Giuseppe Santomaso

    Santomaso, Giuseppe (Venice, 1907 – 1990).
    He studied at the academy of fine art in Venice and had a preference for fifteenth and sixteenth century Venetian painting. His art developed through his contacts with the Ca’ Pesaro avant-garde artists Gino Rossi, Pio Semeghini, and Arturo Martini.
    From 1928 onwards he exhibited in the group shows in Ca’ Pesaro, his painting at the time being an expressionistic kind of figuration.
    In 1935 he held his first solo show in Milan and, in 1937, he made his first journeys abroad, to the Netherlands and then to Paris where he assimilated Cubist painting, above all that of Braque, even though employing the chromatic-luminous values typical of the Venetian tradition. In 1939 he exhibited at the Galerie Rive Gauche in Paris, and, from 1940, took part in all the most important national and international exhibitions.
    From 1939 to 1940 he undertook fresco decorations in Padua University. In 1942 he held a solo show at the Galleria della Spiga, Milan, and made twenty-seven drawings for a collection of poems by Eluard (published by Santa Radegonda, Milan).
    In 1946 he joined the Nuova Secessione artistica italiana movement, and then the Fronte Nuovo delle Arti, the manifesto of which he co-signed together with Birolli, Cassinari, Guttuso, Morlotti, Pizzinato, Vedova, Leoncillo, and Viani, and which was published in Venice on 1 October. In 1948 he began his participation in the Venice Biennale and, in the same year, he won the Venice city council prize. In 1950 he won the Biennale’s Income prize and, in 1954, its international prize for painting. With catalogue introductions by Giulio Carlo Argan, he exhibited works from 1941 to 1954, among which Natura morta col mandolino, 1942, Finestra, 1947 and 1948, Strutture nella nebbia, 1952, Tensione, 1953, and Ritmi rurali, 1954.
    In 1951 he collaborated with the architects on the decorating of Palazzo Antenore in Padua, and in Rome won the Esso prize. In 1952 he was awarded the fourth “Golfo La Spazia” national prize, and was also awarded the second Premio Nazionale prize for painting by the city of Gallarate. At the Biennale he exhibited Officina, 1951, Cantiere in Laguna, 1952, Finestra, 1952, Granaio d'inverno, 1952, Primavera alla Rotta, 1952. In 1953 he exhibited at the Hanover Gallery, London, and was awarded prizes at the II São Paulo Biennale in Brazil, and at the first International Painting Show in Mexico City. From 1954 to 1974 he taught painting at the Venice academy of fine art. From 1955 he devoted more time to printing and took part in all the most significant exhibitions in Italy and abroad. He was present at Documenta, Kassel, in 1955, 1959, and 1964. Further awards were the Premio Graziani, at the Galleria Il Naviglio, Milan, in 1956; the etching prize at the Ljubljana international graphics show in 1957, and the Premio Marzotto at the Valdagno international exhibition of contemporary painting in 1958. In 1958 he took part in Expo 58 in Brussels, “500 ans d’Arte Moderne”. In 1959, with a catalogue introduction by Mazzariol, he held a solo show at the Galleria Pogliani in Rome which was important because it revealed a change in his art language, a result of his journeys to Poland and Spain and in which he recuperated an emotive and fantastic reality. Among the works on show were Incendio di S. Maria del Mar, Storia catalana, Fiesta, Suite gitana, all painted in 1959.
    In 1963 he illustrated with four coloured etchings La mantide atea by Giuseppe Marchiori and, in 1964, he was commissioned to paint a mural for the new economic-social science high school in St. Gallen, Switzerland. In 1965-1966 an anthological show was seen in Hamburg, Berlin, and Dortmund; in 1967 he took part in the Tokyo graphics biennale.
    In 1970 he exhibited in the theatre of St. Gallen, Switzerland, concurrently with Eugène Ionescu’s last work Triumph des Todes, part of a series of shows titled “Artists Help the Theatre”. In 1971 he collaborated with the Università Internazionale dell’Arte in Venice and took part in the IX Ljubljana international graphics show. He produced seven lithographs to illustrate poems by Ezra Pound (published by Erker-Presse, St. Gallen) in 1972 and, in 1975, poemts by Veronica Franco (published by Yves Rivière, Paris).
    He took part in the show “Grafica oggi” at the XXVI Venice Biennale and at the X Quadriennale in Rome. He was awarded a prize at the Cracow International Biennale and at the VII Tokyo Graphics Biennale. He continued to exhibit widely until he died.

    Franca Bizzotto in La pittura in Italia. Il Novecento (1900-1945), Milan, 1997.