museum - Civic Museum of Palazzo della Penna Perugia Umbria


A developing collection

A proper setting for the works donated forty years before by the artist was deemed fundamental after the anthological exhibition in 1997 at the Rocca Paolina, wanted by the Perugia Municipality, a great success of public that had been waiting for long for a chance of admiring his works, but also strongly admired by the critics, with more than 1200 catalogues sold; the paintings were in fact, before that, hidden in a warehouse in the ground floor of Palazzo dei Priori. In 2004, twelve years ago, finally the opening of “Gerardo Dottori. Verso un’esposizione permanente”, supplementing the works already in possession of the Municipality with those owned by the Consiglio and the Giunta Regionale (Regional Council and Government of Umbria), of the Academy of Fine Arts, the Galleria Nazionale of Umbria and other public institutions.
In 2006 a new set-up of the Collection was organized, with the adding of works thanks to generous offerings of private donors for long time loans, others only for short time ones.
Today we have a further set up, in the rooms that before hosted the Martinelli Donation, today visible at the Galleria Nazionale of Umbria. An important space, not as big as before, that anyway allows, even if using a sharper synthesis, to present the Collection to the public. Being it, as stated in the preface, “developing”, we size the chance to repeat the appeal to get in a short time to its unification with other gatherings and collections of his works, owned by public or private owners, to be able of finally exposing at least seventy paintings comprehensive of all the different periods of the artist.
that these years have not been a time when the works could not be seen by the public, they were not wasted. It must be remembered that most of these works have been exposed with success in international events. Just to mention a few: in February 2014 in Italian Futurism, 1909-1944: recostructing the universe at the Guggenheim of New York where the Trittico della velocità dominated in the Sala da pranzo di Casa Cimin, admired by hundreds of thousands viewers, noted by the “New York Time” and in a tv reportage by RAI. The availability of the whole corpus of the masterpieces of the artist made the Museum Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art in London, the most important for Italian Art of the English Capital, to promote Gerardo Dottori The Futurist vie, an ample anthological exhibition of the artist that had a great success in terms of visitors and also of catalogues sold – for us unthinkable numbers – and of critics. This can be seen in numberless English newspapers, but also publications from Germany, Spain, and Italian as well. Other exhibitions in this fruitful 2014: in Rome, by the prestigious Galleria Russo, Gerardo Dottori. Brani di Futurismo del Maestro dell’Aeropittura and in Santa Maria degli Angeli Gerardo Dottori, Santo Francesco. And last but not least, the Gerardo Dottori: l’interpretazione futurista della città e del paesaggio, in San Gemini, by the end of September, beginning of October, with the works back from New York and London, on the occasion of the Giostra dell’Arme, remembering the last exhibition before the death of the painter, exhibition that called over seven thousand visitors in only two weeks.

The new set up

In order to render this set up “dynamic” it has been decided to reserve a little part of the exhibition, to show and “monitor”, to the discoveries and re-discoveries of works by Dottori, rotating their presence every two-three months. In this way we try to counteract the risk that the Dottori “museum” becomes “antifuturist”; these works, coming from all over Italy, but also from abroad, will often fill in the gaps of his career or clarify several aspects of the work of the artist; they will be presented by a proper communication and highlighted by special initiatives, as “focuses” for the public and experts together.
We start with two paintings. Tramonto lunare, never exhibited before, made by Dottori in 1930, here not only thanks to its quality, but also because up to very recently we didn’t know its whereabouts; it has been bought by the Minister for Cultural Activities some years ago - using the pre-emptive right at a court auction - later assigned at the Galleria Nazionale of Umbria. This fantasy night view is often seen in Dottori’s works and has been made with the technique of graffiti oil on wood, extremely refined and sharp to augment the luminous effects of the moonlight, of the stars and the reflections on the lake waters. Dottori used this technique with happy results in the “abstract-geometric” painting cycle of the Twenties, and in several other occasions, also in his mural paintings.

