MARGHERITA SARFATTI

MILAN AND ART

2019-03-27

Gian Emilio Malerba, The wait, 1916 

In the early twenties in Milan, a modern 'art system' began to take shape, involving critics, gallery owners, artists and merchants. Margherita Sarfatti played a leading role in the growth of some of the greatest Italian twentieth century artists. 

Milan, then as now is the most dynamic and alive city in terms of culture and ideas, inevitably it becomes attractive for artists such as Emilio Longoni, Carlo Carrà, Umberto Boccioni, Luigi Russolo. Margherita Sarfatti, coming from an important family in Venice, moved in Milan immediately creating a Social Museum, a Theater of People and other initiatives. Her idea is that art must not remain a phenomenon for 'a selected few', but it must be open to everyone and  all of us must be able to enjoy Beauty.

Margherita is a fervent socialist militant and yet does not mask her wealth, chooses the best clothes, wears important jewels. Every Wednesday she opens the doors of his residence in Corso Venezia 93 to writers, poets, musicians, politicians and personalities from the economic and social world: Ada Negri, Gabriele D’Annunzio, Luigi Pirandello, the Majno. Among those you could find artists that Margherita supports: the futurists Umberto Boccioni and Luigi Russolo, the favorite sculptors Medardo Rosso and Adolfo Wildt, the painters and friends Achille Funi and Arturo Tosi, and then Sironi, Bucci, Dudreville, Salietti. Her living room becomes a point of reference, a place where ideas are exchanged and new relationships and collaborations are woven. Margherita is a woman capable of making a difference. 


In 1925 the volume Segni colori e luci is published in Bologna. Notes of art, in which Margherita expresses her thoughts: aesthetic quality is realized in a disciplined way, where 'constructive and rational prevail over sensitivity and appearance'. Margherita refers to a sincerity capable of renouncing easy frills, favoring sobriety and limitation: in essence, an idea of ​​a firm and well-structured synthesis of forms. Mario Sironi must be the point of reference for 20th century painters. It is you, Margherita, who supports and encourages the artists of the movement called 'Novecento'. The motif of this name, proposed by Anselmo Bucci, is thus expressed by Sarfatti: 'Fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, designate periods of Italian hegemony in the world of thought. Our century feels that it will still see the primacy of Italian painting. I feel that we will still say in the world and in time: Italian twentieth century ”.

Among her friends, before the totalitarian drift, there was also Benito Mussolini, who is known to have played for a long time in socialism. Margherita tamed the 'lion' and even managed to give him a speech on art at the first official exhibition of the twentieth century group, in 1923, at the Pesaro Gallery. At the 1924 Biennale, the movement gained international fame. 

Among all, in the eyes of Margherita, Mario Sironi represents the artist who best understood the lesson of the ancients on measure, composure, square and simple sobriety, succeeding at the same time in glorifying the most squalid and disordered aspects of today's life. 

The more the regime gets more and more, Margherita will leave her old friend and leave Italy altogether. 

Margherita is for us the example of a strong, courageous, committed, alive, leftist yet not radical chic woman, not afraid to invest in the beauty of clothes, of art. A woman who was not afraid of opening her home and her life at the meeting. She lived as a protagonist, making the difference for many. 

The pictorial legacy of the twentieth century is certainly also due to Margherita Sarfatti.

( Maximiliano Cattaneo) 

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