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Giuseppe Ferrari

1921 - 2011 Bologna, Italy

5 Works exhibited



  • About the Artist
  • Curriculum Vitae

I met Giuseppe Ferrari in 1960. He was exhibiting at the Gallery Il Cancello and on that occasion I asked the director Giovanni Ciangottini if he could introduce me to the author of those paintings, which I liked very much. When this happened I found myself in front of a distinguished gentleman, who appeared composed, austere, of ancient education and elegance. He already wore a hawk's moustache and a raincoat, I dare say, as a matter of course. Frankly, I was in awe of him. Nevertheless, we talked, and I told him that I printed lithographs. Ferrari liked the idea, so he invited me to his studio to discuss the subject further. Our collaboration began. When I printed the portfolio of lithographs published by the Galleria de'Foscherari, precisely in May-June 1962, Ferrari was among the artists present. The folder, in 45 copies, included ten artists: Vasco Bendini, Carlo Corsi, Pirro Cuniberti, Luciano De Vita, Giuseppe Ferrari, Pompilio Mandelli, Luciano Minguzzi, Mario Nanni, Leone Pancaldi, Ilario Rossi. With many of them I had already collaborated, with Ferrari began from that moment a relationship that passed in a short time from mutual esteem to a true friendship. It seems unbelievable but Giuseppe Ferrari, a shy and reserved man, was a gentleman who loved cars and speed, so much so that when the radio or television broadcasted car races, he was totally immersed in them and "there was no one around". I remember that once he insisted on taking my son, then a child, and me on a tour of the hills of Bologna in his car. But, above all, he loved to paint: he went to the studio every day to do it.

As the years went by and with the occurrence of various work opportunities, the number of our visits increased until, starting in 2002, they became regular. In that period I would pick him up at home, we would go to the studio together and, in the evening, I would take him back. During the hours we spent together, we would talk about painting, but he was almost shy about showing his knowledge of art history and painting technique, and so we would often listen to the pocket radio that he kept on a metal shelf in the room where he painted, and we would exchange a few jokes. As the hours passed, however, he let himself go and illustrated the ideas underlying the works he was doing or had just finished, leading me along the stages of his eternal research on the figure, so much so that he wanted us to choose together the paintings to be published in the anthological monograph of 2005 edited by Claudio Cerritelli. It can be said that he worked for himself and not for 'official' recognition (the exhibitions, the participations, the prizes always came from the proposals of others, without him actively seeking them). He always went to exhibitions, looking for moments without an audience, as far as possible, and never went there for the social occasion. From what I know, I don't think he ever attended dinners, refreshments or receptions of any kind. He carefully observed the works on display, and later told me about them, but I never heard him criticize the artists.

In April 2005 his sister Rosaura died, to whom Giuseppe was very attached, so much so that her absence caused him a strong loss that I tried to alleviate as much as I could. He stopped going to the studio, also because his health had worsened (in the last years his back had bent, seriously reducing his mobility, he who had been a tall man of dignified formal elegance), but in his apartment in via Bellombra he continued to be active both mentally and, as far as possible, manually.        We also chose together the works to be shown to Andrea Emiliani for the anthological exhibition 'Figure nascoste' organized by the Fondazione del Monte 1473 and curated by Michela Scolaro (his last living exhibition). In recent times landscapes had returned as a recurring motif and the colors had become warmer. Since the '50s he always preferred to paint on paper, preferring acrylic (Morgan's Paint) and very rarely working in oil, but I want to remember the few beautiful watercolors. In the studio he painted standing up, without an easel, hanging the papers with metal clips on panels attached to the walls of the room. He would then evaluate the works both hanging, in vertical vision, and lying on the floor, in horizontal vision.

Giuseppe passed away in 2011, but he worked until the end. The very last works are small pastels, a technique that he could still deal with while working at home, sitting at the kitchen table.

Shortly before his departure he asked me to help him, as much as possible, so that his work would not be dispersed. Because of our friendship, I am trying to honor that commitment.

The 2015 exhibition organized thanks to the invaluable interest of Gallery 56 in the persons of Estemio and Alan Serri and Prof. Spadoni, I am sure can help to satisfy the desire of Giuseppe and to remember an artistic personality and a pictorial research, in my humble opinion, of great importance.

Giuliano Zini

Giuseppe Ferrari was born on May 4, 1921 in Bologna. He studied at the local art school. He was a combatant and prisoner of war. Repatriated in September 1945.

In 1946 he enrolled at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna where he had as teachers Giorgio Morandi and Giovanni Romagnoli.

