Oderzo, Italy, 1876 – Milan 1954
Oil on canvas
65 x 54 cm
Purchase, Horsley and Annie Townsend Bequest, inv. 2001.5
Alberto Martini stands at the crossroads of Symbolism, Italian pittura metafisica and Surrealism. He entertained many well-known figures of the day in his studio in Paris. When André Breton invited him to join the Surrealist group, Martini refused, preferring independence and solitude; but he was friends with Francis Picabia, Max Ernst, René Magritte and Joan Miró. He was the inventor of a “black style” characteristic of his original “teleplastic” and “psychoplastic” approach, executed with a deliberate absence of restraint and a creative intensity that he himself likened to hypnosis or clairvoyance. The hallucinatory power of this canvas is comparable to contemporary experiments by Surrealist photographers: it is almost an X-ray portrait. Its stamp of strangeness reveals the artist’s soul, his perception of the self – a self obsessed with erotic visions that fire the senses of sight and touch, expressing voyeuristic, even murderous, impulses.