Alberto Magnelli (1888-1971) Untitled Composition
Etching & Aquatint on Paper
19"x23" framed, 11"x15"unframed
Edition of 223. Edition lower left. Framed in a contemporary wood frame in a distressed warm silver finish with ridge detailing using white 8-ply archival matting behind conservation clear glass. Good vintage condition with some paper discoloration along left hand side and bottom of paper. From the estate of Edyth and Phillip Bassett.
Alberto Magnelli was born in 1888, in Florence, Italy. Self-taught, he was an admirer of Renaissance artists Andrea del Castagno, Paolo Uccello, and Piero della Francesca. He was particularly interested in fresco painting, whose influence is apparent in his experimental compositions in collage, painting, and drawing.
Early in his career, Magnelli traveled to Paris to visit fellow artists; in 1914 he bought works by Pablo Picasso, Juan Gris, Carlo Carrà, and Alexander Archipenko for his uncle, the collector Alessandro Magnelli. In this period, Magnelli’s work was primarily figurative, as in Man on a Cart (L’Homme à la charrette, 1914). The artist’s first abstract works appeared during the winter of 1914–15. He made a series of what he called “invented works,” characterized by bright areas of colors and elliptical patterns. After the war, Magnelli traveled to Germany, Switzerland, France, and Austria before eventually settling in Paris in 1930.
During World War II, the artist lived in Grasse, France, keeping company with artists Robert Delaunay and Jean Arp. Beginning in 1936, Magnelli created textural geometric collages, such as Cahiers d’Art (ca. 1937), using materials including corrugated cardboard, emery cloth, music paper, stitched wire, and metal plates as well as using schoolchildren’s wood-framed slate boards as a painting surface. Many of these works were luminous geometric compositions constructed from flat areas of color and inscribed white lines, while others were inscriptions of purely geometric lines. During this time, Magnelli also participated in the activities of the Abstraction–Création group with Vasily Kandinsky, Piet Mondrian, and Arp. He returned to Paris in 1944, and soon began making refined geometric works.
Magnelli’s first solo exhibition in the United States was at the Nierendorf Gallery, New York (1937), and he went on to have numerous exhibitions at venues including the Palais des beaux-arts, Brussels (1954); Kunsthaus Zürich and Palazzo Strozzi, Florence (1962); Musée d’art moderne de la Ville de Paris (1968); and Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (1989). Magnelli’s work was also included in several important group exhibitions, including L’arte concreta, Galeria Il Milione, Milan (1938); Venice Biennale (1910, 1950, 1960); So Paulo Biennale (1951, 1953, 1955); and Documenta, Kassel, Germany (1955, 1959). View The Legends of Modern Art Collection & Read the Bassett Family Story