curated by Pia Vivarelli23.02.1990 - 31.03.1990
With more than one hundred works coming from public and private collections, on February 23, 1990 the anthological exhibition dedicated to Renato Birolli opened in Verona in two seats, both at Galleria dello Scudo and Galleria d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea Palazzo Forti. It aimed at documenting the entire creative path by the artist, from the works of the early 1930s related to Lombard “chiarismo”, to the last ones executed in 1959, shortly before his sudden death. The exhibition, curated by Pia Vivarelli, was the result of a project realized under the patronage of the Municipality of Milan and the Municipality of Verona, with the collaboration of the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna, Rome and with the cooperation of Galleria dello Scudo.
The exhibition path is divided into six sections, referring to the six fundamental exhibitions by Birolli in Italy and abroad, that coincided with the same number emblematic moments in the evolution of his research: Galleria del Milione, Milan, 1932; Bottega di Corrente, Milan, 1940; Galleria di Santa Radegonda, Milan, 1945; solo show at the Venice Biennale, 1952; Catherine Viviano Gallery, New York, 1955; Haus am Waldsee, Berlin 1959.
Some works presented in the solo show at the Galleria del Milione in Milan in 1932 introduced the exhibition path. They included two canvases coming from the Civiche Raccolte d’Arte in Milan - Paesaggio urbano (1931), and S. Zeno pescatore (1931) – together with the testimonies of that "primitive" and "human" vein in line with the ideas promulgated by Edoardo Persico.
With the paintings exhibited in Bottega di Corrente in Milan in 1940 we entered the heart of the Milanese movement of which Birolli was the protagonist and animator. These included Eldorado (1935), L'età felice (1936) and Eden (1937) coming from the Civico Museo d’Arte Contemporanea - collezione Boschi, Milan; and Sicilia (1940) from the Galleria d'Arte Moderna, Turin.
There were also numerous public loans to document the following sections, corresponding to the transition phase, still full of figurative memories, with works coming from the Civico Museo d’Arte Contemporanea in Milan, and from the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna in Rome, up to the long abstract season, which from paintings such as Palude - Porto Buso (1951-53) belonging to the Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea Palazzo Forti, Verona, came to the series of "Incendi alle Cinque Terre". The exhibition path ended with the great canvas Ricerca del vero canto (1958) , a masterpiece presented in the same year in the solo show in New York. There was also the presence of works coming from American public collections: Canto popolare fiammingo n. 1 (1957) from The Detroit Institute of Arts, and Regione selvaggia (1958) from The Art Museum Princeton University, gift of Stanley J. Seeger jr.
A nucleus of thirty-five works on paper owned by the Birolli family completed the exhibition, flanked by a rich documentary section that included numerous photographic records from the family archive. For the occasion a complete catalogue was published by Mazzotta, with critical essays by Giorgio Cortenova, Roberto Tassi and Pia Vivarelli, and a rich documentary apparatus edited by Martina De Luca.