Michele Cascella was born on September 7th 1892 in Ortona, Province of Chieti, and he died in Milan in 1989.

 


Formation
Like his brother Tommaso, he studied under his father Basilio, who was also born in Ortona and was an important painter, ceramist, lithographer and ladies’ tailor. Michele, right from primary school, was not a good pupil, and even in drawing gave poor results (yes, you may well smile!). His mother decided that an ecclesiastic career would be best for him, but his father wanted him, and made him, a painter, taking him in his chromolithographic laboratory and making him copy the drawings of Leonardo and Botticelli, or simplifications of large mouths and noses that he prepared specifically for him. Their father, for Michele and his brother Tommaso, was their guide in design and in comprehending the logic of art, comparable to a soft background music, or the comprehension of the demands of human beings, objects and natural phenomena.


 


First exhibition
In 1907 he exhibited for the first time at the Familglia Artistica in Milan, then in 1908 this was repeated at the Caffè Ligure in Turin and at the Druet Gallery, Paris, in 1909. His technique mainly consists in the use of pastels, thus approaching the style of the symbolist Michetti.

 



Around 1910 he began to frequent the cultural circles of Milan, where he became acquainted with his great friend, the poet Clemente Rebora, as well as the philosopher Antonio Banfi and the writer Sibilia Aleramo, who in her turn introduced him to Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Umberto Boccioni and Margherita Sarfatti.
 

 


Military works
He was a soldier during the first World War and his visual memories regarding military life have been portrayed in his pictures. Some of these works are at the Risorgimento Museum and the Historical Collections in Milan. At the end of the war he settled permanently in Milan and dedicated himself to engraving and ceramics, to later return to oil and water colour painting.



Venice Biennial exhibitions
In 1924 he exhibited for the first time at the Venice Biennial and in 1925 organised a personal exhibition at the Pesaro Gallery in Milan, which received good reviews from Carlo Carrà, who was a great supporter of the primitivism in Cascella’s paintings. His seascapes and urban views, his female portraits brought him success and invitations to all the Venice Biennial exhibitions without interruption from 1928 to 1942, and in this last year he was dedicated a personal showroom.

 



Cascella in Europe
During the ‘thirties Cascella used the water colour technique, and painted views of towns. These paintings were mainly exhibited in Europe, in London, Paris and Brussels until his works were moved to the Luxembourg Museum, the Jeu de Paume and the Victoria and Albert Museum.
 

 


Italian paintings
In 1933 he worked with the “Corriere della Sera”, invited by Andrea Borelli, sketching important Italian localities. In 1934 he spent some time in Libya and shortly afterwards received a commission from the princess of Piedmont for a set of paintings of southern Italian landscapes.


 

 

"Le due sorelle" 1913

"Giallo-verde" 1913

"Raccoglitrice di olive" 1911

"Inverno a Bocca di Valle" 1913

Campo di lino" 1923

"Rincontro" 1916

"Ave Maria a Guardiagrele" 1927

"Il Po a Piacenza" 1927

 

 

 

North and South America
After the second World war his exhibitions abroad considerably increased: Montevideo and Buenos Aires and many other towns in South America, during the ‘fifties and the ‘sixties he exhibited regularly in Paris at the Andrè Weil Gallery, the Allard gallery and the Marseille Gallery. In 1959 he was obliged to remain frequently in California where his pictures are hung at the Juarez Gallery in Los Angeles.
 

 


Subjects
In 1938 he worked on the drafts of the opera Margherita da Cortona which was performed at the Scala Opera House in Milan. His most frequent subjects in this period were flowers, still life, cornfields and poppies, landscapes of Abruzzo and Portofino. The techniques he mainly used were oil painting, water colours, pastels and lithography.

 



The most representative anthological exhibitions


1981: Palazzo Reale, Milan

1981/82: Palazzo del Diamante, Ferrara

1985: National Museum of Castel Sant’Angelo, Rome

1988: Mondatori published the first volume of the “Catalogue of paintings by Michele Cascella”

Acknowledgements received during his life
Michele Cascella, a very congenial and humane man, was a tenacious worker and received many acknowledgements, among which the satisfaction of winning the gold medal at the Paris Exposition Universelle in 1937.
 


What people say about him:

“He is a landscape artist with a personal touch, at times mystical and also humorous” says Costantini, a “crepuscolare” who loves the old ruined houses, convents, flowered meadows and peaceful corners that evoke memories. He has a preference for the evening shadows that he portrays with a special freshness.

 



Unlike much modern art that is enclosed in critical discourse, which is not exterior, but is an integrating part with no possibility to separate it and look at it as something in itself, the painting of Michele Cascella is there in the good and the bad, you can look at it as something in itself, with no spiritual conditioning or manipulation directed toward the initiated. His works last or will last over time for the beauty of their form, not for the notions they transmit.

 



Acknowledgements after his death
The town of Pescara in merit of the fame he brought to Abruzzo has dedicated a complete museum to the Cascella family which includes his father, Basilio, Andrea and Pietro, important sculptors, grandsons of Michele. Many museums contain the masterpieces of Michele Cascella and to mention just a few: the Modern Art Gallery, Brussels, the De Saisset Art Gallery Museum of the Santa Clara University, California, the National Modern Art Gallery, Turin and the National Modern Art Gallery, Rome.

 



To commemorate the first anniversary of his death, the Busto Arsizio museum dedicated an anthological exhibition with 100 works to this great artist Michele Cascella, which was later exhibited at the Casa d’Annunzio, Pescara. In 1992 for the centenary of his birth a wide collection of his works ranging from 1907 to 1946 was organised at the Palazzo della Permanente in Milan.


 

 

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