First published: Winter 2019
The Collection de l’Art Brut showcases the complexity and richness of the Italian master’s double-sided paintings
The Italian artist Carlo Zinelli (1916–1974), who has also become known simply as “Carlo”, is one of the major historical figures in the field of art brut, along with such others as Aloïse Corbaz and Adolf Wölfli. Works by this Italian creator are found in numerous public and private collections and have been reproduced in books about art brut, often landing on the covers of such works, thanks to their powerful graphic character. Thus, general admirers are familiar with his work, however, his gouaches, which are most commonly seen, generally date to his second creative phase (1961–65), with their motifs repeated four at a time, or from his third phase (1966–69), during which his figures melded with writing.
Untitled (cab-2098 recto), between 1957 and 1958, gouache on paper, 13.8 x 19.7 in. / 35 x 50 cm
Knowledge of this body of work, which is so rich and dense, still sometimes remains incomplete. Among all the museums in the world, with 99 pieces, which amount to 165 gouaches and collages when their front and back sides are counted as individual works, the Collection de l’Art Brut in Lausanne, Switzerland, has the largest holdings of Carlo’s art. All of the works in its collection were acquired with the assistance of Vittorino Andreoli, Carlo’s attending psychiatrist, who was the first person to ever advocate for his patient’s artistic accomplishments and who established a privileged personal relationship with him.
This doctor played a fundamental role in assembling Carlo’s body of work, making a point of gathering together his most interesting and especially his most representative paintings, and holding them back from any speculative or commercial handling. This group of works spans Carlo’s entire creative period, from 1957 to 1972. Now, in the exhibition “Carlo Zinelli, recto verso”, which is on view at the Collection de l’Art Brut until February 2, 2020, and in its accompanying catalogue, the museum is presenting all of the artist’s gouaches in its holdings, allowing for a comprehensive overview of his oeuvre.
Certain features are clearly evident in Carlo’s art, depending on the respective dates on which he created his paintings. His work evolved over time; it developed, notably, with the artist’s growing sense of confidence in his gestures and, from 1966 on, his more assured use of pictorial space. However, it is mainly a sense of unity and coherence that one apprehends in Carlo’s universe.
This is an article extract; read the full article in Raw Vision #104