Posts Tagged ‘ Italy

Organic Surrealism

In the second part of today, it will be the Organic Surrealism and Enrico Donati’s works.
First of all, he was the last one of the Surrealism member – Andre Breton accepted him in 1939-.
He was an Italian but moved in SUA in 1934.

Let’s see why organic, shall we?

In the dictionary
a : of, relating to, or arising in a bodily organ
b : affecting the structure of the organism

a (1) : of, relating to, or derived from living organisms (2) : of, relating to, yielding, or involving the use of food produced with the use of feed or fertilizer of plant or animal origin without employment of chemically formulated fertilizers, growth stimulants, antibiotics, or pesticides
b (1) : of, relating to, or containing carbon compounds (2) : relating to, being, or dealt with by a branch of chemistry concerned with the carbon compounds of living beings and most other carbon compounds

a : forming an integral element of a whole : fundamental
b : having systematic coordination of parts : organized
c : having the characteristics of an organism : developing in the manner of a living plant or animal

Donati was interested in archeology and anthropology. Maybe that’s why … he combined them to … this!

sources: collections

In most of his work can be seen various organisms – from unity – that live in water or air and floating or simply step into the new dimension.
There are formations that remain at the stage of amoeba or simply they turn in others – a woman’s leg remains almost or completely disfigured, the body turns into another ‘ weapon’ – arms are some spindles-.
The colors are composed and decomposed in a room full of blue – and all its shades-.
Red is sometimes shy, but sometimes covers the whole space, very little appears the yellow.
The Donati’s world is organic because all his figures grow like plants or animals that ingest or are either predators or prey.
It’s like a battle of survival.
Not to say that since 1965 Donati has a perfume?
Try one! 😛

Here I will put in front of you the Donati’s interview from 6 September 1968.

Oral history interview with Enrico Donati, 1968 Sept. 9, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Interview with Enrico Donati
Conducted by Forest Selvig
In the artist’s studio in New York City
September 9, 1968


The following oral history transcript is the result of a tape-recorded interview with Enrico Donati on September 9, 1968. The interview was conducted in the artist’s studio in New York City by Forest Selvig for the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.



FS: This is the first tape of an interview with Enrico Donati in his New York studio on Monday, the 9th of September, 1968. The interviewer is Forrest Selvig. We’re sitting in Mr. Donati’s studio overlooking Central Park. Now we can just converse as though this tape somehow doesn’t exist. Mr. Donati, you told me that you came here for the first time when you were 27.

ED: No. I came in 1934. I was 25. And I spent three months visiting the country, particularly I came because I was interested in Indian art. So when I landed in New York by boat naturally I went directly to New Mexico and Arizona. And I started to visit the different Indian villages and tried to get acquainted with their ways of living, their habits, their art, their tools. I spent about a month with them. And I collected already at that time . . . I exchanged all sorts of gadgets that I had brought from Europe to try to collect some Hopi Indian cachina dolls and other Indian objects.

FS: May I ask you, Mr. Donati, how is it that you who are a native of Milan would have this great interest in American Indian art?

ED: There is a museum in Milan . . . there is a Natural History Museum, not in the park but in the gardens of Milan near the Cosa Venezia and I used to visit it. There were a few examples there, but just examples, maybe 3 or 4 pieces of Indian art and masks and objects and maybe one or two Eskimo objects. Then I went to Paris and in the Trocadero — in the Musee de Trocadero — there was a larger collection of the same things. I was mostly interested in the idea behind the objects; why they made these masks and these cachina dolls; what they were used for. And then the idea of the painting on the wood, not only the carving but the painting on the wood and the painting on their masks, on the faces, and what it meant started to puzzle me. And I couldn’t find anything else in Europe with the exception of a number of books in Germany that had been published, but neither France nor Italy had anything published in Indian art. So it was — how would I say it? It was just a crazy interest of mine to get involved in Indian art. There were two things that I was mostly interested in: one was the Indian art and the other was Eskimo art. I tried during the three months’ period that I was in America for the first time in 1934 to cover this as much as I could. I traveled extensively. And I went up to Canada, to British Columbia, and up to Hudson Bay. I tried to find where Eskimo art was. I didn’t really find it personally but I found traces of it. And in Montreal I found collectors that had objects, particularly ivory objects and wooden masks that came mostly from the Baffin Islands. And I started to be apassionate of this type of art. First of all, being a youngster, I didn’t have the money to buy it. I only had to money to come and I had probably enough objects that I had brought along to exchange. So it was really a trade.

