archaic statuettes. The isolated schematic figures, plaster-like colours, and contrasts between heavily worked areas and lightly sketched backgrounds, stressed his connections with the art of the antique world.
In 1930 the Parisian literary publisher, J. - O. Fourcade, commissioned Campigli to illustrate Virgil’s Georgics. Although this project never came to fruition, five prints resulted. The following year, Jeanne Bucher published Campigli’s first colour etching. He made two further etchings in 1932, and two drypoints in 1938. In the 1930s his work received considerable acclaim. Campigli had four exhibitions in New York, and he showed with the Novecento group in Italy. When he left Paris for Italy in 1933, he was a signatory to the Manifesto della pittura murale, and entered a highly successful period as a muralist. Campigli’s most notable public commissions were for Milan’s Palazzo di Giustizia, and for the University of Padua. His style and subject matter, women calmly going about their daily activities, remained remarkably consistent for the rest of his life.
Campigli’s career as a printmaker blossomed in the Second World War with the publication in 1942 by Editrice Hoepli of Il Milione di Marco Polo, for which he made 30 lithographs, which were printed for him by Piero Fornasetti. Two years later, 12 more lithographs illustrated Liriche di Saffo, a livre d’artiste printed in Milan by Stamperia del Cavallino, and published in Venice by the closely associated Edizioni del Cavallino. Almost contemporaneous was the publication in Milan by G.P. Giani of Verlaine’s Poèsie (Poèmes Saturniens - Sagesse) illustrated with 10 lithographs by Campigli printed in Milan by Fornasetti. Fornasetti was also the printer of the artist’s 11 lithographs for Raffaele Carrieri’s Lamento del Gabelliere, which was published in 1945 by Edizioni Tonelli in Milan. Like Daumier, Campigli provided models in watercolour for colour to be added by hand under his direction. His last major collaboration with Fornasetti was in 1948, when he executed lithographs for André Gide’s Theseus. The book was published by Giovanni Mardersteig’s Officina Bodoni the following year. In 1951, Campigli began working with the Zurich based print publisher, Nesto Jacometti, for whom he made over 30 lithographs. He produced two further significant livres d’artiste. The lithographs for Jean Paulhan’s Campigli La Ruche were printed in Venice by Edizioni del Cavallino, and published in Paris in 1952 by N.R.F. (Nouvelle Revue Français). Thirteen years later in 1965, Campigli made 11 etchings and aquatints for Italo Calvino’s Le Memorie di Casanova. The publication of this portfolio was delayed. Salamon e Tonini editori in Rome only issued it in 1981, a decade after Campigli’s death.


Francesco Meloni & Luigi Tavola, 'Campigli, catalogo ragionato dell'opera grafica 1930-1969', Livorno 1995