Renato Guttuso and the Italian 20th century


Renato Guttuso is identified as a leading exponent of neorealism with the characteristics of the influence of the French nineteenth century and the Cubism of Picasso; this stands him up to one of the greatest Italian painters of the twentieth century.

Guttuso was born in Begheria, Sicily, although his birthplace Palermo is reported as a choice of his parents. Born from an art family, where the father often liked to delight with watercolors. Already at the age of 13, Guttuso creates his first pictorial works of Sicilian landscapes and artists and, soon after, he takes part in his first collective exhibition.

After his studies he moved to Milan, then to Rome where he exhibited for the first time at the I Quadriennale. Here he meets artists of the anti-Novecentist tendency and gains the nickname of “unrestrained“.
It thus becomes the reference point of the Italian neorealism of the late twentieth century where his paintings and his works still recur social themes and the subjects of his native land, Sicily. On this basis he specializes in still life portraits and his focus becomes interiors containing baskets, fruit, cactuses, colored curtains, where warm colors dominate.

However, fame comes with large formats and religious inspiration. In fact, in La Crocifissione, the polemics were not few, by the clergy and fascism because the message of Guttuso was a denunciation to the horrors of the war.

In La Spiaggia, instead, with reference to the beach of Ostia, we find in the work the painter Pablo Picasso, known personally by the artist, who rubs on himself a green cloth almost like a bullfighter. The painting depicts tanned men and women, sending the message of collective well-being.

In the second half of the sixties where Guttuso knows his “blond cloud”, Marta Marzotto. The joys and sorrows of an important figure that fills her private life so much that she dedicates her the famous series of postcards Cartoline, a set of 37 drawings and mixed techniques. Marta Marzotto thus becomes, to all intents and purposes, her inspiring muse.

His masterpiece, however, coincides with “La Vucciria“: a bare and raw realism that tells the market of Palermo. Once again it is the strong sense of color and the reality that is so well described in detail to make this painting its most famous which, to date, is at Palazzo Chiaramonte-Steri, in the Rectorate of the University of Palermo.

Renato Guttuso died in Rome at the age of 75 and many of his works are collected in the Museo Guttuso at Villa Cattolica, where he was buried.

Written by Magister