Search the Collections

Massimo Campigli
Nationality: 
italian
Gender: 
Male
Birth Date: 
1895
Birth Place: 
Berlin
Death Date: 
1971
Death Place: 
St. Tropez
He was born in Berlin, but spent most of his childhood in Florence. His family moved to Milan in 1909, and here he worked on the Letteratura magazine, frequenting avant-garde circles and making the acquaintance of Boccioni and Carrà. In 1914 the Futurist magazine Lacerba published his "Giornale + Strada – Parole in libertà" ("Journal + Road – Free speech"). During World War I Campigli was captured and deported to Hungary where he remained a prisoner of war from 1916–18. At the end of the war he moved to Paris where he worked as foreign correspondent for the Milanese daily newspaper Corriere della Sera. Although he had already produced some drawings during the war, it was only after he arrived in Paris that he started to paint. At the Café du Dôme he consorted with artists including Giorgio de Chirico, Alberto Savinio, Gino Severini and Filippo De Pisis. Extended visits to the Louvre deepened Campigli's interest in ancient Egyptian art, which became a lasting source of his own painting. His first figurative works applied geometrical designs to the human figure, reflecting the influence of Pablo Picasso and Fernand Léger as well as the Purism of "L’Esprit Nouveau". In 1923, he organised his first personal exhibition at the Bragaglia Gallery in Rome. As from 1926, he joined the "Paris Italians" together with Giorgio de Chirico, Filippo de Pisis, Renato Paresce, Savinio, Severini and Mario Tozzi. In 1928, year of his debut at the Venice Biennial, he was very much taken by the Etruscan collection when visiting the National Etruscan Museum in Rome. During a journey in Romania with his first wife Magdalena Rădulescu, he started a new cycle of works portraying women employed in domestic tasks and agricultural labour. These works were enthusiastically received by the critics at the exhibition held in the Jeanne Bucher gallery, Paris, in 1929 and at the Milione Gallery, Milan, in 1931. During the ‘thirties he held a series of solo exhibitions in New York, Paris and Milan which brought him international acclaim. In 1933 Campigli returned to Milan where he worked on projects of vast dimensions. In the same year he signed Mario Sironi’s Mural Art Manifesto and painted a fresco of mothers, country-women, working women, for the V Milan Triennial which unfortunately was later destroyed. In a personal exhibition at the Venice Biennial in 1948 he displayed his new compositions: female figures inserted in complicated architectonic structures. During the 60s his figures were reduced to coloured markings in a group of almost abstract canvasses. In 1967 a retrospective exhibition was dedicated to Campigli at the Palazzo Reale in Milan.