Francesco Somaini. Imagine sculpture 2. Painting (1950-1965)

From 2 March To 30 September 2023

Fondazione Somaini

The exhibition presents around seventy works created in the 1950s and 1960s representative of the different creative phases and techniques used with the aim of lead the visitor into the heart of the artist’s workshop: paintings and graffiti on wood, works paintings on canvas and sheet metal fired, works usefully compared with drawings in pencil, charcoal, ink and coeval plaster sculptures, ferric conglomerate, lead, pewter, copper, iron and bronze.

The exhibition itinerary explores the topic in thematic-chronological sections analyze the seasons of updating to the avant-gardes from beyond the Alps, of joining the MAC-Espace and Informal. The comparison between pictorial and plastic practice allows to highlight the close relationship between the two activities, in the field of imagination and sometimes of the representation.

In fact, Somaini sometimes returns to reflect in painting on sculptures already created, reserving them a critical “second look”, a sort of “rereading in color” alternative to photographic shooting, a practice which he himself conducted. In a series of small graffiti on wood made in 1957, Somaini instead studies some motifs that come
developed in the plastic work of the great informal season, which sees him reach international fame, also anticipating the original finish of the castings through the polishing of some parts, which becomes characteristic of his creative activity.

Paintings and sculptures from the artist’s archive, period collections and galleries such as the Open Art of Prato, allow for a partial reconstruction of the exhibitions held by the artist in this period, starting from the epochal review curated by Carlo Ludovico Ragghianti: Sixty masters of the next thirty years in Prato (1955). Among these are the
group exhibitions Colors and shapes in the house today in Como (1957), the second edition of the Prize Scipione in Macerata (1957), the Young Italian Artists exhibition in Milan (1958) and personal exhibitions set up at the Strozzina in Florence (1956), at the Salita in Rome (1957) and at the Saletta in Modena (1958).

The exhibition, which marks the start of the systematic filing of the pictorial, graphic, chalcography and photography by the artist conducted by Luisa Somaini and Chiara Rampoldi, in view of the publication of the related catalog raisonné, explores for the first time the pictorial production of the great Lombard sculptor, taking up the thread of the investigation initiated by Enrico Crispolti in the exhibition dedicated to the imaginative adventure in the field of activity graphics in relation to the plastic one (Como, 2015). Topic already partially explored also in the first posthumous retrospective dedicated to him by the National Gallery of Art Modern and Contemporary Rome in 2007: Francesco Somaini. The informal period 1957-1964.

The exhibition, curated by Luisa Somaini and Chiara Rampoldi, is accompanied by a catalogue published by Silvana Editoriale with essays by Emanuele Greco and Duccio Nobili accompanied by an anthology of poetic texts by the artist.

Opening hours
Thursday, Friday, Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Foundation will be closed to the public from Saturday 29 July to Tuesday 15 August inclusive.

Free admission by reservation only: call +39 02 583 117 07 or write to

Entrance for visitors in via Cassolo, in front of street number n. 3

“Francesco Somaini, sculptor and painter, in some studies shows a profound need to strip, to go to the essential root of things: the probing ability of an organism is accompanied by an equal capacity for synthesis, which leads his images towards the monumental calm of an architectural structure; but the development of the form, source and as it were born from a space that participates with a discovered vibration of vitality, maintains a sometimes sharp torment, which is accentuated in the drawings.”

Carlo Ludovico Ragghianti, 1955