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Alfredo Volpi

Lucca-São Paulo (1896-1988)


March 16—June 09, 2024

Curated by Cristiano Raimondi



Alfredo Volpi 
Lucca-São Paulo, 1896-1988



Curated by Cristiano Raimondi



From March 16 to June 9, 2024


Opening: Friday 15 March 2024 | h 6-9 pm



Centro per l'Arte Contemporanea Luigi Pecci is proud to present the very first retrospective of Alfredo Volpi in Italy. The exhibition retraces the long-lasting and prolific production of the Brazilian modern painter, born in Lucca in 1896, presenting a vast selection of his pictorial repertoire together with a series of documents that attest to his artistic career and the central role he played in 20th-century Brazilian art.


Alfredo Volpi (1896-1988) emigrated with his family from Tuscany to São Paulo in 1898. During the same period, between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, almost 3 million Italian immigrants arrived in Brazil. In the 1910s, Volpi began working as a decorative painter for private commissions, an occupation he proudly maintained until the mid-1930s. At the same time, he began painting his first oil canvases as a self-taught artist, an activity that he continued until the end of his career in the mid-1980s. His first en plein-air paintings already show a close observation of daily life in the suburbs of São Paulo, a continuous source of inspiration for their popular culture, natural landscapes and urban views. Despite the great success he attained over the last three decades of his life, the story of Volpi is one of a simple, reserved man devoted entirely to his work.


From the 1940s onwards, he began to experiment with the tempera technique, increasingly making the movement of the brushstroke a visible and constitutive element of the painting. His treatment of the flat surface became more structured: the volumes flattened out, and the color, spread in thin transparent layers, took on an absolute value. Despite his self-taught training, Volpi revealed that he had absorbed the lesson of 20th-century Italian and international research: his references included Carlo Carrà, Giorgio Morandi, Henri Matisse, and Paul Cèzanne. In 1950, during a trip to Italy, Volpi discovered the works of Margaritone d'Arezzo, Giotto, and Paolo Uccello, which would inspire him with suspended and crystalline spatial solutions, as if devoid of gravity. Particularly during his 'concrete' phase in the late 1950s, Volpi transformed his typical urban views into geometric syntax, developing throughout the 1960s and 1970s a unique synthesis of tradition, modernity, and popular motifs. His famous flags, the festive banners of the working-class neighborhoods of São Paulo, thus became a pure geometric motif that allowed Volpi to create infinite chromatic and compositional variations on the same subject.


The exhibition Alfredo Volpi: Lucca-São Paulo (1896-1988) presents for the first time in Italy more than 70 works that show the highlights of the artist's career, from the first tempera paintings of the 1940s to the best-known works of the 1970s. Throughout his life, Volpi presented his paintings in Italy several times: in 1963, the Brazilian Embassy in Rome hosted a solo exhibition of his work, followed the next year by his inclusion in the Venice Biennale. Alfredo Volpi: Lucca-São Paulo (1896-1988) is the first retrospective dedicated by an Italian institution to one of the protagonists of Brazilian and international art of the last century. The exhibition, curated by Cristiano Raimondi with the assistance of Daniel Donato Ribeiro, takes place on the 150th anniversary of the beginning of Italian immigration to Brazil, in the same region where Alfredo Volpi was born and forced to leave.



Cover:  Installation view, Alfredo Volpi. Courtesy Centro Pecci Prato ©photoElaBialkowskaOKNOstudio





Centro per l'arte contemporanea Luigi Pecci

Viale della Repubblica, 277, 59100 Prato PO, Italia




see also
March 15, 2024 6:00 PM—9:00 PM
Opening! Alfredo Volpi
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May 16, 2024 7:00 PM
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Visita guidata + gift + drink

March 16, 2024—February 02, 2025
Programma espositivo 2024