Italian Version

The Horsemen of the Apocalypse, 1908, oil on canvas, Art Institute of Chicago

Carrà Carlo: the painter was born on February 11th 1881 in Quargnento, and he died in 1966.

In the first three decades of the century the works of Carrà reflect fundamental artistic development, from futurism to metaphysical paintings, to the “20th century” and the mural paintings of the ‘thirties. When he was twelve he was apprenticed to the local decorator, and continued to earn a living as a plasterer and decorator even after he moved to Milan in 1895. In 1899-1900 he went to Paris to decorate the pavilions for the Exposition universelle, then lived for six months among the anarchists in exile in London studying the works of Karl Marx and Michail Bakunin.

From 1904-05 he followed a course of applied art at evening classes in Milan. In 1906 he enrolled at the Brera Academy, where he studied under Cesare Tallone, with Arnoldo Bonzagni and Romolo Romani. In 1908, while working on the preparation of the Artistic Family Exhibitions, he became acquainted with Boccioni and Russolo. Together with Severini and Balla they signed the Martinetti Futurist Painters Manifesto. The same year Carrà started to work on the “Funeral of the anarchist Galli” (Funerali dell’anarchico Galli). It was the pointillist technique of Giuseppe Pellizza da Volpedo that inspired him to deal with this political theme.

Following a journey to Paris in 1911, Carrà restyled the canvas to assimilate the fragmentation typical of cubism. The final version was shown in February 1912 at Galerie Bernheim-Jeune futurist exhibition.

The first World War
Due to the growing rivalry with Boccioni and the differences of opinion with Marinetti, Carrà separated from the Milan group and started to work with Ardegno Soffici and Giovanni Papini on the “Lacerba” futurist magazine in Florence from 1913-15. In 1914 he returned to Paris to conclude a contract with the art gallery manager Daniel Henry Kahnweiler when the first world war broke out. In 1915 he supported the interventionist movement with War-painting, a volume of free speech that was intended as a reply to Boccioni’s Futurist painting-sculpture of 1914.

Plastic solidity
During the war years Carrà developed a style that was consciously naive or “graceless”, inspired by the plastic solidity of the Tuscan trecentists and by Henri Rousseau. He declared his ideas regarding artistic tactile values in his writings “Speaking of Giotto” (Parlata su Giotto) and “Paolo Uccello, constructor “ (Paolo Uccello costruttore) published by “La voce” in 1916.


Leaving the Theatre, 1909, oil on canvas, private collection, London Carlo Carrà, "Pettinarsi" 1939 Carlo Carrà "Nuotatori" 1932 Carlo Carrà "Donna al balcone" 1912 Carlo Carrà "Le figlie di Lot" 1940 Carlo Carrà "Partita di Calcio" olio su tela di Carlo Carra' dipinto nel 1934


Metaphysical painting
Called up for military service in Ferrara in 1917, he became acquainted with de Chirico and Savino, founding with them the “school” of metaphysical painting. Internal decor painted by Carrà from 1917 to 1919 portrays the disquieting iconography which is typical of the metaphysical, but the atmosphere of his images is very different to the widespread irony and nihilism of de Chirico.

Pictorial values
Carrà made every effort to render solidity to the emphatic three-dimensionality of the objects, re-affirming his faith in an order below. In articles such as the renewal of Italian painting, published by the Roman magazine “Valori plastici” he advocated a return to the Italian traditional pictorial values . In 1921 he became an art critic for the daily newspaper “L’Ambrosiano”, an influential position which he held for seventeen years.

The stylistic uncertainty of Carrà was only solved in 1921 with “The pine-tree by the sea” ( Il pino sul mare). Wilhelm Worringer dedicated an important essay to the painting in the Zurich magazine “Wissen und Leben” in 1925, sustaining that Carrà had reached a new and harmonious equilibrium between the artist and the subject. The painting was part of a series of works that reflected the “magic realism” atmosphere of the “twentieth century”, and Carrà took part at these exhibitions. As from 1926 he started to spend the summer at Forte dei Marmi on the Tuscany coast where he painted seascapes with evocative brush strokes and uniform planes inspired by the return to the Lombardy naturalists of the nineteenth century.

A new style
This style remained characteristic of his painting for the rest of his life, together with the principle according to which figurative forms and colours are subordinated to an underlying architectonic order. In 1933 Carrà signed the mural painting manifesto of Sironi and painted frescoes (which were later destroyed) for the Milan Triennial exhibition of 1933, and for the Law Courts in 1938.

In 1941 he was nominated painting professor for the Brera Academy. In the after-war years Carrà gradually changed the landscapes and seascapes of Forte dei Marmi toning down the surfaces, with less compact brushwork and an accentuated brightness. In 1962, four years before his death an anthological exhibition of his works was arranged at the Palazzo Reale in Milan.


Carlo Carrà "L'attesa" 1923 Carlo Carrà "Ritratto di Marinetti" Carlo Carrà "The artist" Carlo Carrà "Armtrain" Carlo Carrà "Verso casa" 1939 Carlo Carrà "Pino sul mare" 1921



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