De Pisis, Filippo (Ferrara, 1896 - Milan, 1956).
    He was born in Ferrara on 11 May 1896 with the name of Luigi Filippo Tibertini. In 1904 he began to study drawing under the direction of professor Edoardo Domenichini (later he was to continue his studies with professor Giovanni Longanesi), even though at first he was more attracted by literature. In fact, after having gained his high school diploma, in 1914 he enrolled at the faculty of literature at Bologna University. He frequented cultural and artistic meeting points and made friends with Dino Campana, Giuseppe Raimondi, Marino Moretti, Umberto Saba, and Giovanni Cavicchioli. He studied the ancient history of Ferrara, writing essays on the minor artists of the past, but he was also interested in such avant-garde magazines as “La Voce” and “Lacerba”.
    His literary debut was with I Canti della Croara, with an introduction by Corrado Govoni, and a collection of poems titled La lampada. In Ferrara in September 1916 he came to know the de Chirico brothers and, a few months later, he met Carlo Carrà. Fascinated by the intellectual attitude to art of Giorgio de Chirico (about whom he wrote some articles), he approached the Metaphysical period as a theoretician and supporter of its new pictorial language, just as he was to do with Futurism which attracted him, above all, for its theatrical aspect, as is confirmed by his correspondence with Depero and Prampolini. What is more, from 1916 to 1922 he wrote texts inspired by the Futurists’ “synthetic theatre”. In the meanwhile he exchanged letters with Jacob, Apollinaire, and Tristan Tzara, and sent to the Dada events in Zurich collages and texts that were never published.
    In 1919 he met Filippo Tommaso Marinetti in Milan, Morandi and Cardarelli in Bologna, and Giovanni Comiso in Rome; the latter was to be his friend and collaborator for a long time. In the same year he realised such works as Il poeta folle and L’ora fatale, both in private collections. From 1916 to 1920 his output of paintings was only a part of his work which was otherwise mainly literary and critical. In these years, in fact, he collaborated with such magazines as “La Brigata”, “La Raccolta”, and “Valori Plastici” the last of which published just one essay (Pensieri per una nuova arte-L'arte figurativa e l'arte plastica, Rome 5 June 1918).
    After graduating in 1920 he moved to Rome where he visited museums (with a preference for seventeenth century art), lectured, and frequented such of the city’s cultural meeting places as the Caffè Greco and Caffè Aragno. Here he would meet up with the poets of the Ronda group and with the painter Armando Spadini, with whom he often went to paint en plein air.
    In March 1920, with his own written introduction, at the Galleria d’Arte Bragaglia he exhibited for the first time some drawings and watercolours, but without any great success. His stay in Rome (1920-1925) was interrupted by periods spent in Bologna, Ferrara, Poggio Mirteto, and Assisi where he was particularly struck by the painting of Giotto and the Lorenzettis. In November 1924 in Rome he exhibited his works in the foyer of the national theatre and, in 1925, he exhibited two paintings (Cibi agresti and Natura morta) at the third Rome Biennale. In March of the same year he went to Paris where he was to remain until 1939, though he frequently returned to Italy and made some brief trips to other places in Europe. In Paris he assiduously went to the Louvre, attracted by the works of Poussin, Delacroix, and Manet, but later on it was to be contemporary French painting that particularly attracted him. In fact in 1927 he frequented the studios of Soutine and Braque, at the same time creating relationships with artists from various nations.
    In this period, in contact with the works of the French Impressionists, de Pisis brightened his palette to create his typical light, speedy, and shorthand style that, with great freshness, transcribed fugitive visual impressions (in this regard, such works as Ponte sulla Senna a Parigi, 1926, and Quai Voltaire, 1928, are exemplary). In the Parisian milieu  he found many old friends of his: de Chirico, Savinio, and Palazzeschi, and came to know Moreau, Denoyer, and Segonzac. In this period de Pisis took part in various important exhibitions; in fact, in 1926 he exhibited three paintings at the I Mostra del Novecento Italiano (where he was to show again in 1929) and he was seen for the first time at the XV Venice Biennale (he was to exhibit there regularly from 1928 to 1936, 1942, and 1956). Again in 1926 a show of his work was held at the Galerie au Sacre du Printemps, Paris, with a catalogue presentation by Giorgio de Chirico. Later on, together with other Italian painters living in Paris, he took part in the very many shows of Italian art in various European cities.
    He exhibited at all the Rome quadrennial shows from 1931 to 1943 (in 1935 he had his own room) and at group and solo shows throughout the whole of Europe. In this period he also intensified his activity as an illustrator and critic; in fact he collaborated with numerous magazines, including “Fronte”, "Arte", "Il Selvaggio", "L'Italia letteraria", "Emporium", "Frontespizio", and "L'Ambrosiano". In 1939, due to the approach of war, he left Paris definitively and returned to Italy (he was in Milan from 1940 to 1943, and in Venice from 1943 to 1947), where he devoted himself wholeheartedly to painting, producing views of the city, portraits, large bouquets of flowers, and very many still-lifes. In this period he also practiced graphics, above all lithographs (in 1945 he made seventeen lithographs illustrating the Carmen poems by Catullus) and he continued to exhibit widely in Italy and abroad (in 1947 he also held a show in New York).
    In 1947 he went once again to Paris but, for reasons of extreme ill health, he was obliged to return to Italy where he spent the last years of his life. Here, obliged to pass long spells in hospital, he continued to paint (this was the period of his famous “spider webs”) and to draw, until the worsening of his health forced him to abandon painting and take up ink drawing. In fact his final works were speedy ink drawings made in the first months of 1953. Some months after his death in Milan in April 1956, the XXVIII Venice Biennale organised an important retrospective show of his works with sixty-five works, presented in the catalogue by Francesco Arcangeli.

    Lorenza Selleri in La pittura in Italia. Il Novecento (1900-1945), Milan, 1997.