Carrà, Carlo (Quargnento (Alessandria), 1881 - Milan, 1966).
    Carrà was trained in the field of decoration, first in Valenza Po and then in 1895 in Milan where he enrolled at the Brera Academy’s evening classes. He continued his activity as a decorator which was to take him to Paris in 1900, where he worked on some of the pavilions at the Universal Exposition, and to London.
    Having returned to Milan, in 1906 he enrolled at Cesare Tallone’s course at the Brera Academy. He shared an interest in Divisionism and, through his friendship with Previati, Grubicy, Bonzagni and Romani, he was also influenced by Symbolism. In this period he painted I cavallieri dell’Apocalisse (1908). In 1908 he held his first solo show at the Famiglia Artistica in Milan, where he exhibited mountain landscapes in a Divisionist technique. Some of the paintings from 1909-1910 (Piazza del Duomo, 1909, and Stazione di Milano, 1910) show, in their choice of urban themes and the nocturnal illumination, affinities with the contemporary production of Boccioni. In 1910 he signed the Manifesto of Futurist Painting and the Technical Manifesto of Futurist Painting, in full support of Marinetti’s Futurist movement. He painted Notturno in piazza Beccaria (1910) and finished I funerali dell’anarchico Galli (1910-1911).
    During a trip to Paris together with Boccioni in 1912 for the organisation of a show of Futurist painting at the Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, Carrà came into contact with the Cubists. In his works from 1912-1913 he increasingly distanced himself from Boccioni’s Futurism, based on the idea of objects in movement and descriptions of speed, and developed a personal constructive approach that was to bring him into contact with the Florentine group “Lacerba”, in particular with Ardengo Soffici.
    After having signed in 1913 the Manifesto of Painting, Sounds, Noises, Odours and the Futurist Political Programme, and having painted such works as Donna + bottiglia + casa (1913), between 1914 and 1915 he made great use of collage, and experimenting with a new interest in sculptural values instilled in him by Cubism and his experiences in Paris. These were the years of Parlata su Giotto and Paolo Uccello costruttore, critical essays published in 1916 by “La Voce” in Florence. His approach to antique painting was a result of his admiration for its volumetric rigour in the construction of bodies in space. A part of this attitude is to be found in such paintings as L’Antigrazioso or Bambina e Gentiluomo ubriaco (both from 1916).
    Called up in 1917, Carrà was posted to the military hospital in Ferrara where he met de Chirico, Savinio, and De Pisis. In 1917-1919 he developed a personal vision of Metaphysical painting which led him to go beyond the more obviously de Chirico-like enigmatic motifs of La camera incantata (1917) and La musa metafisica (1917) in favour of an art more oriented to inquiring into the mystery of ordinary things (Natura morta con squadra, 1917).
    In the post-war period he collaborated as a designer and critic with the magazines “Valori Plastici” and “La Ronda” and, after a period of inner crisis and meditation during which he mainly devoted himself to drawing, he painted Le figlie di Loth (1919), important for its indication of his interest in fourteenth century Italian painting – which in 1924 was to lead to a monograph on Giotto – and the masterpiece of which was Il pino sul mare (1921).
    In 1922 he became art critic for “L’Ambrosiana”, a post he was to fill until 1938; in the same year he was invited to the Venice Biennale for the first time. Even though not officially belonging to the Novecento Italiano group he was present at the first and second of their shows at the Permanente in Milan (1926 and 1929). In 1926 he painted L’attesa, one of the most emblematic works of the current Magical Realism atmosphere.
    In the years 1927-1928, during long summer holidays in Forte dei Marmi, he developed a new idea of landscape, one reinforced by his rethinking of Cézanne’s example (Meriggio, 1927; Cancello, 1927; Foce del Cinquale, 1928).
    From 1930 onwards he flanked his landscapes and seascapes with a new interest in the human figure (Estate, 1930; Le figlie del pescatore, 1932; I nuotatori, 1932). In 1933, on the occasion of the fifth Triennale, he helped with the decorations of the Palazzo dell’Arte in Milan to which he contributed a mural (since destroyed). Still in the area of public commissions are the decorative panels he made for the sixth Triennale in Milan (1936) and the mural paintings for the Milanese law courts (1938).
    Due to his distinction, in 1941 he was awarded the professorship of painting at the Brera Academy and, in the following year, Dell’Acqua and Pacchioni arranged a solo show of his work at the Brera gallery. Besides his activity as a painter, Carrà continued to work as an art critic and theoretician, and published Il rinnovamento delle arti in Italia (1945) and Segreto professionale (1962), collections of his writings about art. He devoted himself to an intense activity as an illustrator (he illustrated Quasimodo’s translation of the Odyssey; Mallarmé’s Un coup des dés, 1945; Rimbaud’s Saison en enfer, 1946; and Ungaretti’s translation of Mallarmé’s L’après midi d’un faun, 1947).
    In 1950 he was given a room to himself at the Venice Biennale where he was awarded the prize for Italian art. In the final years of his life he received important awards and honours, such as the solo show in London in 1960, and the anthological show at Palazzo Reale in Milan in 1962. He died in Milan on 13 April 1966.


    Francesca Dogana in La pittura in Italia. Il Novecento (1900-1945), Milan, 1997.