Bisi Fabbri Adriana, At the Race Course
connected artists

1,915 - 1,918; pencil and watercolour on paper
cm. 36,8 x 22,8

Inventory: AI01099AFC
Provenance: Milan, Unione Internazionale Vedove Artisti (in 1974)

The drawing was purchased in 1974 from the Unione Internazionale Vedove d’Artisti, an association promoted by Magda Martinelli, widow of the painter Luigi Zago, which had been organising exhibitions of works by recently deceased artists since the previous decade.
Adriana Bisi Fabbri settled in Milan with her family in 1905. Two years later she married the journalist Giannetto Bisi (she moved to Bergamo and then back to Milan in 1914). In Milan she was able to continue her formation as a self-taught artist through her contact with artists like Gaetano Previati and Luigi Conconi, while her work as an illustrator intensified – in 1909 and 1910 she was a contributor to Il Giornalino della Domenica directed by Luigi Bertelli – and especially her work in the satirical genre, in which she achieved a resounding success at the Mostra Internazionale di Umorismo held at the Castello di Rivoli in 1911. That same year she was invited by Umberto Boccioni, a cousin of hers on her mother’s side, to the Prima Esposizione di Arte Libera (Milan, ex-Ricordi factory). The artist’s closeness to the contemporary avant-garde was definitively confirmed in 1914 when she participated in the exhibition organised on the Famiglia Artistica premises in Milan by the Nuove Tendenze group, whose programme – focusing on a renewal of the arts under the banner of a modern freedom of expression – was signed, among others, by Leonardo Dudreville, Achille Funi and Gustavo Macchi. Adriana Bisi Fabbri’s extremely modern style was also reflected in her work as an illustrator. In fact, during World War I, it extended beyond the satirical genre and from 1915 on she made many drawings for the stories in La Domenica Illustrata, a weekly published by Sonzogno, she executed fashion sketches for the Milanese atelier Ventura and received commissions for advertising drawings from companies like Cinzano and Michelin. The work in the Collection was most likely produced for this sector. The rapid lines and chromatic synthesis very effectively describe the couple seen from behind and highlight their elegance, in a style typical of the second half of the 1910s. The female figure  is particularly eye-catching in her simple modern dress that is reminiscent of the many fashion-sketches the artist made during those years, in which she gives a concrete image of the liberated woman she herself was.

Sources:Archivio Storico Intesa Sanpaolo, Patrimonio archivistico Cariplo, Opere d'arte. Atti d'acquisto ex Cariplo. Fald. 1/3, pratica no. 879 R/494


Sara Fontana, Adriana Bisi Fabbri, All’ippodromo, in Sergio Rebora, a cura di, Le collezioni d’arte. Il Novecento, Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio delle Provincie Lombarde, Milano, 2000, n. 27, pp. 61-62, ill. p. 61

Laura Casone
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