Hailey Coral


Italian Expressionist / Post-Impressionism inspired Painter - Francesco Menzio

When in Italy in the summer of 2013, I saw many expressionist, impressionist, cubist, and futurist paintings throughout several modern art museums. Though all of these movements took place throughout the same two to three decades, they have differences that are sometimes hard to decipher unless you know some history on the particular movement, painting or artist. Through looking back on some of the photos I took while abroad, I found several paintings that were done in the early 1900's, yet they mimicked some post-impressionism qualities. A painting done by Francesco Menzio, titled "Ritratto in Bleu" (Portrait in Blue), was sitting among some surrealist, cubism, and futurism paintings. What I found most interesting about this painting in regards to it's time period, is how much transition it reflects. It undoubtably displays impressionist qualities such as the brush strokes, and use of color with the blue shadows, and minimal color mixing, and it gives a strong emphasis on mood rather than subject matter. The colors are very cold and bright, yet the facial features, body, hat, vase, and table are not exceptionally detailed. When the war ended in 1918, there was a "Return to Order" movement, which was a time after the war when surrealism and futurism was rejected, and returning to traditional styles was favored. However, many artists (and especially Menzio who was just getting started in his painting career post-war), were still transitioning between post-impression and fauvism where new uses of color and light were being explored, but the impressionist strokes were still embraced and the desire to put a certain respect and importance on artist expression was highly sought after.

Francesco Menzio was an Italian artist who's paintings were deeply influenced by both post-impressionism and the impressionist painters before him, after he came back to Turin from Paris in 1928. He was born in 1899 in Sardinia, an island off the west coast of Italy, from a Piedmontese family. He moved to Turin with his family at the age of 13. After the first world war (which he was in), he began his painting career. He visited Felics Casorati's gallery often, who was a prominently realist painter, but he lived in Paris for some time in his life as well, where he met and continued to be influenced by some Impressionist painters. Menzio changed from a more traditional style to a more expressive one when he, along with several other artists who had interest in french painting, formed the Gruppo di Sei (Group of Six) in 1928. These six artists felt that "intellectual freedom against the dictatorship" was of the utmost importance when it came to art, along with it being "a way to express critic and ethic autonomy." (MAG Como, Francesco Menzio Biography).




Ritratto in bleu. (Portrait in Blue.) 1929. Milan Museo del Novecento. Photo by Hailey Thomson

Ritratto in bleu. (Portrait in Blue.) 1929. Milan Museo del Novecento.  Photo By jean louis mazieres via http://saveflickr.com/