The Massimo Campigli Collection will be presented at auction on 7th December. It will include original artworks by the artist as well as rare mid-20th century Australian Aboriginal paintings and Oceanic art.
Massimo Campigli was one of the main Italian artists of the 1930s-1960s, renewing the figurative art of his time in a dialogue with the archaic arts of the Mediterranean. But he also paid passionate attention to extra-European artistic expressions, particularly those of the Oceanic and Australian aboriginal civilisations, which filled his studio in Saint-Tropez over the years.
His real name is Max Ihlenfeld, and he did not follow any academic artistic education, initiating himself to painting on his own. At the beginning of his career, he observed the classical work of Pablo Picasso, but in the mid-1920s he painted monumental works of almost symmetrical construction in the manner of the purist Le Corbusier.
A few years later, the artist made a lasting change in style. In his works, Massimo Campigli now depicts female subjects. His portraits do not represent the women he meets in his daily life, but those created by his imagination based on the artworks he saw in museums during his childhood. The artist often features erect, hieratic, and timeless female figures. The work Affresco, estimated at €20,000 - 30,000, is one of the best examples.
This way of representing figures comes from his discovery and observation of Etruscan art, which the young artist immersed himself in during the 1930s, as a passionate visitor to the Etruscan Museum in Rome. Therefore, the artist increasingly sought to represent archetypes and to capture the essence of the figures he depicted. His pictorial language was very archaic, as his oil on canvas Maison/Casa, estimated at €120,000 - 180,000, or his Triptyque, estimated at €40,000 - 60,000, show it.
Over the course of his career, Massimo Campigli produced an abundance of artworks on paper: drawings, lithographs, engravings, illustrated books and Roman-inspired wall frescoes were all techniques he mastered. Several lithographs are going to be auctioned, including the Donna al Telalo. In 1933, he signed the Manifeste della pittura murale with Sironi, Carra and Funi, which marked the beginning of his great success as a muralist. During his lifetime, his work gradually gained international recognition, being exhibited in London, New York, Amsterdam, Paris and Tokyo until his death in 1971.
His own creations from his estate, including paintings and graphic works, are to be discovered in relation to the artworks of Australian Aboriginal artists, his contemporaries on the other side of the world, in a dialogue around the Creation that the natives of Arnhem Land called “Dreamtime”.