ARTIST INDEX: Lorenzo Viani
Article written by Sofia Cangiano
Lorenzo Viani (1882-1936) was an Italian painter and writer and the primary exponent of European expressionism. He was born in Viareggio where he spent most of his life. He studied under Plinio Nomellini and spent brief periods in Paris between 1908 and 1909 where he sojourns in the artist residence "La Ruche" at the same time as Amedeo Modigliani and Ardengo Soffici. The town of Viareggio and especially its harbour, or darsena, was an inspiration for his works. This was where he witnessed the daily spectacle of misery, including that of his own family. He translates his observations of Viareggio's poverty into intense chromatic paintings with quick and decisive brush strokes resulting in a very expressive and melancholy style. Central to his works are the themes of hunger, imprisonment, disease, solitude, war, pain, and insanity. In the 1910s he creates works on a massive scale such as the above shown "La Benedizione dei morti del mare". After the First World War, his painting activity is accompanied by many literary works. In the 1930s, already an established artist, he is commissioned for two great works for Viareggio's train station and the Collegio IV Novembre in Ostia. Viani is one of the representatives of the cultural and intellectual boom that characterises the regions of Versilia, Lucchesia, and Lunigiana in Tuscany and thus is highly celebrated today in Tuscany. What makes Viani a great master, often forgotten, is his ability to show great tragedy and pity along with poetry and empathy simultaneously. Viani dies of an asthma attack in 1936.
630 lots of his were sold at a minimum price of $13.00 (‘Maternità’, Print) through Mecenate Aste, Milan, 2014 and at a maximum price of $193,812 (‘Dame mit Chrysantheme, Painting, 2011) through Ketterer Kunst GmbH in Munich, 2012 between 1989 and 2016. Out of the 1,028 available auction results for Viani, there is a very high percentage of unsold lots between 1989 and 2016 for example France at 93.3% followed by the United States, Germany, and the United Kingdom at 50%. In 2016, the percentage of unsold lots was 100% in Germany and 48.6% in Italy and with no auction results in other countries.
Selected works currently on sale
Bottom: Untitled, mixed media, Galleria Michelangelo Sas
Selected Past Shows
"Lo Sguardo e la parola 1974/1983" (24 July 2016 - 11 January 2017), works from the Premio Viareggio Collection.
"La Grande Guerra di Lorenzo Viani. Viareggio-Parigi-Il Carso. Pittura e fotografia della Grande Guerra in Lorenzo Viani e Guido Zeppini" ( 6 December 2014 - 1 March 2015), Villa Argentina, Viareggio, Italy.
"Avventure della forma" (1 July - 9 September 2012), Fondazione Terre Medicee, Seravezza, Italy
"Il Futurismo a Viareggio e in Versilia. Accadimenti e riflessi dal 1918-1940", GAMC, Viareggio
Galleria d'arte moderna e contemporanea (Bergamo)
Galleria d'arte moderna e contemporanea GAMC (Viareggio) (Galleria d'arte moderna e contemporanea, Gallery of modern and contemporary art)
Pinacoteca Leonida ed Albertina Repaci di Palmi
- Lorenzo Viani had a very brief encounter with the Futurists but his works remain expressionist in nature. Viani's 1930 solo exhibition inaugurated by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti. Earlier, in 1907 he participates in the Venice Biennale and meets and befriends Umberto Boccioni, one of the major representatives of the Futurist movement.
- Lorenzo Viani and his wife Giulia Giorgetti move to Montecatini where she teaches elementary school. In this serene environment, Viani paints his series of Scolaretti- only a slight contrast to his usual dark and sombre style. His wife is then transferred to Seravezza in the Apuan Alps. During this period his works are inspired by the mountains and marble quarries and it is also when he distances himself from political activity.
- The sculptor Arturo Martini, after Lorenzo Viani's death in 1936, sculpted a bust of Lorenzo Viani to commemorate the great expressionist master. It was displayed at the Venice Biennale and then donated to the town of Viareggio. A copy is placed on the Viareggio harbour while the original resides at GAMC. This is a testament to Lorenzo Viani's important legacy in Viareggio and more broadly in Versilia and the rest of Tuscany.
- Lorenzo Viani, until 2008 has remained unknown to the public due to his works being owned primarily by local private collectors thus not permitting the circulation of his name and work around the world. In 2008 with the advent of the GAMC gallery in Viareggio, envisioned by the art historian Antonella Serafini, Viani's works have been rendered public. It owns the largest public collection of Viani with 85 works, including the ‘Benedizione dei morti del mare’- his undisputed masterpiece- ‘il Volto Santo’, and ‘Testa di pazzo’ his sculptural masterpiece along with many of his prints and engravings.