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giuseppe consoli photoThe second half of the 20th Century in Italy, brought to the art forefront an enormous amount of creative energies. Of all arts, modern sculpture, be it abstract or figurative, got a lot of attention and well known sculptors like Pietro Consagra, Nino FranchinaCarmen Cappello, Francesco Messina, Emilio Greco and Giuseppe Consoli all have something in common: They were Sicilian born artists.

Some of the roots for what I would call Sicilian Expressionism, a term not coined by me but by Sergio Spadaro in his essay on the Brunico Museum (Bolzano/Bozen region, Italy), are the hidden influences of a number of German artists that migrated to Italy in the 1920’s and 30’s. This was partly due to the rise of fascism, partly out of love for the country and its people, and the beautiful landscapes, climate and customs. Sometimes the migration was out of economic necessity.

These artists have been forgotten by now, with the exception of a few like the ceramist Rolando Hettner and the painter Christian Hess. Over the last few years more attention has been given to these artists in museum exhibitions. This wonderful website has the full story about Hess and his influence on Sicilian artists. It is a fine reference site for a number of Sicilian artists said to be working in this expressionist style.

The two Giuseppe Consoli oil paintings shown below are from the Christian Hess website.

Consoli-BagnantiConsoli-Paesaggio-etneo-(19Giuseppe Consoli who besides being an artist also had a post as a Museum Director. He gave the impetus to acknowledge the artistic debt to these forgotten German artists and to Christian Hess in particular (see website mentioned above).

Giuseppe Consoli was literally born on the side of the Etna volcano in a town called Mascalucia in 1919. Self taught, he started to partake in Regional and National exhibitions as of 1936. His art works were exhibited in Florence, the Gallery Numero in 1955, in Milan, the Gallery Apollinaire in 1956 and in Buenos Aires, at the Gallery Bonino in 1956. He won a prize at the Suzzara Painting Concours in 1950 and 1951, but slowly became interested in metal sculpture.

We have in our collection, two wonderful sketchbooks from the mid fifties with about 40 sketches for his sculptures which show his distinctive and nervous drawing style, in a few scribbles he brings his sculpture studies for “the man with a clarinet” to life.

consoli3consoli1consoli2consoli4consoli Bconsoli Cconsoli AWe would like to find a good steward for these sketchbooks, as we believe these should be in a museum collection or exhibition which would do justice to this Sicilian sculptor and his rich expressionist tradition in displaying these drawings.

In another post we will discuss the work of the German/Italian ceramic artist Rolando Hettner.