Mucchi Gabriele, Caricature
works associated

1,983; Indian ink and biro on white paper
cm. 29,6 x 23
Signed and dated at the bottom in the centre: “Mucchi 1983”; on the back, study in India ink of the head of an old man with a stick
Inventory: AI01434AFC
Provenance: Milan, Servizio Studi e Statistica Cariplo (in 1983)

Like the other two caricatures in the Cariplo Collection, this drawing is one of the illustrations that Mucchi produced for Antonio Ventura’s Fogli dal Tavoliere. Storie di Tata. The story appeared in 1983 in the quarterly Rivista Milanese di Economia published by Laterza for the Cariplo, which commissioned Mucchi through its department of studies and statistics. The text was then reprinted with some additions and alterations in Ventura’s book Le fave dietro lo specchio, an anthology of stories published in 1986 by Il Rosone, a periodical of information and culture regarding the Puglia region founded in Milan in 1978. It was in this year and for this publication that collaboration began between the artist and the writer from Troia in the province of Foggia on a series of stories in the dialect of the latter’s hometown with illustrations by Mucchi. The painter also produced drawings in 1983 and ’84 for two illustrated supplements of the Rivista Milanese di Economia, one featuring 13 poems by Bertold Brecht, which he also translated, and the other Illazioni su una sciabola, the first novel by Claudio Magris.

Storie di Tata is based on the writer’s family history and in particular the biography of his grandfather, also named Antonio Ventura. Nicknamed “Barcarotta”, he served in the colonial war of conquest in Eritrea in 1885 and lived in Troia as a small shopkeeper with a bent for gambling. The stories of other characters that develop around him present a picture of 50 years in the life of ordinary folk from the last decades of the 19th century to Fascism. This drawing of the main character in his old age illustrates a precise section of the text.

Mucchi captures the simultaneously grotesque and bitter character of the scene perfectly in perfect harmony with the tone of the story, demonstrating a skill that he developed in the 1920s and ’30s in collaboration with the writers Achille Campanile and Cesare Zavattini. While playing a leading part in the Realism movement after World War II, he did not abandon this successful creative vein in his maturity but rather undertook new enterprises, including the illustrations for an edition of Voltaire’s Candide published in 1967 by Vangelista.

Sources:Archivio Storico Intesa Sanpaolo, Patrimonio archivistico Cariplo, Opere d’arte. Atti d’acquisto ex Cariplo. Fald. 2 / 3, no. 879 R / 615


Antonio Ventura, Fogli dal Tavoliere. Storie di Tata, in "Rivista Milanese di Economia", n. 6, Laterza - Cassa di Risparmio delle Provincie Lombarde, Bari - Milano, aprile - giugno 1983, ill. p. 212;
Sara Fontana, Gabriele Mucchi, Caricatura, in Sergio Rebora, a cura di, Le collezioni d’arte. Il Novecento, Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio delle Provincie Lombarde, Milano, 2000, n. 247, p. 244, ill.

Laura Casone
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