Libero ANDREOTTI

(Pescia, 1875 – Florence, 1933)


1.  Nude with a Towel,  1918–19 ca.


Pencil on smooth water-marked paper, 315 x 220 mm.
Initialled upper right:  LA


Provenance: Ojetti collection; Florence, private collection


Exhibitions
Libero Andreotti. Sculture e disegni, curated by Silvia Lucchesi, (Firenze, Galleria Lapiccirella, 2 – 22 December 1994), Florence–Siena, Maschietto & Musolino, 1994.
Libero Andreotti, Antonio Maraini, Romano Dazzi: gli anni di Dedalo, curated by Francesca Antonacci and Giovanna Caterina de Feo, (Rome, Galleria Francesca Antonacci, 14 May – 26 June 2009), Rome, 2009.


2.  Bacchant, 1917 ca.


Pencil on smooth water-marked paper, 315 x 220 mm.
Initialled upper right:  LA


Provenance: Ojetti collection; Florence, private collection


Exhibitions
Libero Andreotti. Sculture e disegni, curated by Silvia Lucchesi, (Firenze, Galleria Lapiccirella, 2 – 22 December 1994), Florence–Siena, Maschietto & Musolino, 1994.
Libero Andreotti, Antonio Maraini, Romano Dazzi: gli anni di Dedalo, curated by Francesca Antonacci and Giovanna Caterina de Feo, (Rome, Galleria Francesca Antonacci, 14 May – 26 June 2009), Rome, 2009.

Description

Libero Andreotti was born in Pescia on 15 June 1875.  He moved to Florence in 1899, initially working for a printer and then transferring in 1902 to Mario Galli's workshop, where he began to model in clay.  He started to show his work in the early years of the new century, in Venice in 1905, in Milan the following year and then at the Salon d'Automne in Paris from 1909 to 1914, while a one-man exhibition of his work was hosted by the celebrated Galerie Bernheim-Jeune in Paris in 1911, allowing him to acquire a higher profile on the international art scene.  Moving to Paris in 1909, Andreotti discovered a vibrant and stimulating artistic milieu in which he developed a new style influenced primarily by such artists as Maillol, Bourdelle and Bernard, thanks to whom he adopted a compact approach to sculptural mass which his work had lacked hitherto.
He returned to Italy when war broke out in 1914 and settled in Florence, where he met Ugo Ojetti.  It was in these years that Andreotti rediscovered the Italian artistic tradition, revisiting those artists who had proven capable of renewing their work through the lesson of the Quattrocento masters.  He turned his hand to portraiture with some success in 1915 and 1916, seeking his inspiration in the work of Donatello and carving his famous sculpture of Marchesa Ada Niccolini.  His FishmongerCherry Seller and Woman Fleeing, all works of rare formal stringency, were also carved during this period.  He was appointed to the post of assistant to Domenico Trentacoste at the Accademia in Florence in 1915 and titular professor of decorative sculpture at the Istituto Artistico Industriale in Florence in 1920, being awarded the chair of the department two years later.  He died in Florence on 4 April 1933.
The human figure was the inspirational element par excellence of Andreotti's entire artistic output, enshrining his creative force.  As Franchi points out, Andreotti "believed in beauty, but not in the absolute, radical beauty of the idealism then predominant in Italy.  He believed in fatuous beauty but he struggled to ensure that its expression did not become fatuous" (Franchi, 1940); and this, both in his sculptures and in his graphic work.  The artist had shown great interest in drawing, which he often conceived as a compendium to his sculpture, and indeed his entire sculptural output is accompanied by numerous sketches and studies, of which the Bacchant and the Nude with a Towel under discussion here are two splendid examples.  The two drawings show a formal affinity with a series of sculptures which Andreotti carved between 1917 and 1919.  Both are characterised in stylistic terms by a rounded, simplified hand strengthened by softly undulating movements designed to convey a vibrancy of volume achieved through the use of chiaroscuro.
In the Nude with a Towel, the young girl adopts a pose in the upper part of her body akin to that found in Andreotti's sculpture Modern Venus (1917–19), where the woman is carved with her face slightly inclined and her arms folded on her hips; her slightly bending legs, on the other hand, echo his bronze statue of a Woman Drying Herself (1919) and clutching a towel as in the drawing under discussion here.  Andreotti had already experimented with the posture found in this drawing in works dating back to 1915, for instance in his Fruit Seller.
The Bacchant, on the other hand, is a study for the sculpture entitled Nude (or Bacchant) that he carved in 1917.  The sculpture is seen from the back in this drawing (De Feo, 2009, p. 30).  The young girl, portrayed nude with her legs crossed, rests her left arm on a support which is more clearly defined as a trunk bedecked with fruit and plant motifs in the sculpture.  Her body is solid yet soft and delicate at the same time, both in the drawing and in the final sculpture.

General bibliography:

Mostra individuale di Libero Andreotti, introduction by Ugo Ojetti, (Milan, Galleria Pesaro, 1921), Milan, Alfieri & Lacroix, 1921.
Enrico Sacchetti, Vita d'artista: Libero Andreotti, Milan, Treves, 1936.
Libero Andreotti, exhibition catalogue, (Pescia, Villa Sismondi, 9 February - 10 March 1976), Pescia, 1976.
Scultura toscana del Novecento, edited by Umberto Baldini, Florence, Nardini, 1980.
Silvia Lucchesi, Libero Andreotti nel 1921, «Artista», 2, 1990, pp. 44-57.
Libero Andreotti. Sculture e disegni, catalogue of the exhibition curated by Silvia Lucchesi, (Florence, Galleria Lapiccirella, 2 - 22 December 1994), Florence-Siena, Maschietto & Musolino, 1994.
Libero Andreotti, Antonio Maraini, Romano Dazzi: gli anni di Dedalo, catalogue of the exhibition curated by Francesca Antonacci, Giovanna Caterina de Feo, (Rome, Galleria Francesca Antonacci, 14 May - 26 June 2009), Rome 2009.


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