Fine Artists:  Gino Severini Futurist Artist 1883-1966

Gino Severini futurist painting "Ritratto di Madame M.S."Gino Severini was an Italian painter and a leading member of the Futurist movement. For much of his life he divided his time between Paris and Rome. Gino Severini was associated with Neo-Classicism and the "return to order" in the decade after the First World War. During his career Gino Severini worked in a variety of media, including mosaic and fresco. Gino Severini showed his work at major exhibitions, including the Rome Quadrennial, and won art prizes from major institutions. One of the principal exponents of Futurism, he was an important link between French and Italian art. Although his most historically significant works were produced before World War I, Gino Severini had a long career during which he continued to evolve his style, particularly in abstract schemes.

Gino Severini was born on April 7, 1883, in Cortona. Severini was born into a poor family in Cortona, Italy. His father was a junior court official and his mother a dressmaker. Gino Severini studied at the Scuola Tecnica in Cortona until the age of fifteen, when he was expelled from the entire Italian school system for the theft of exam papers. For a while Gino Severini worked with his father. Then in 1899 he moved to Rome with his mother. It was there that he first showed a serious interest in art, painting in his spare time while working as a shipping clerk. With the help of a patron of Cortonese origins Gino Severini attended art classes, enrolling in the free school for nude studies, an annex of the Rome Fine Art Institute, and a private academy. Gino Severini's formal art education ended after two years when his patron stopped his allowance, declaring, "I absolutely do not understand your lack of order".

In Rome in 1901 Gino Severini met Umberto Boccioni, and the following year he became acquainted with Giacomo Balla, who had studied in Paris. Severini and Boccioni became Balla's pupils. This was Gino Severini's introduction with the theories of divisionism, a style of painting with divided rather than mixed color and breaking the painted surface into a field of stippled dots and stripes. The ideas of Divisionism had a great influence on Severini's early work and on Futurist painting from 1910 to 1911. When Gino Severini arrived in Paris in 1906, it was Georges Seurat, above all, who impressed the artist. Severini soon came to know most of the Parisian avant-garde, including Georges Braque, Juan Gris, Amedeo Modigliani, and Pablo Picasso. Marinetti and Boccioni invited him to join the Futurist-movement.

Gino Severini painting "The Blue Dancer"On February 11, 1910 Severini signed the 'Manifesto of Futurist Painting' and thus became a co-founder of this style. In contrast to his artist colleagues, Severini was barely interested in the dynamic of machines, but in the depiction of human bodies in motion. His cabaret scenes and depictions of dancers were made during his period. Works like 'Blue Dancer' (shown here) show the typical Futurist principles of faceting and simultaneous effects. Severini exhibited works in 1912 at the Futurist exhibitions in Paris, London and Berlin and developed relationships between Italy and France. The artist's work became Cubist after 1915.

Gino Severini's pictures, painted in Seurat's clear colors, influenced the cubists to lighten their palette, and his personal contribution was to combine the futurist program with the analytical and geometrical spirit of cubism. After his last truly Futurist works—a series of paintings on war themes—Severini painted in a Synthetic Cubist mode, and by 1920 he was applying theories of classical balance based on the Golden Section to figurative subjects from the traditional commedia dell’arte. He divided his time between Paris and Rome after 1920.

In the 1920s Gino Severini was drawn more to murals than to easel painting, creating a series of harlequins and frescoes, based on the commedia dell'arte, at the Castle of Montefugoni near Florence. Severini also executed frescoes in Switzerland for churches at Semsales and La Roche. Gino Severini designed mosaics for the University of Fribourg, Switzerland and for the Palace of Art and the Palace of Justice in Milan. Severini's development from a cubist to a neoclassicist style occurred under the influence of Pablo Picasso and the Valori Plastici group. About 1930, however, Severini returned to a sort of decorative cubism.

Gino Severini's late work showed a tendency toward concrete art. In the 1950s,Gino Severini returned to the subjects of his Futurist years: dancers, light, and movement. Throughout his career, Severini published important theoretical essays and books on art. Severini died February 26, 1966, in Paris.
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Gino Severini
Italian painter who created "The Blue Dancer"  "Ritratto di Madame M.S."