Alfredo Volpi, Brazilian (1896 - 1988)

  Son of humble Italian immigrants, Volpi arrived in Brazil before turning 2 years old. He settled in São Paulo and lived in the district of Cambuci for many years. He started his professional and artistic life as a wall decorator and became one of the most renowned Brazilian artists.

Introspective and of few words, he did not finish elementary school. He used to say: "(…) I have never joined any movement. (...) I started making ink blots. (...) To tell the truth I did not even know what impressionism meant. I just wanted to paint". These statements explain aspects of his life and work.

Most of the significant Volpi collection MAC USP was donated by collector Theon Spanudis, one of the first people to appreciate and acquire the artist’s works.

The twenty four works, most of them paintings, a drawing and three prints, show fundamental aspects of his production: the naturalist suburban landscapes of the 30’s and 40’s, produced during the weekends, when Volpi painted in the outskirts of São Paulo with artists that would later form the St. Helen Group. One of Mário de Andrade’s statements defines very well the group: " worked everyday and lived during the weekends", referring to the walks on Saturdays and Sundays with canvas, pallets and brushes. MAC’s collection has the row of houses from the 50’s. Volpi started focusing on houses, but nature is still present on the background. The façade stage is also well represented in the collection. They are pure plastic exercise that emphasize the simplification of the shapes, the geometrization of the creations and, together with Little Flag, represented the beginning of Volpi’s concrete stage, acclaiming him as a mature artist conscious of his poetics, even though he had always been indifferent to groupings and criticisms about his work.

MAC USP collection also has paintings on regional themes, such as traditional games, one more cultural aspect of Volpi’s work, and religious themes.
Drawing Church Façades (c.1953), crayon on canvas; show the initial lines of an unfinished painting, a "mold" that allows a "didactic" look on the genesis of a painter’s work. This work highlights the craftsman Volpi, who "made" the paintings, the canvases and the brushes he used to paint in his ateliers. He said that the preparations of materials was his "warm up" to start creating.
MAC USP’s collection allows clippings that emphasize the evolution process of Volpi’s poetics. That is the purpose of the three works analyzed below:
According to Klintowitz: (...) Slowly, as is required in a laboratory of such precision and invention, he (Volpi) developed his drawings. This evolution is represented by the gradual removal of almost everything. The final part was made through a reduction. . (...) The popular visuality, the boat, the sea, the square dance are turned into lines and geometrical figures. The world is reduced to the essential of his drawings and, when it becomes a structure, it broadens up to the symbolic level. (...) Everything is simple, everything is essential.

Maria Ângela Serri Francoio
Artist's Gallery

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