FS: I’m very curious about the particular appeal of North American Indian art to you other than, say, primitive art of other areas, African and so on. Why was it specifically North American Indian art or Eskimo?

ED: Well, for one thing, the North American cachina dolls are very highly painted and they’re very eloquent as objects and they’re very human. For me they were more human than the African masks or sculpture that were sad in a certain way. And being Italian and liking color, I found that the American art that was painted on wood had much more appeal than plain objects coming from Africa that normally were painted probably black and white or brown and white, or something, but not highly painted like the American Indian’s.

FS: I see. This is, of course, after you’d been at the Accademia? You were at the Accademia in Milan, weren’t you?

ED: I was not. I started with music. And I got a doctor’s degree in science at the University of Pavia to make the family happy. And that was about that. But particularly I wanted to be a musician, a composer. I started to work with 2 or 3 very famous teachers in Milan. One was Amfossi and the other one was Apiani, both from the Conservatory. I was fairly good at piano. But particularly I was interested in composing. Also, since I was born in 1909, during the period in which I started to become a man and understand about the facts of life, the Fascist regime was there and everything was guided in such a manner that even the most advanced composers were not recognized by the Italian regime. They were not allowed to be played. I’m talking now about composers like Prokofiev, Honegger, Francis Poulenc of France, and others that you probably know. At the same time as music was not allowed, let’s face it, surrealism that existed in France was not allowed in Italy and was not considered art. So in consequence, the more something is forbidden, the more you are attracted to it.

FS: Yes.

ED: So as a composer I wanted naturally to get involved in that type of music that was not allowed in Italy. So I was naturally thrown out by every music school because I was composing things that were probably considered as crazy as John Cage was considered crazy here 20 years ago and who is no longer considered crazy. You know what I mean. Like Varese. He composed all his life and he had little recognition at the end of his life. The same thing! So in consequence I was so antagonized by the music teachers as well as by my family that my mother ended up by selling the piano and not allowing me to work anymore. I kept on stubbornly working and I went abroad when I was 15 years old. I went to Germany. I went to England. I went to Czecho-Slovakia. I went all over Europe. So I was aware of what was happening outside. But then when I came back I didn’t have the opportunity to develop anything constructive because it was always taken apart. So in consequence I was a frustrated musician, I would say. And I was trying to create in music somehow what I tried to do later in painting — express my emotions and put them into sound. And, unfortunately, I was completely torn apart by the regime plus the family plus Italy at that time. So it was kind of an escape for me to go abroad. I went to the Germans and to the English and to the French to try to learn something and read into them. My first opportunity to come to America was ideal because I was getting out and breaking with what was a regime.

FS: Had you already decided then . . . were you already a painter when you came to America the first time?

ED: I was always interested in painting. I had several friends that were painters. I had gone to school and learned about painting and drawing but I had never taken it seriously. I took it seriously when I went back to France from America in 1934. I stayed in France for a few years, then came back here. I went up and down with America. But basically I took it up when I went back to France. In France I joined a group of friends, musicians and composers and we all had a studio in Montmartre, up on the ninth floor with no elevator, a walkup. And in this studio that was way up on the top of this building, the name of the type of floor is mansard, just smack under the roof. We had two little bitsy rooms there and we were, I think, nine artists working together.

FS: Who were the artists? Were they Italians or Americans?

ED: No, they were everybody. There was an Italian called Cesare Brero, a composer that was fairly successful. He went to South America afterwards.

[Telephone ringing — FS: “I’ll get it.” Tape runs silently for about 9 minutes]

ED: One of my teachers was Robert Hale who was teaching anatomy. I took a couple of years with him in anatomy. Then I wanted to learn about designing and I wanted to learn about script and lettering, and I worked with Trafton who was a very famous teacher at that time. He even invented the Trafton script. I wanted to experiment. I wanted to try different things. And I got involved in that.

FS: By this time you felt completely committed to the visual arts, I take it?

