Giovanni Prini (Genoa 1877 – Rome 1958), The secret of the children
Bronze cm 31 x 32 x 32, signed (G Prini) on the base.
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“One of the most interesting young Roman sculptors”: this is how Giovanni Prini was greeted in 1908 by the great Vittorio Pica who proposed him for the Venice Biennale the following year. And it is precisely to the great Pica that we owe the most suggestive definition for Prini’s sculpture: “an enveloping harmonic line”. Just a single line wraps, gathering it in a lyrical representation of family affections, this group of children, marked by a feeling of tenderness and delicate humanity, very well guessed in the serious attitudes of those little men, all of them who mysteriously form a knot, confessing to each other grave fact, in the intimacy of an innocent complicity. No frills animate this small group – whose first version was exhibited by Prini at the LXXIII International Exhibition of Fine Arts of the Amatori e Cultori Society of Rome in 1903 -, no romantic lie transpires from this celebration of childhood, of its innocence and its intimate sweetness, picked by the sculptor’s hand with precision and refinement. This bronze is fully part of the corpus of works capable of uniting the two fundamental themes of the sculptor’s artistic production, spirituality and childhood, for the note. Prini elevates the world of children, their games, their simplicity, their spontaneity and carefree, inserting it into that humanitarian socialism of which he was one of the greatest interpreters.
Prini’s attention to the world of childhood, an interest that led him to conceive and design also pretty toys, is rooted in the loss of his beloved daughter Lisa, who died prematurely, a tragic event that led the sculptor to relieve pain with a series of extraordinary works, capable of filling the void caused by the absence of little Lisa. The issue was also analyzed in the exhibition “Giovanni Prini. The power of sentiment”, recently hosted by the Modern Art Gallery of Rome. In that important exhibition – which presented among others, the sculpture “Maternity”, on loan from our gallery – the series of sculptures dedicated to the world of childhood, such as the famous “Gemelle Azzariti”, occupied a prominent place.
Alongside the creation of sculptures of reduced dimensions that communicate his strong vocation for childhood, which will constantly accompany all his artistic production, Prini will go on to experiment with monumental sculpture, creating the frieze of the pronaos of the National Gallery of Modern Art in Rome representing “the artist and the artistic battles” or “Peana dell’Arte”. Important was his participation in the first edition of the International Exhibition of Decorative Arts in Monza in 1923. Present at the Rome Quadriennials and at the Venice Biennials, in the following years he obtained not a few official acknowledgments, such as the appointment as Academician of San Luca.