this is the assumed name of Luigi Filippo
Tibertelli, born on May 11th 1896 in Ferrara and who later used the
ancient family name, de Pisis. He died in 1956 in Milan.
During his adolescence he wrote poetry and studied painting under
different masters, among whom Odoardo Domenichini. He loved to surround
himself with rare and curious objects and old books. He also had a
collection of butterflies and wild flowers which he donated to the Padua
University in 1915.
De Pisis was affected with nervous disorders and in 1915 he was
recovered in the psychiatric hospital in Venice. As a result he was
exempted from military service. He later lived and divided his time
between Ferrara and Bologna, studying literature and philosophy at the
universities of these towns from 1916 to 1919. He met Morandi, wrote
articles for “La Raccolta” of Giuseppe Raimondi and “La Brigata” of Dino
Binazzi. The Ferrara poet Corrado Govoni introduced him into the
futurist circle. In 1915 de Chirico and Savinio were transferred to
Ferrara for their military service.
Together with de Pisis and Carrà, who joined them in 1917, they formed
the nucleus of the metaphysical “school”. De Pisis wrote collections of
lyrical prose and poetry: “Canti della Croara” and “Emportio” in 1916,
“La città dalle 100 meraviglie “ (The town of the 100 wonders) in 1920,
influenced by the nostalgic and melancholy vision of the de Chirico
brothers. It was only in 1919 when he moved to Rome that he dedicated
himself to painting. He frequented the “Valori Plastici” (Plastic Values)
environment and became friendly with the painter Armando Spadini. During
this period he started to work on his still life paintings putting
together in a evocative form many different types of objects, held
together by a light and sensual craftsmanship, filled with the
“Stimmung” of metaphysical painting
The literary element, the theme of a book, fragments of poetry or visual
references to the works of artists that had preceded him remained a
central component in his work. De Pisis searched for secret aspects, the
dramatic forces in things, considering that the lyrical and intrinsic
value of a still life had the precedence over the pictorial or
The pleasure that de Pisis took from the quality of fine art (“la bonne
peinture”) was stimulated when he moved to Paris in 1925. He lived in
the French capital for fourteen years. His admiration for Eugène
Delacroix, Eduard Manet and Camille Corot, as well as for Henri Matisse
and the “Fauves” was reflected in a gestural use of colour and brilliant
coloured accents. Besides still life he painted urban scenes, male nudes
and hermaphroditic images.
His most important works during the ‘twenties were marine still life,
dream-like images of estranged objects set out on a beach in a
disquieting spatial relationship with the seascape background. It was de
Chirico who presented the first personal exhibition of de Pisis at the
Galerie au Sacre du Printemps in 1926. Two years later the French critic
Waldemar George wrote the first monograph about him.
De Pisis continued to exhibit in Italy and to write articles for
“L’Italia Letteraria”. “L’orto” and “La Revista di Ferrara”. He became
part of the “Italians in Paris” group that included de Chirico, Savinio,
Campigli, Mario Tozzi and Renato Paresce. For them, Waldemar George
presented the”Appels d’Italie” exhibition at the Venice Biennial in
In 1931 de Pisis painted a series of water colours to illustrate the
volume “Questa è Parigi” (This is Paris) written by Giovanni Comisso,
his very good friend. He also co-operated with his fellow countryman
Mario Caviglieri, who lived in the south-west of France. During the
‘thirties he visited England on three occasions, making friends with
Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant.
The Venetian influence
De Pisis returned to Milan at the outbreak of the second World War and
in 1944 he settled in Venice, where he was inspired by the paintings of
Francesco Guardi and other Venetian Masters of the XVIII century. As
during his stays in London, de Pisis always dedicated much care in
portraying the atmospheric environment, dissolving monuments in rare,
calligraphic brushstrokes and luminous graduations of tones.
The last years
In the last ten years of his life he suffered poor health, due to
nervous problems. His work obtained the merit it deserved especially at
the Venice Biennial exhibitions of 1948 and 1954.
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