Virgilio Guidi - grande volto

Virgilio Guidi - grande volto
Ink drawing - Hand signed

Virgilio Guidi.
Light felt-tip pen (gold) on Fabriano paper.
31 x 23.5 cm (sheet).
61 x 54 cm (with frame).
Signed by Guidi on bottom right.
Refined drawing made with light golden Indian ink on Fabriano cardboard, coming from an important collection in Venice, where the work has been kept for decades.
It includes an exquisite frame, as per photos.
The gallery authentication will be supplied to the buyer.

When he was young, Virgilio Guidi attended the courses of the technical high school in Rome. He was passionately fond of geometry and drawing. To cultivate his vocation, he also attended evening courses at the free school of painting. In 1908 he left the technical high school and went to practice painting in the workshop of the Roman restorer and decorator Giovanni Capranesi. At the end of the year he promoted him as his first helper. A few years later, in 1911, due to a disagreement on the trends of modern painting, he abandoned Capranesi’s studio and enrolled in the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome. As a self-taught artist, he studied Giotto, Piero della Francesca, Correggio and the French Chardin and Courbet. Always in this period he started to think (and write) about light as an essential feature of his paintings. In 1913 he participated and won the “Lana” painting competition, organised by the Academy, and in this period he began to exhibit his first works.

Virgilio Guidi, photographic portrait of Paolo Monti (Fondo Paolo Monti, BEIC).
On the occasion of the exhibition, held in 1914, of the “Società Amatori e Cultori di Belle Arti” in Rome, he came into direct contact with the works by Cézanne and Matisse; in particular, the study of Cézanne’s colour and shape helped him overcome the after-effects of his pan-Germanic training. While his thoughts ranged from Cézanne to the Italian 15-century tradition, he was not indifferent to the emphasis on colour by Renoir and Armando Spadini. In 1915 he participated in the III international art exhibition of “Secessione Romana”.

To accommodate the economic needs of his family, from 1916 he was forced to work for the Civil Engineers in Rome, and worked there for two years as a drawer. Between 1920 and 1923 he painted some of his most important paintings about figures. He exhibited some of them at the XIII Venice Biennale in 1922. He started to sell his paintings and to attend the “third room” of Caffè Aragno, where he came into contact with Giorgio De Chirico, Giuseppe Ungaretti, Roberto Longhi. In 1924 he achieved success at the XIV Venice Biennale with his “Tram”. The favourable opinion of critics gave him international recognition, so much so that the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg offered to buy the work, but Guidi preferred that it remained in Italy (now it’s displayed at Galleria d’Arte Moderna in Rome).

In 1926 he participated in the first exhibition of the Italian “Novecento” in Milan at the Palazzo della Permanente, and he also participated in the second one, in 1929, while being independent of that trend. The following year, in 1927, he married Adriana Bernardi, his fellow student at the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome, and also a sculptor; he was also called to teach painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Venice. Between 1928 and 1929 he participated in the XVI Venice Biennale and here he presented one of the texts that would remain a milestone of his Venetian period, “La Giudecca”, where the meridian light stops its image in an absolute spatiality.

He wrote his thoughts about his own pictorial research and published them in the catalogue of the first Rome Quadrennial. He published some notes and comments on painting. He held a first solo exhibition in Florence and exhibited his works at the XVIII Venice Biennale. In 1935, due to the hostility of the Venetian environment, he decided to move to Bologna, where he taught at the local Academy of Fine Arts, but he would keep his studio in it. He had a personal room at the II Rome Quadrennial, where he received a prize. The following year he exhibited at the XX Venice Biennale and held another solo exhibition in Milan, at the gallery Il Milione. 1937 is the year of his first monograph, which was published in New York and edited by the American journalist Nedda Arnova; he also published the “Bollettino d’Arte” in Bologna and elaborated a plastic syntheticism of light-shape-colour. In 1940 he was invited by the Academy to the XXII Venice Biennale, where an entire personal room was dedicated to him. He began to identify constant theoretical-compositional themes, such as the appearance of a female figure and “La Visita”.

In 1942 he started to write the first poetic lines, however they were only published in 1959. He also resumed his written considerations on art, light and space, and sent the work “Vista nello studio” to the XII Biennale. In 1946, interested in graphics, he started his activity publishing a series of lithographs. Between 1947 and 1950 he created “Marine” in a scheme of pure colour layers, and “Figure nello spazio”. He exhibited again at the 24th Venice Biennale and participated in Spatialism, fostered by Lucio Fontana. In 1949 he participated with some works in the exhibition “Twentieth-Century Italian Art”[1] with two paintings: a nude from 1945 and “Figure nello Spazio” from 1947.

In the three-year period 1952-1955 his pictorial research proceeded by recurring theme-compositional cycles: Figure nello spazio, Angoscia, Presenze, Teste, Marine. Like the many previous years, he had a personal room at the XXVII Venice Biennale. In 1959 he worked on “Architetture umane” and “Riflessioni del tempo”. Rebellato published the first volume collection of his lyric poems, “Spazi dell’Esistenza” in Padua. His pictorial research always proceeded by big theme-compositional cycles. In 1960 he began the cycle “Tumulti”. In 1961 he received a medal for culture from the President of the Italian Republic, and he began to paint the first “Architetture cosmiche”.

In 1962 the Municipality of Venice organised an anthological exhibition in the Napoleonic Wing, in Venice, for him. He developed the “Architetture cosmiche” and re-proposed the theme of the marinas. In 1963 he started working on new theme cycles: Prigioniera, Marine Astratte, Grandi Occhi, Cielo. As usual, in 1964, he had a personal room in the XXXII Venice Biennale. In 1965 he was awarded the prestigious “Tavola all’Amelia” prize by Dino Boscarato in Mestre[2]. In 1967 he still painted “Nuove figure”. Poliedro published his collection of poems “La Ragione di essere” in Rome. In the two-year period 1969-1970 he began the first cycle on the subject of the Tree. Influenced by the forests from the Marches, that he knew during his trip to Recanati, he started to paint the “Grandi Alberi”. Between 1974 and 1976, in the Gallery of Palazzo d’Accursio in Bologna, the works donated to the Galleria d’Arte Moderna were exhibited. An exhibition of one hundred works and ten unpublished poems was presented in Villa Simes, in Piazzola sul Brenta. In these years he painted new cycles of “Incontri”, “Figure Agitate” and “Figure inquiete”. Since the forties, an anthological exhibition of his paintings is housed in Villa Malpensata, Lugano.

Guidi’s poetic activity is by now a daily standard feature: in 1979 Bino Rebellato published “L’età improbabile” in Padua. With the painter Roberto Colombo he created a portfolio combining graphic works by Colombo with his poems: Shambariben. He celebrated his ninetieth birthday in Venice with a meeting of the Cini Foundation, on the island of San Giorgio. He donated two paintings to the Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb. He painted a new cycle, “Branco da Branco”. In 1983, at the age of ninety-two, he worked in Venice. He made a cycle of paintings on the theme “L’uomo e il cielo”.

On 7 January 1984 he died in Venice while an exhibition of his latest paintings was held at the gallery “Il Traghetto”, evidence of the artist’s extreme vitality and relevance.

He is buried in Venice, in the monumental cemetery of San Michele[3].


Lot details
Virgilio Guidi
Title of artwork
grande volto
Ink drawing
Hand signed
As new
Image size
31×24 cm
Sold with frame
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