alALIGI SASSUigi sassu
catalogue of the works
Natalia Sassu Suarez Ferri
Fondazione Aligi Sassu

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PRESENTATION Critical essay catalogue of the works Information

Cristo caccia i mercanti dal tempio, 1929



The painting was on the back of the canvas Cittą studi of the same year. Both works date back to the debut of Sassu as an artist, when he gradually takes distance from the second futurism with which he had participated to the Venice Biennale in 1928 with Bruno Munari, both encouraged by Marinetti. This painting is one of the very first works of a religious subject, like the famous Ultima cena of the same year, and presents the same characteristics. In fact, in both paintings the biblical characters are portrayed in an urban context, specifically in Milan.
Milan is the main character of Sassu's primitivism, right in those years when the city was changing so much in the eyes of the artist, who always represents it in a geometrical structure, still legacy of the futurism, but with the twist of the melancholy and loneliness that is typical of the paintings of this period. In fact, Cittą studi itself is a desolated landscape, like that on the background of this work.
The Christ here portrayed by Sassu could be any man, like in Ultima cena of the same year, where all the apostles wear suits and ties. There is no trace of the temple, as if the city itself was the scenery of the biblical episode, and in which the merchants seem to be people walking by.
The colours are lighted up with a diffused light and the shapes are voluntarily little detailed. The painting allows us to foresee Sassu as a colourist, as he will soon blossom with his renowned Uomini rossi.
"Sassu's primitivism is not restricted to an interest for a humble humanity, with the most elementary feelings and aspirations. It regards even religious subjects with a spirituality that gets into daily life and is filled with an immediate emotional participation, of still a people's intonation, out of dogmatic conceptualism and didactic issues. From all this derive religious paintings permeated with flavour, which almost hide the educated "sources" (we have mentioned above Sassu's predilection for Angelico and Masolino) and manage to embody both souls of the poetic and of the painting of the artist in figurations dense with ideality and at the same time, but without debasing the spiritual content, with a "spontaneous" humanity." (Caramel, 2000)

I dioscuri, 1930



I dioscuri
are the first example of Sassu's love for myth.
The artist was very passionate about literature, first example of which passion was the famous illustration of Mafarka il futurista by Marinetti, who made him exhibit at the Biennale when he was only sixteen; in this display we will see how Greek and Latin myth accompany Sassu for his whole artistic career.
The myth of the argonauts, especially in the characters of Castor and Pollux, perfectly allows him to represent both the spirituality and the social struggle that are Uomini rossi.
In this case, we do not have the blood-red coloration of the bodies, but the meaning of the nudity of these characters is the same that was explained by Sassu in the quote about Cavallo nero e cavaliere of 1930.
And here we also have a return to the primitivist daily life of the previous year, in which historic and mythological characters are brought to an ordinary context, like the stone house and the railing.  


Gli uomini rossi, 1932



This is a work on paper that contains all the main characteristics of Sassu's drawings: their nature of notes, their spontaneity, which here we can find especially on the background, once again urban, in which Sassu brings his four Uomini rossi to life. This background is needed to underline the fact that his art, even when mythological and poetic, always has to be brought into real life, and therefore it encourages to understand the real meaning of his Uomini rossi as that youth and purity of feelings which is in all of us and which Sassu invites us to relive in our everyday life.  

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