Project Description

Leoncillo Leonardi (Spoleto 1915 – Rome 1968), Figure who runs

Glazed ceramic in blue and gold measuring 31 x 12 x 10 cm, datable to the late Forties. The work presents a photographic certification signed by Enrico Mascelloni, Rome, 8 March 2019; will be included in the reasoned catalog of the artist edited by Enrico Mascelloni, soon to be published for the types of Skira. Provenance: V. Berla Olivetti Collection, Rome, purchased directly by the artist and later by inheritance; European private collection.

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Of himself Leoncillo – who was extremely cultivated – said “I am nothing but a ceramist”, thus marking his otherness with respect to an artistic environment that he felt was not authentic. And the choice of a poor and primary material like the earth was for him (a convinced Communist who, however, did not accept to bow to the “Soviet” realism imposed by the party) a choice of a political field too, identifying in ceramics the most “proletarian” among artistic techniques. After a long and fortunate season lived in the sign of post-cubism, the ideological crisis that he experienced for the Soviet invasion of Hungary led him, in the second 50s, to inaugurate a new art, made of a magmatic and corrugated material, which led him to the limits (if not even inside) of the informal; albeit an informal one that never completely broke away from reality.

Leoncillo Leonardi

His powerful vertical sculptures, split longitudinally by a deep cut, evoke, in fact, trunks torn by lightning, his San Sebastiano do really think of a wounded body, and horizontal sculptures (an absolute novelty, well before Carl Andre or Richard Long) are like clods of plowed earth or portions of freshly chilled magma, which opens up to show the red of the incandescent material. His wounded material, born from the tragedies of the recently finished war, which today finds a dramatic actuality.

With the end of the war the figuration of which a Balaustra had been compared to Antonello Trombadori to the ceramics of Della Robbia is annihilated in him. It is Moravia that intercepts this evolutionary phase: «Leoncillo has very quickly passed the first naturalistic positions, obligatory for every serious artist, since the artist is, first of all, an imitator of nature. But today Leoncillo, more and more digging at the bottom of his inspiration, seems to tend to a recollection and a simplification that he, in his discourses on art, calls abstraction. They are his best things, anyway».

Among these his best things it is possible to include this figure that runs, a work to put in close connection with the tea and coffee services made by Leoncillo at the end of the forties, modeled in forms that are at once attractive and monstrous, drawn by crooked chalices and multicolored, metaphysical and Cubist at the same time.