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Ritorni Da Modigliani a Morandi (Courtesy Museo Novecento)

text Francesca Lombardi

April 10, 2024

The exhibition Ritorni. Da Modigliani a Morandi at the Museo Novecento.

Nineteen works by great masters of the 20th century on view until September 15 to celebrate the museum's first ten years

“I shall paint your eyes when I know your soul.Modigliani portrayed flat, mask-like faces, distorted noses and pouting mouths. Figures in the artist’s works often have almond-shaped eyes without pupils. The only exception was Jeanne Hèbuterne. She was the first whose eyes he portrayed, and their lives were forever intertwined. Modigliani did not even paint his own eyes in his only existing self-portrait. His gaunt face depicted with simple and yet powerful strokes can be admired until 15 September at the Museo Novecento’s exhibition Ritorni. From Modigliani to Morandi. This leading exhibition, which celebrates the Museum’s 10th anniversary, relates the history of one of its most precious collections, the Alberto Della Ragione Collection.

Ritorni Da Modigliani a Morandi (Courtesy Museo Novecento)

Held in the rooms adjacent to those displaying the Permanent Collection, the exhibition sheds new light on Alberto Della Ragione’s refined choices by bringing together, alongside the works donated to Florence, some of the masterpieces that had passed through his collection before the important donation in 1970, a few years after the floods in Florence in 1966. Works by leading Italian artists of the 20th century are on display, loaned for the occasion by prestigious public and private collections both in Italy and abroad. Along with the metaphysical works of Giorgio Morandi and Carlo Carrà, and famous works by artists humanly and economically supported by Della Ragione, such as Renato Guttuso and Renato Birolli, the great protagonist of the exhibition will undoubtedly be Amedeo Modigliani’s famous Self Portrait. It is the only one in the world, a genuine icon concealing one of the most important and beloved figures of the 20th century.

Ritorni Da Modigliani a Morandi (Courtesy Museo Novecento)

An item of remarkable interest for the art market and collectors since the 1930s, counted among the most valuable modern works in the world and now in the possession of the Museu de Arte Contemporânea da USP in São Paulo, Brazil, Modigliani’s masterpiece comes to the Museo Novecento, in Florence, about eighty years after leaving the Della Ragione Collection. The painting, purchased by the engineer in 1938, was most likely resold around 1944. The sale provided Alberto Della Ragione with the means required to support younger and more experimental artists. Tracing the story sheds light on the collector and patron’s passionate participation in the personal and professional affairs of painters and sculptors close to him. Renato Guttuso deserves mention among them for his role of primary importance. His famous work Crucifixion, now at the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea in Rome, has been loaned for this event as a result of the special partnership with the museum. The Crucifixion was purchased by Alberto Della Ragione and returned by him, around 1959, to the artist himself, who described the collector by saying, “He knew how to give us what we needed: trust and friendship. He shared our passion. He burned with the same flame”.

Initially oriented towards renowned names in Italian art, Alberto Della Ragione later turned decisively towards younger artists who were often rejected by gallery owners as they were either considered excessively experimental, or neglected by official critics for political reasons. Alberto Della Ragione’s choices have resulted in an exceptional collection, which broadly represents the evolution of Italian art between the two wars.

Ritorni Da Modigliani a Morandi (Courtesy Museo Novecento)

Mon - Tue - Wed - Fri - Sat - Sun | 11:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Thursday | closed
Last admission one hour before closing

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