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A new image of Sardinia

A new image of Sardinia

A new image of Sardinia

It was in the years between the 19th and the 20th century that the idea of the value of art as a tool for the formation of identity made its way into the intellectual class. In harmony with the cultural movement aimed at redeeming Sardinia, which has Deledda, S. Satta and Ruju among its protagonists, an artistic movement emerges that aims to build a new image of the island.

In the works of artists such as the sculptor Francesco Ciusa and the painters Giuseppe Biasi and Filippo Figari, Sardinia does not appear as a wasteland, afflicted by the chronic plagues of malaria and hunger and inhabited by a population atavically predisposed to crime (the “delinquent race” described by the anthropologists of the time) but as an exotic, seductive and fairytale island, on which the charm of the primitive hovers.

Even in Sardinia, therefore, you can breathe the primitivist climate typical of so much of the European culture of the moment; only here it is not the tropical paradises portrayed by Gauguin, the African masks collected by Fauves and Cubists, or the Byzantine icons loved by Klimt that catalyze the imagination of the painters, but peasants in folk costume and rough, bearded Sardinian shepherds.

The assumption of popular tradition as the foundation of an art permeated with “national” feelings (Sardinia was at the time seen as a nation and not as a region by most of its inhabitants) was common at the same time to other European countries with a fragile or threatened identity: from Ireland to the Nordic countries, from Serbia to Hungary. Thus, paradoxically, the reference to local roots is at the same time an element of participation in an international cultural context.

The new image of Sardinia appears first and foremost in the illustration: it is on the pages of illustrated magazines or as part of the advertising poster that the major Sardinian artists of the early twentieth century make their debut.
Coming from the ranks of the intellectual bourgeoisie, many of them are self-taught in the artistic field, even if some (like Figari) will later worry about acquiring specific training.

The fact that they did not attend art schools (which did not exist in Sardinia) leads them to ignore the academic styles prevailing in Italian art of the time, and instead to look at the dry and stylized languages of Liberty and the Viennese Secession, which found the main channel of dissemination in applied graphics.


20/9/2023 - 11:34


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