Friday, May 4, 2012

Segantini, Giovanni

Eitelkeit (Vanity)
oil on canvas
78x126 cm
Kunsthaus Zürich, Switzerland

"I've got God inside me. I don't need to go to church." (Segantini)
Giovanni Segantini (1858 - 1899), born in Arco in the province of Trient, was an Italian painter known for his large pastoral landscapes of the Alps. He was one of the most famous artists in Europe in the late 19th century, and his paintings were collected by major museums. He was active in Switzerland for most of his life.

After spending a few years in Milan painting genre subjects, he moved to the Lake Como district with his young wife. The rest of his life was spent in virtual isolation as he moved higher and higher into the Alps. With its pure and clear air of the Alps, he was able to develop a style which exuded radiance and at the same time went hand in hand with the evolution of the Divisionism painting technique and his progression towards Symbolism.

Already during his lifetime, he was celebrated through much of Europe as an innovator and prophet, as well as an important symbolist painter. His work represents the quintessential transition from traditional nineteenth century art to the changing styles and interests of the twentieth century.
Over the course of his life he moved from both the physical and emotional internal, such as his scene of motherhood in a stable, to the grand external views of the mountain scenery where he chose to live. Nature and the connections of people to nature are the core themes of his art. After he moved to the mountains he wrote "I am now working passionately in order to wrest the secret of Nature's spirit from her. Nature utters the eternal word to the artist: love, love; and the earth
sings life in spring, and the soul of things reawakens." He himself referred to his work as "naturalist Symbolism."
Segantini died of peritonitis in 1899, at the early age of 41, while working on his painting.