Armonie di cose belle is a rather famous painting made in 1934, of which all traces were lost after 1942. Published on the newspaper “Il Legionario” in 1937, it was exhibited in Paris, at the Exposition Universelle, where it obtained considerable success and won a Prise and in 1942 it was at the XXIII Biennale in Venice, in a personal room dedicated to the futurist from Perugia.
Since then all traces were lost of it and it is present in the General Raisonneé Catalogue of the artist works with only a reproduction in black and white with the notation “Unknown location”. The painting has been rediscovered recently in a private collection in Perugia, but significantly different from the original reproduced at the time. From a comparison it is clear the before it was bigger, even if the reductions made, bringing some pictorial rearrangements made by Dottori himself, have not reduced its aesthetic value. It belongs to the sportive depiction genre, often painted by the artist; in particular here some walkers described, but it insists also on the aeropainting synthesis of the landscape; at its centre also a female figure, alluding to beauty confronting nature. Noninvasive reflectoriaphic investigation has revealed, under the present pictorial film, in the top left corner the presence of airplanes and repentances in the lines depicting the landscape and the female figure. Another peculiarity is the technique of false fresco of the margins of the painting.

The rediscovery
An important innovation of this new set up is the space dedicated to Futurism in Umbria, a pictorial movement represented not only by Dottori. He was of course the promoter of it and its primal engine, since the very beginning of the years ‘10s of last Century, as seen elsewhere in this guide, when he moved to Rome in 1926. Even if not living in Perugia, he never left it for good, and came back often, also for long periods to work of mural painting and to organize “mostre sindacali”(exhibitions organized by the Artists’ Trade Union) or to foster relationships with old futurist artists - writers and journalists - and younger ones, mostly painters.

Around him, in 1913, we can see personalities like Presenzini Mattoli, writer and poet, Marri, later a dentist, but also Benvenuto Crispoldi, more a theorist than one pratcising Futurism; Enrico Cagianelli, a sculptor who ended using a more traditional language. But during the ‘30s the Group changes. Painters like Alessandro Bruschetti, briliant youth of talent who met Dottori in Rome where he was studying renovations techniques and converted to Futurism receiving the “baptism” from Marinetti himself, or Giuseppe Preziosi from Terni, or Vittorio Meschini, Perugian by adoption. For these last two the adherence to Futurism, thanks to Dottori, was a real conversion: they were in fact two painters active within the artists trade union, but oriented towards more traditional languages. And Leandra Angelucci Cominazzini, from Foligno, who worked by herself a personal declination of Futurism at the beginning of the ‘30s, first following Dottori real close, but afterwards interpreting painting in terms of surrealism and dreamlike visions. In this Umbrian group we have to consider also Alfredo Innocenzi, sculptor from Terni, even if his relationships with the others were discontinuous. To finish we can’t forget the role of Franca Maria Corneli from Perugia, young brilliant writer and poetess who graduated in the ‘30s with a thesis on the Futurism and was in close contact with Marinetti as well. Dottori didn’t leave his group in the outskirts of the artistic scene, as one of the “many places of Futirusm”, but he was able of giving them credits everywhere; Bruschetti, and after him Angelucci, Preziosi and Meschini took part to the Biennale in Venice, the Quadriennale in Rome and other collective exhibitions of Futurists both in Italia and Europe. With Presenzini Mattoli Dottori founded “Griffa!” and Franca Maria Corneli published her writings with the Edizioni Futuriste di Poesia of Marinetti.
Bruschetti has been adequately studied, some of his writings published and retrospective exhibitions organized; also on Angelucci something has been written and some of his works seen; the same for Preziosi. About Meschini on the other hand nothing has been made: he didn’t have any heir in Umbria and it is not known where his works have gone to. We can only refer to some rare reproductions of them and notes made in the ‘30s.
In this new set up of the Dottori Collection therefore, it has been deemed useful, necessary even, to dedicate at least a little room to the artists from Umbria for their tight connection with Dottori. Moreover, at least for what concerns Bruschetti, the two works here shown, are owned one by the Municpality – the notable aeropainting Colline e nubi - and the other by the Regione of Umbria, of the plurimetric period, donated by the family on the occasion of the anthological exhibition of 1987. The nieces of Preziosi have been asked for his works, and they’ve readily responded granting the loans; the same for the private collectors who have given their works by Angelucci and a rare drawing by Cagianelli, portraying Dottori.
It can’t be said it is a comprehensive overview of the Futurism in Umbria, but it is meant as a group of pictorial passages to give the idea of the ensamble undertaking of artists from Umbria around Dottori and Futurism.


Civic Museum of Palazzo della Penna
Via Podiani, 11 - Perugia (PG)
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Site: Civic Museum of Palazzo della Penna


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