ED: Yes. Completely. I was involved not only a hundred percent but I’d even tried to get a job. First of all, I wasn’t ready to have a show yet. Secondly, I was in the process of thinking and trying to create an idea in my head and not just to paint a painting. I didn’t want to paint a painting. I wanted to paint an idea, to express an idea on canvas. I had to be ready physically to be able to paint anything so that I could paint an idea. So I went through the entire routine of school with Agars, is it, to be ready to express an idea on canvas. It took a long time before I was able to create an idea. It was a long struggle. And it was not only the technique that counted. It’s not really the painting per se that counted for me. It was what am I going to express on the canvas? What am I going to put on the canvas? I started to read a lot. I started to absorb a lot of what the Surrealists were doing. And I started to meet a few artists. And I started to, let’s say, develop a little library in my own head. It’s by the thinking more than the working that I started to build an idea. I came across some books in which the Legend of Mandragora was for me the opening of a new world. You probably know what it’s all about. Mandragora is a root . . .

FS: Mandrake root we call it.

ED: . . . that was found under the gallows nourished by the sperm of the hanged man. And this thought about the root that had a physical human connotation, let’s say, born by the sperm of the dying man was like a continuation of life in a different form. Right?

FS: Yes.

ED: So, in consequence, it started to build with me the idea of life and rebirth. On one side there’s the destruction of life and on the other side there’s rebirth in a different form. So this started to become my metaphor: the destruction and the rebirth. I started to build a world of Mandragora. Instead of being just a world of the Mandragora, the root of the legend, mine became a more universal Mandragora, by being in other forms that I could find, perhaps maybe animals had created another form of rebirth. You walk into the forest and you pick up a root of any kind, maybe it hasn’t got human features but maybe it has another type of features, maybe animal features. Maybe it’s a rebirth of another type of situation.

FS: Did this interest lead you to a study of the Hindu philosophies at all?

ED: The Hindu philosophy came so much later it isn’t even funny. No, I didn’t make any connection with it at all. I really studied the problem of the destruction and the rebirth. It has been a part of my life for maybe 20 years. It starts by, let’s say, the shell of an animal that is alive, and it dies and it petrifies, and then you find it in the form of a stone, fossil, and you break the stone and you find it’s alive again. It has a spirit that continues.

FS: Also, it seems to . . . it has a great similarity to the Christian doctrine about, you know, you have to be born again in the . . .

ED: It would be a rebirth.

FS: Rebirth! The old evil man dies and you are born again as the sinning man dies.

