Ottone Rosai

1895-1957

Ottone Rosai was born in Florence in 1895. He enrolled at the Decorative Arts Institute of Santa Croce, where he studied decorative design, but he was expelled from the school in 1908. He made his debut as a painter in 1913, the same year in which he comes into contact with the works of Boccioni, Carrà and Soffici. In 1914 Rosai exhibited at the Futurist exhibition of Galleria Sprovieri in Rome, while he started working with the magazine “Lacerba”. He partecipates at the First World War as a volunteer. This strong experience and his political beliefs take him to join futurist fascists in 1919. From 1919 to 1922 Rosai prepares his own pictorial language, a result of different interests: Futurism, Purism, Metafisica with Carrà and Morandi, Quattrocento toscano. Rosai experimented a new painting of still lifes, landscapes and compositions with figures. His themes are places, things and people of an hidden Florence. In 1922 the death of his father forced him to a sudden change of life, because he had to take care of his family managing his father’s carpentry. In November 1920 he held his first solo exhibition in Florence (Palazzo Capponi). From 1926 to 1929 he starts the collaboration with the magazine “Il Selvaggio” by Mino Maccari; with the group of “Il Selvaggio” he exposes the following year in Florence. In 1928 he exhibited two works at the XVI Venice Biennale and in 1929 he took part in the Second Exhibition of Novecento Italiano. In 1930 Rosai had a personal exhibition at Galleria Il Milione in Milan. In 1932 he was invited to the Biennale with 12 works and in October he held a large exhibition at the Gallery of Palazzo Ferroni in Florence. In 1935 he is present at the II Rome Quadriennale with five paintings. His expositive activity is very intense all over the years. In 1939 he was appointed professor of draw figure at the Art School of Florence and in 1942 he was awarded of the chair of painting at the Academy of Florence. In 1957 at the Olivetti Cultural Center, Pier Carlo Santini organizes a large historical exhibition dedicated to the artist. He died in Ivrea in 1957.

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