GINO SEVERINIItaly 1883 - 1966

The present painting is related to the commission for a mosaic at Clinica Pediatrica dell’Universita di Padova. From what presumably started as a visualisation of the work in situ Severini has created a presentation work that is altogether more beautiful and interesting. The mosaic floats in an ambiguous space, slightly away from the walls and behind two brutalist pillars that are stylistically in keeping with the architecture of the Clinica Pediatrica though not literal depictions. Indeed, the work eschews literalness and is a striking and detailed depiction of the mosaic thrown into relief against the neutral colours and anomalous space of its intended setting.

GINO SEVERINIItaly 1883 - 1966

Born in Cortona, Gino Severini moved to Rome in 1899 where, alongside Umberto Boccioni, he studied the developing Divisionist techniques. He settled in Paris in 1906, befriending Amedeo Modigliani and falling in with the city’s avant-garde circles. His friendship with Boccioni convinced the artist to join the Futurist movement in 1910. Between 1913 and 1914, Severini’s studies of light, movement and cabaret dancers approached total abstraction, but he returned to a figurative style for his war paintings of 1914. The ‘return to order’ that came about following the First World War – rejecting the extreme avant-garde tendencies of art in the years leading up to 1918 – caused Severini to paint his most naturalistic work, Maternity, in 1916.

During the late 1920s and early 1930s Severini executed frescos and murals in a series of Swiss churches having rediscovered his Catholic faith in 1923. After a period of semi-abstract work, in the 1950s Severini returned to his Futurist style for a series of mosaic and large-scale decorative commissions. For the church of Saint-Pierre in Freiburg, Severini executed a mosaic detailing the Conségna delle Chiavi (“Delivery of the Keys”). Receiving a commission to decorate the offices of KLM in the Via Bissolati, Rome, Severini allowed certain aspects of religious iconography to permeate his work on secular buildings. The present painting is a preparatory work for the mosaic of the University of Padua’s paediatric clinic: a highly finished study of how the work might look in a brutalist modern setting.