ED: Yes. So consequently, let’s say philosophically, my point of departure for creation of an idea was destruction and rebirth. And it was the Mandragora that started it all. I kept on working until I was successful in making a series of paintings that had the Mandragora as a world. At that time there . . . I don’t think you’re interested in knowing my historical background in my shows and what happened, but I’ll tell you an interesting moment of my life. Lionello Venturi, the famous art critic, came to one of my shows, to my first show to be more specific, and he said, “You must meet Andre Breton,” He sent me to Breton with a note saying, “I think this guy belongs more to you than to me,” because he was a specialist in Cezanne and the Impressionists. And I met Breton and I started to tell him all about what I was thinking. Then he came up to see some of my paintings and he was interested. He was convincing in the respect that he thought it was valid. I was uncertain of what I was doing. Let’s face it, I was much too young and I was not cocky enough to say this is it. He advised me to continue and to get involved more to really stay with it. I did stay with it for a number of years, and he made a preface later to my first show in a gallery. He liked my colors; he liked my blues. At that time I was doing a lot of paintings in blues. And he liked the idea of Mandragora. He liked the spirit back of it. I will say this, he was a wonderful pusher. He really pushed me to work and to produce. He came around — I don’t know — practically once or twice a week. And we used to have lunch together practically every day. Through him I started to meet the boys. I knew a few but I didn’t know them that well. I really started to get involved. I became a Surrealist with the Surrealist group for a number of years. And that was a fabulous experience because I don’t know if you realize what it was for a young kid to one day walk into a restaurant and see such a gentleman like him, lean and very — a man. He didn’t look like a genius, he just looked like a man. I was having luncheon with Matta and Max Ernst and Breton and the wife of Breton, at that time Jacqueline. And Breton jumped from his seat as if he had a spring under the seat and he went over to this man who was coming in to the restaurant. The restaurant was Larre here on West 56th Street. And he bowed in front of him like it was God appearing. That man was Marcel Duchamp. He had just arrived in America. And everybody went there and — it’s Marcel Duchamp. Naturally I found myself surrounded by a bunch of geniuses, a bunch of fellows who knew it all. Between them there were, let’s say, three young men, three kids; and the three naughty boys were at that time Matta, and another one with me was David Hare. David Hare at that time was a photographer; he was getting a little bit involved with sculpture. So we were the three young boys of the crowd, let’s say. All the others were masters. So you just shut up and sat down and let the boys talk and try to absorb as much as you could. I want to go back to one point now that I think is something that every student in the world should know now that I’m an old man because I will be sixty in four or five months, so I’m an old man. Now I can talk. And I’ve told this to every student in every class in which I was a speaker or lecturer or a visiting critic or God knows what. And when a kid asks me what should I do next? How can I develop my work? my first approach to him is this: do what I did and start to become the valet of a painter. You go in in the morning and clean up his brushes and wash his dishes and empty his garbage and just stay there and watch him work and try to absorb from the beginning to the end, and learn, and shut up, and sit down, and do nothing else. But just stay there with him and listen to him and discuss with him when he wants to open up his mouth. Otherwise you just shut up. But you watch and you see how he works and what he does and how he stretches his canvas, and what happens later. How he thinks and how he puts something on canvas and then he erases it, and then he starts again and then he destroys it. And what the processes of thinking are and what the processes of painting are. For me, if I had to start again, I’d start like that. And that’s what I did with Camillo Agars. That’s what I did with other artists with which I was just a servant. And there I learned more than going to school in any class, even of a genius. You wouldn’t learn a damn thing in school. You only learn with a guy sitting and living and eating and sleeping with him and absorbing. That’s the only way.

You can read more here:

His world is fluid. As it rises from the water, develops and dies still there. As if the universe itself had taken part in an underwater world – that’s his theme, organic (as the Universe develops itself in water through a plant (Algae) or animal (all shapes and sizes!)-.
Even his stones are alive and the fossils come to life.
Everyone’s is alive into his paintings, full of liveliness.
Although it can be included in Abstract Expressionism Donati remains a Surreal. And for me, an Organic one.

If you want to read more :

