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Soul and shapes. Adolfo Wildt

Sara Mantovani February 17, 2012

Saint Lucy

Adolfo Wildt is probably one of the forgotten genius of the 20th century.
The San Domenico Museums in Forlì, until the 17th of June, are home to an exhibition dedicated to his works of art.The increasing interest shown by great collectors and his presence at important exhibitions held by the biggest museums in the world clearly indicate a rediscovery of Adolfo Wildt (Milan 1868–1931), who is finally and legitimately reconsidered one of the most important European sculptors in the 20th century.

Despite all the awards and fame he reached when alive – he was granted, without any contest but for his merits, the Chair of Sculpture at the prestigious Accademia di Brera in Milan, and was appointed Accademico d’Italia, thus entering the exclusive club of national glorious figures – critics’ appreciation remained controversial.

Alien to avant-gardes and non-conformist, able to merge classic and anti-classical art, Wildt is as unique as he is everything, with no place, in every moment.

The past is no longer the linear flow of passed events, but rather a new time, decadence and modernity at once, a huge land of crystallized meanings, Egypt and Greece, Gothic and Renaissance, coexisting and made available for use and open to the risk of interpretation.

His extraordinary technical expertise and eclecticism was criticized by conservatives who did not consider him in line with the time, due to his contents still affected by Symbolism and his formal choices characterized by gothic and expressionistic recalls, alien to the Mediterranean tradition and regime arts. He was also criticized by modernity supporters who challenged his accuracy of figures, monumental vocation, the ongoing dialogue with the great sculptors and painters of the past and his inclination for sculpture considered as the enhancement of technique and the traditionally privileged material – marble – that he was able to shape into extraordinary results, to reach the highest purification of image.

The said aspects affected his fame for a long time, but today they fascinate us and only a great exhibition can make the public enjoy them. Starting from an exceptional group of artworks preserved in Forlì thanks to the patronage of the family Paulucci di Calboli that dominated the history of the town and country, today it is possible to gather a number of extraordinary pieces of art which allow us to trace, in the most comprehensive way, the sculpture and graphical production of the artist.

The exhibition is not intended to be a monographic exhibition, but rather to link Wildt’s works with the ones of other artists, painters and sculptors of the past such as Phidias, Cosmè Tura, Antonello da Messina, Dürer, Pisanello, Bramante, Michelangelo, Bramantino, Bronzino, Bambaia, Cellini, Bernini, Canova, and modern Previati, Dudreville, Mazzucotelli, Rodin, Klimt, De Chirico, Morandi, Casorati, Martini, Messina, Fontana, Melotti – as this was the same idea underpinning the exhibition on Canova held a few years ago. An intense and original comparison is made, through different contexts and moments of his artistic life.

He preferred the topics of myth and mask, which allowed him to establish a dialogue with music and contemporary literature, from D’Annunzio, who collected his artworks, to Pirandello and Bontempelli.

Exceptional portraitist, he created an Olympus of troubling modern idols – worth mentioning are the extraordinary monumental busts of Mussolini, Victor Emmanuel III, Pius XI, Margherita Sarfatti, Toscanini.

Thanks to his teaching at the Accademia di Brera and his original idea of sculpture, his legacy can be found in the works of his privileged students Lucio Fontana (since1927) and Fausto Melotti (since 1928), who became the protagonists of a new way of interpreting shapes.

More info: servizi@civita.it

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