Ardengo Soffici

Ardengo Soffici

Ardengo Soffici (April 7 1879 – August 12 1964), was an Italian writer, painter and Fascist intellectual.

Life

Soffici was born in Rignano sull'Arno, near Florence. In 1893 his family moved to the latter city, where he studied at the Accademia from 1897 and later at the Scuola Libera del Nudo.

In 1900 he moved from Florence to Paris, where he lived for seven years, working for Symbolist journals. While in Paris he became acquainted with Braque, Derain, Picasso, Gris and Apollinaire.

On returning to Florence in 1907 (where he lived for the rest of his life) Soffici wrote articles on modern artists for the first issue of the political and cultural magazine "La Voce".

In 1910 he organised an exhibition of Impressionist painting in Florence in association with "La Voce", devoting an entire room to the sculptor Medardo Rosso.

In August 1911 he wrote an article in "La Voce" on Picasso and Braque, which probably influenced the Futurists in the direction of Cubism. [Martin, Marianne W. "Futurist Art and Theory", Hacker Art Books, New York, 1978, p.104] At this time Soffici considered Cubism to be an extension of the partial revolution of the Impressionists. In 1912-1913 Soffici painted in a Cubist style.

After visiting the Futurist's Exhibition of Free Art in Milan, he wrote a hostile review in "La Voce". The leading Futurists Marinetti, Boccioni and Carrà, were so incensed by this that they immediately boarded a train for Florence and assaulted Soffici and his "La Voce" colleagues at the Caffè Giubbe Rosse. [Martin, p.81] Reviewing the Futurists' Paris exhibition of 1912 in his article "Ancora del Futurismo" (Futurism Again) he dismissed their rhetoric, publicity-seeking and their art, but granted that, despite its faults, Futurism was "a movement of renewal, and that is excellent".

Gino Severini was despatched from Milan to Florence to make peace with Soffici on behalf of the Futurists – the Peace of Florence, as Boccioni called it. After these diplomatic overtures, Soffici, together with Giovanni Papini, Aldo Palazzeschi and Italo Tavolato withdrew from "La Voce" in 1913 to form a new periodical, "Lacerba", which would concentrate entirely on art and culture. Soffici published "Theory of the movement of plastic Futurism" in "Lacerba", accepting that Futurism had reconciled what had previously seemed irreconcilable, Impressionism and Cubism. By its fifth issue "Lacerba" wholly supported the Futurists. Soffici's paintings in 1913 – e.g. "Linee di una strada" and "Sintesi di una pesaggio autumnale" – showed the influence of the Futurists in method and title and he exhibited with them.

In 1914, personal quarrels and artistic differences between the Milan Futurists and the Florence group around Soffici, Papini and Carlo Carrà, created a rift in Italian Futurism. The Florence group resented the dominance of Marinetti and Boccioni, whom they accused of trying to establish "an immobile church with an infallible creed", and each group dismissed the other as "passéiste". After serving in the First World War, Soffici abandoned Futurism and, discovering a new reverence for Tuscan tradition, became associated with the "return to order" which manifested itself in the naturalistic landscapes which threafter dominated his work.

Soffici was one of the signatories of Gentile's 1925 Fascist manifesto. He regarded the United States of America as "false", "transitory" and "ephemeral". It was a "non-civilisation" where the spirituality of art was suffocated by the barbaric vulgarity of a people without history and without tradition, and incapable, therefore, of creating a true civilization. To Soffici and other moralists of Italian Fascism, US civilisation represented "impending modernity", that is to say, a violent negation of the Italian genius; it was necessary to wage a holy war against the American monster to save Italian civilization. [Gentile, Emilio, "Impending Modernity: Fascism and the Ambivalent Image of the United States", "Journal of Contemporary History", 28:1, January 1993, p.12]

He died at the Italian holiday resort of Forte dei Marmi.

Bibliography

Poems

*"Bif& ZF + 18 = Simultaneità - Chimismi lirici "(1915)
*"Elegia dell'Ambra" (1927)
*"Marsia e Apollo "(1938)
*"Thréne pour Guillame Apollinaire" (1927)

Novels

*"Ignoto toscano" (1909)
*"Lemmonio Boreo" (1912)
*"Arlecchino" (1914)
*"Giornale di bordo" (1915)
*"" (1918)
*"La giostra dei sensi" (1918)
*"La ritirata del Friuli" (1919)
*"Rete mediterranea" (1920)
*"Battaglia fra due vittorie" (1923)
*"Ricordi di vita artistica e letteraria" (1931)
*"Taccuino di Arno Borghi" (1933)
*"Ritratto delle cose di Francia" (1934)
*"L'adunata" (1936)
*"Itinerario inglese" (1948)
*"Autoritratto d'artista italiano nel quadro del suo tempo"
**"L'uva e la croce" (1951)
**"Passi tra le rovine" (1952)
*"Il salto vitale" (1954)
*"Fine di un mondo" (1955)
*"D'ogni erba un fascio" (1958)
*"Diari 1939-1945" (1962, with G. Prezzoloni)

Essays

*"Il caso Rosso e l'impressionismo" (1909)
*"Arthur Rimbaud" (1911)
*"Cubismo e oltre" (1913)
*"Cubismo e futurismo" (1914)
*"Serra e Croce" (1915)
*"Cubismo e futurismo" (1919)
*"Scoperte e massacri" (1919)
*"Primi principi di un'estetica futurista" (1920)
*"Giovanni Fattori" (1921)
*"Armando Spadini" (1925)
*"Carlo Carrà" (1928)
*"Periplo dell'arte" (1928)
*"Medardo Rosso: 1858-1928" (1929)
*"Ugo Bernasconi" (1934)
*"Apollinaire" (1937)
*"Salti nel tempo" (1938)
*"Selva: arte" (1938)
*"Trenta artisti moderni italiani e stranieri" (1950)

References

* [http://www.estorickcollection.com/permanent/Ardengo_Soffici.php Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art]
*cite book|last= Raimondi|coauthors=Luigi Cavallo|first=Giuseppe|title=Ardengo Soffici|publisher=Vallecchi|location=Florence|year= 1967


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