international exhibitions


1. France

Jeanne Lanvin
Palais Galliera – 8th March to 23rd August 2015
The Jeanne Lanvin Fashion House, which is still in business today, has just celebrated its 125th anniversary. It is taking over the Palais Galleria, Paris’ fashion museum, for an extraordinary retrospective to present the best of the Parisian brand, created by Mademoiselle Jeanne in 1889.
Robert Doisneau: Sculptors and Sculptures
MusĂ©e Rodin – 14th March to 19th November 2015
This exhibition on the photographer Robert Doisneau at the MusĂ©e Rodin looks back on the reportage he produced during the casting of Rodin’s Penseur (The Thinker), and on the photographer’s interest throughout his career in sculptures displayed in public spaces and sculptors’ studios.
Pierre Bonnard, Painting Arcadia
MusĂ©e d’Orsay – 17th March to 19th July 2015
After the Bonnard exhibitions held worldwide, the MusĂ©e d’Orsay owed it to itself to devote a retrospective to him that is representative of all his creative periods. A man of the 19th and 20th century, Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947) is a major figure whose work, dominated by colour, inspired the great artists, from Matisse to Balthus, as well as the young generation of French and American post-war abstraction, represented in particular by Bazaine, Sam Francis and Rothko.
Grand Palais – 25th March to 13th July 2015
Acclaimed as the “painter of painters” by Manet, Diego VelĂĄzquez (1599-1660) is the most famous painter of the Spanish Golden Age. Organised by the RĂ©union des musĂ©es nationaux-Grand Palais, the MusĂ©e du Louvre and the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, with the general support of the Museo del Prado, this exhibition presents a comprehensive overview of Diego VelĂĄzquez’s work, from his early life in Seville up until his final years. One of the major events of this year.
Poussin and God
MusĂ©e du Louvre – 2nd April to 29th June 2015
To mark the 350th anniversary of the death of Nicolas Poussin (1665), this exhibition at the Louvre highlights the originality of the sacred painting of the greatest French painter of the 17th century.
Napoleon and Paris
MusĂ©e Carnavalet – 8th April to 30th August 2015
The theatre of the Napoleonic era, Paris was the centre of political, diplomatic and high society life under the “Great Empire”. This exhibition aims to illustrate the complex relationship that existed between Napoleon Bonaparte and the capital. The Tuileries Palace became the Emperor’s official residence during this period, and played host to the new court as well as the European elite. The exhibition concludes with the legacy Napoleon left behind through monuments such as the VendĂŽme Column and the Emperor’s tomb.
Le Corbusier. The Measures of Man
Pompidou Centre – 29th April to 3rd August 2015
A visionary architect and urban planner, a theorist of modernity as well as a painter and sculptor, Charles-Edouard Jeanneret, known as Le Corbusier, left an indelible mark on the 20th century by revolutionising people’s way of “living”. With this retrospective, the Pompidou Centre is inviting the public to look at the works of this great figure of modernity through the concept of human proportion and the “measures of man” as a universal principle that defines all dimensions of architecture.
Anish Kapoor
ChĂąteau de Versailles – Mid-June to October 2015
We all remember Monumenta 2011 at the Grand Palais dedicated to Anish Kapoor, a London artist born in Bombay. In the summer of 2015, he will take the place of Korean artist Lee Ufan for the annual contemporary art exhibition in the gardens of the ChĂąteau de Versailles, following in the footsteps of artists such as Koons, Murakami, Venet and Penone.
The Inca and the Conquistador
MusĂ©e du Quai Branly – 23rd June to 20th Septembre 2015
The 1520s: two men, one ambition. Through the portraits of the Inca emperor Atahualpa and the Spanish Conquistador Francisco Pizarro, the exhibition retraces the conquest of the Inca empire and illustrates the confrontation of two worlds based on Spanish and indigenous accounts of the conquest.
Splendour and Misery. Images of prostitution in France (1850-1910)
MusĂ©e d’Orsay – 22th September 2015 to 20th January 2016
The first major event dedicated to the theme of prostitution, this exhibition at the MusĂ©e d’Orsay aims to demonstrate the central role that this murky world played in the development of modern painting, from Manet’s Olympia to Degas’ Absinthe, Toulouse-Lautrec’s and Munch’s visits to brothels, and various figures such as Vlaminck, Van Dongen and Picasso.
Andy Warhol. Shadows
MusĂ©e d’Art Moderne (MAM) – 2nd October 2015 to 20th January 2016
The first of its kind in Europe. The MusĂ©e d’Art Moderne is organising an exhibition of Andy Warhol’s monumental series Shadows, a 130m long installation of 102 paintings composed by the artist in 1979.
Picasso and Contemporary Art
Grand Palais – 7th October 2015 to 29th February 2016
Some of Pablo Picasso’s emblematic works, such as Les Demoiselles d’Avignon and Guernica, are here placed in dialogue with contemporary works by David Hockney, Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, Martin Kippenberger, Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Jeff Koons. The exhibition retraces the creative confrontation between these artists, as of the 1960s, and Picasso’s works.
Tatoueurs, tatoués (Tattooists, Tattooed)
MusĂ©e du quai Branly – 6th May 2014 to 18th October 2015
Following in the footsteps of the anthropological exhibitions presented at the MusĂ©e du quai Branly, “Tatoueurs, tatouĂ©s” puts the artistic and modern dimension of tattooing into perspective through its planetary and centuries-old history. The exhibition, which returns to the origins of tattooing and presents the revival of this phenomenon which has become permanent and globalised, aims to pay tribute to the pioneers of the modern era, the “heroes” who have developed this art but whose role has never been officially recognised.
Other important dates:
Museum Night: 16 May 2015
European Heritage Days: 19 and 20 September 2015
Nuit Blanche arts festival: 3 October 2015
FIAC International Contemporary Art Fair: 22 to 25 October 2015



2. Germany

3. Spain



5. Japan

6. Brazil

7. Canada

8. Hong Kong

9. Netherlands
!!!! for the Van Gogh fan’s !!!

10. UK

what I like:

(stay chill, not the death part… the colour part! 😀 )