It is not my habit to write introductions devoted to artists in my collection. I do not do it out of modesty. My judgement has only achieved the initial exchange of one value for another. As these paintings are intended for public perusal, it is for the public to comment, judge, enjoy or otherwise. I do not dictate my opinion as I have too much respect for the artist and the viewer of his work. However, before the works of Giorgio Matteo Aicardi, I have too much emotion and attraction and for that I will break my habit and share certain values. My encounter with the work of Aicardi happened in the mid-eighties, through his children. In this way I was able to come closer to the artist because he portrayed so often his family, thus contextualizing his works in the immediate home environment, pregnant with human and emotional conditions. I became quite friendly with his son Francesco and later with both Francesco’s sisters, Ada and Giovanna.
After the maestro’s death, I was fortunate to visit the studio accompanied by the children. All was intact and the family allowed me to place in the collection certain pieces that are now in the museum.
I immediately became fascinated by Aicardi for so strongly representing his time and his place. This modern rendering, common to other great artists of the “Novecento” - Galileo Chini and Duilio Cambellotti for example - expresses the universality of their artistry not being limited to painting, but embracing the decorative, applied and what was once called ‘minor arts’. These creators followed the German description Gesamtkunstwerk (total work of art). Aicardi was even a skilled restorer of ancient external and internal frescoes. His restoration works can be seen in many Genoese churches, villas and palaces, much admired by the foreign visitors.
The mother, referring to the Madonna, in a celestial blue dress and the children as if they had just finished innocently playing: Ada, holding an orange and a pink ribbon to tie back her blonde hair, the boy holding a fragile staff. From within, both children gazing left at another painting, obviously an element of fascination for them but also and for me, as I look within a frame and see another frame, we are all drawn in to the artist’s studio and watch as he creates his world. This celebrative and commemorative atmosphere is typical of much of the first post war Italian painting, a style that is defined as “stile Novecento”.
The theme of motherhood is emblematic of that period, beginning with Motherhood, 1916, of Gino Severini, later becoming, with the fascist ideology and propaganda, one of the leitmotifs in Mussolini’s campaigns for population growth and racial purity.
I immensely like the attention to the oriental carpet in the foreground and, above all, to the great Genoese mezzaro in the background that closes the pictorial surface. The hand printed cotton mezzaro shows Genoese traditional trading and cultural activities. It should be noted that mezzaro derives from the Arabic that means ‘to cover’, and indeed, these colourful fabrics were used by aristocratic women to cover their heads and shoulders. The habit then passed to the street, one needs only to recall Gerolamo Induno dominant portrayal of the mezzaro in ‘Garibaldi’s Thousand’ (1860) or the Half figure of a woman with mezzaro of Nicolò Barabino (1886).
The fashion remains and the mezzaro becomes used for bedspreads, curtains or covers, now no longer worn. Here Aicardi represents one of the cottons’ most popular motifs, the Tree of Life, full of branches, leaves and fruits. Nothing could fit better – either in material or spiritual terms - this scene of motherhood, family, harmony and affection. The Tree of Life, with all its mystery and wonder, continues for me, the viewer and the Aicardi family, as the symbol of renewal and rebirth.
Mitchell “Micky” Wolfson Jr. 2011
Miami - Genoa
GIORGIO MATTEO AICARDI (1891-1984) The Man, The Painter, The Artist
MIAMI - GENOA - LONDON
Copyright GIORGIO MATTEO AICARDI All Rights Reserved 2011