Carpi Aldo, St Mark’s Basin – St Mark’s Basin in Venice
works associated

1,937; oil on panel
cm. 60 x 73
Signed and dated bottom right: “Aldo Carpi 1937/ Pasqua”. On the back of the panel, top right, ink stamp: “ARTICOLI/ BELLE ARTI/ CANCELLERIA/ DISEGNO/ S. Marco Bacino Orseolo” and round ink stamp “A. Testalini Venezia”; top left, paper label of the 21st Esposizione Biennale Internazionale di Venezia with inscription in ink: “Aldo Carpi/ Il bacino di S. Marco a Venezia/ 6000 (seimila)/ [Proprietario:] Aldo Carpi/ R. Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera Milano”; on the stretcher, bottom right, paper label with stamped number “81”
Inventory: AI02037AFC
Provenance: Rome, Istituto Bancario Italiano (IBI) Collection (from c. 1972 to 1991)
Exibition: 1938, Venezia, sala 35, n. 24

The work comes from the Istituto Bancario Italiano (IBI) Collection, where it is documented as being at least from 1972. Painted at Venice in 1937, as attested by the stamp of the supplier of art materials on the back of the panel, the canvas was displayed, together with ten other works, at the 21st Esposizione Biennale Internazionale d’Arte di Venezia the following year. Among the subjects exhibited were several seascapes and lagoonscapes, including Venice in the Evening and In Front of Santa Maria della Salute, and this one in the Collection.

Landscape painting was a recurrent genre in the artist’s oeuvre, and he often found inspiration in the resorts on the Tuscan-Ligurian coast and the Venetian Lagoon. The city of Venice, in particular, was one of Carpi’s most successful subjects, and he always depicted it with renewed passion in his canvases until the Second World War when, due to his anti-Fascist activities, he was arrested and deported to the Gusen concentration camp. This tragic experience is recorded in Carpi’s famous Diario di Gusen, in which an entry written on 12 April 1945 is particularly striking since there is a similar feeling in this painting in the Collection. Carpi remembers the many trips he made to Venice with his wife Maria and calls to mind the views that gave him pleasure while travelling on the vaporetto: “The [Grand Canal] is always more beautiful, it seems wider and brighter. One goes past the dark spot of the Rialto Bridge, then under the very fine wooden Accademia Bridge; the [church of Santa Maria della] Salute and St Mark’s Basin appear before you. That great opening up which makes one think of the heavens opening up to reveal Paradise! Colour becomes softer, but is dense and rich: whites, light blues and yellows, and the slender blacks of the gondolas […]. From whatever point you see it, St Mark’s Basin is always amazing; it is immaterial, it is the landscape of good, beautiful, blonde fairies” (Aldo Carpi, Diario di Gusen, Einaudi, Turin 2008, p. 138).

In this passage one perceives a sensibility very close to the Magical Realism in the artist’s previous works – among which Happiness is noteworthy – which evidently continued to inform his paintings of the 1930s, like this St Mark’s Basin. Here, the use of colour dominated by “light blues and yellows” is also an individual reflection on the achievements of Chiarismo, an artistic movement that was also established in the 1930s, through the work of painters such as Umberto Lilloni, whose Sunset on the Sea is also in the Cariplo Collection.

Sources:Archivio Fondazione Cariplo, Pratiche Ex IBI. Opere d’arte. Fald. 1/2, scheda carico opere d’arte IBI no. 235


XXI Esposizione Biennale Internazionale d’Arte. Catalogo, Officine Grafiche Carlo Ferrari, Venezia, 1938, n. 24, p. 166;
Tesori d'arte delle banche lombarde, Associazione Bancaria Italiana, Milano, 1995, p. 375, ill. n. 733 (Il bacino di San Marco a Venezia);
Leo Lecci, Aldo Carpi, Il bacino di San Marco a Venezia, in Sergio Rebora, a cura di, Le collezioni d’arte. Il Novecento, Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio delle Provincie Lombarde, Milano, 2000, n. 51, pp. 83-84, ill. p. 84

Laura Casone
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