A FUTURIST LIFE
ESTORICK COLLECTION OF MODERN ART
15 JANUARY – 11 APRIL 2020
REVIEW by KATHLEEN BONDAR
Top left to right: The Eruption, 1977 (L’eruzione);Jonathan Monoplane, 1988 (Monoplano Jonathan); Assault of Motors, 1968 (Assalto di motori).
Bottom left to right: Acrobatic Sky, 1970 (Cielo in acrobazia);Tricolour Wings, 1932 (Ali tricolori); The Forces of the Bend, 1930 (Le forze della curva)
Tullio Crali (Italy 1910-2000) launched himself as a Futurist at the tender age of fifteen after reading in the papers about the avant-garde movement. During the early half of the twentieth century, mechanical technology was groundbreaking and this inspired the young artist. Like other Futurist in Italy prior to and during WWII, Crali was taken with the engine, particularly the aeroplane. His passion translated into dynamic and powerful paintings. In this latest exhibition, A Futurist Life, the Estorick hosts an exceptional collection of Crali's works for the first time in the UK.
Works such as Tricolour Wings (1932), The Forces of the Bend (1930) and Assault of Motors (1968) bring to life the energy of the engine as it races through air. The role of the aeroplane was central to military campaigns during WWII and the Futurists took to 'aeropainting'. Although he wished to disassociate himself from overt propaganda, Crali excelled in this art form favoured by Mussolini and the Fascists. He professed to having nothing to do with political dogma and, in his later works, he preferred to reflect on the poetry of movement. Nevertheless, his earlier paintings are charged with a masculine, military power which would have impressed any dictator.
Unsurprisingly, Crali's aeropainting dominates the exhibition despite an extensive display of his mixed media works which he produced when he moved to France. There he discovered the Brittany coast and worked on his Sassintesi: a fusion of the Italian words sassi (stones) and sintesi (synthesis). These abstract amalgamations of bits of wood and rock are underwhelming in comparison to the aeropainting, although they make more sense on reading that Crali wished for something more serene after the tortuous war years.
With over 60 rarely seen pieces from the family collection in the exhibition, it is clear to see why Crali came to be known as an aeropainter and also why the leader of Futurism, F.T. Marinetti, entrusted the future of the movement to Crali.
15 January – 11 April
Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art, 39a Canonbury Square, London N1 2AN
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