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From the Crisis of the Late 19th-Century Expressionism to the Avant-Garde and the “Return to Order”

From the turn of the century until the 1930s, the situation regarding Italian art – and that of Europe as a whole, albeit with national variations – was extremely complex. The interweaving, concurrence and at times contamination of currents of very diverse origins and objectives created a scenario that not only does not lend itself to an ad hoc descriptive phrase (and even less to an ism), but demands a close reading of the individual situations – not to mention the developments or changes of direction introduced over the years by most of the leading artists.
Important and decisive exponents of this phase feature in the Bank’s collection, including names such as Sartorio, Innocenti, Balla, Trampolini, Severini, De Chirico, Savinio, Martini, Viani, Spadini, Dudreville, Casorati, Campigli, Ferrazzi, Carena, Oppi, Socrate, Sciltian, Carrà and Sironi. Key aspects of this extremely complex period are described for visitors to be website. 
It was during this period that the various aspects of 19th-century artistic culture, from Divisionism to Symbolism to Verism, exerted their final influence. The residual expressive potential of that influence spent itself even as the avant-garde movements created an authentic stylistic revolution: movements to which Italy would make the leading contribution with Futurism and Metaphysics.
As the first decade of the 20th century drew to a close, the creative impulse of the artistic revolution unleashed by the avant-garde movements (Fauvism, Cubism, Abstractionism) reached a crisis point that enabled the establishment throughout Europe of currents collectively referred to as a “return to order.” From around 1925 onwards, these trends forged new relationships with artistic periods of the past, assuming specific forms in Italy, which are well represented in the Bank’s collection.
In Italy the “return to order” manifested itself not only in the form termed “preference for the primitive” but also and in classicist, classicizing or archaizing revivals.
Since so single definition of this period is possible, the present Tour covers a broad range of expressive movements. Their specific language and contribution to the wider Italian and European artistic context will be commented in the notes on each artist’s life and works.

Antonio Del Guercio