He teaches drawing in secondary schools. Therefore, occasionally attends the Academy courses. From the beginning Ferrari's interest is directed mainly to the study of the human figure. He draws on this theme with various techniques and, to study the figure in movement, the pen stroke.

He paints a few oil paintings. He exhibits in student exhibitions such as: Dante Alighieri Art Competition 1946, where he receives a prize; Alma Mater Painting Exhibition; Mario Pozzati Prize in 1947, where he is awarded for drawing. It is appreciated by Francesco Arcangeli, who will write about his strong, innate ability to draw.

In 1950 he participated with drawings at the Venice Biennale. In 1954 Francesco Arcangeli published his essay: The last naturalists. From 1953 to 1956 Ferrari adheres to the poetics of naturalism and works on the theme of landscape referring to Cézanne, but in ways independent of the direct feeling "on the reason" of the Master.

Instead, he relies on a shared memory of the natural world. He exhibited this work for the first time in a group show, in 1954, at the Galleria La Bussola in Turin: Dieci pittori bolognesi presentati da Francesco Arcangeli. Later, together with Bendini, Pulga and Vacchi, in February 1956, at the Galleria La Loggia in Bologna and, with Fasce, Carmassi and Pulga, at the Galleria Il Milione in Milan. He comes into contact with American painting.

He is particularly interested in the spatial construction of Tobey, while not forgetting Cézanne. The composition of the painting is "a mat", crowded, for a result of naturalism-informal in which Ferrari continues to work throughout 1956.

In 1957 he participated, in Bologna, at the Circolo di Cultura in the exhibition: "14+2" together with Barilli, Bendini, Cuniberti, De Vita, Frasnedi, Ghermandi, Leonardi, Mascalchi, Nanni, Pancaldi, Pozzati, Pulga, Rimondi, Tartarini and Vacchi. The works that exposes are now far from naturalism and openly of "climate" informal. Participates in the important exhibition of young Italian painting organized by "Il Giorno" in 1958 in Milan.

Marco Valsecchi includes it in the publication Thirty-four works of young Italian painting published by the Gallery Il Milione, in 1958.

In April 1960 Maurizio Calvesi presents Ferrari in a solo exhibition at the Gallery The Gate of Bologna. The theme of the figure is the leading motif and, rightly, the critic coined the term "figurability" of Informal Art. This is the highly original period of Ferrari's Informal Art, when the Comparse, the Nocturnal Figures and the Busts come to life. The painter's strongly gestural automatism is used for a symbolic image of man. In November 1961 Francesco Arcangeli presents it in a large exhibition at the Gallery Il Milione in Milan, which also include landscapes that allude to a desolate natural world. Participate in national exhibitions: Biennial Morgan's Paint in 1959 and 1961 (year in which he was awarded a gold medal), X Prize Spoleto in 1962 (awarded along with Pisani, Uncini and Vespignani); New Perspectives of Italian painting of Palazzo di Re Enzo in Bologna; VII Modigliani Prize, Livorno 1963, in which, along with Mario Nanni, receives a prize.

He is invited to the XXXII Venice Biennale where he still presents works of figuration gestural. He begins his work oriented towards an exit from the Informal. Work that Roberto Pasini, in 1997 (in the writing Linee della ricerca artistica, 1965-1995, Bologna), describes in this way: "Now, as soon as he left the Informal, his natural abstemiousness of frequentations and groups doesn't make him involved in the new object thematization: far from every pop temptation, and far from whirlpools of painful existentiality for late realist notions, his style relies in this conjuncture on a particular taste: the informal residues are as if blended, no longer with the bitter and resentful voracity of the Comparse, but through a sort of masquerade, in which skulls, coats of arms, insignia, banners emerge, almost a crusade or court of miracles that has little in common, apparently, with the topoi of mass civilization and its labels à la page." He exhibited his works from the period 1964-1966 for the first time at the IX Quadrennial in Rome and later at the exhibition Contemporary Art in Emilia-Romagna, Bologna, 1966. On the same themes he also executes pencil tempera paintings.

In the following years, from June 1968 to September 1971, Ferrari is forced to remain inactive, for health reasons. He starts working again in September 1971. He doesn't lose memory of his informal experience and, mainly on the theme of the human figure, he still looks for a "significant form" beyond any notional evidence. In April 1975, at the Galleria La Loggia in Bologna, Flavio Caroli presented him in a personal exhibition, in which Ferrari exhibited works (1971-1975) in which a new figuration of his is present, with characters in the act of walking or going towards an exit at the limits of the painting. Thus, a path is traced that the painter will follow, with variations, until the end. As is evident in the exhibitions held at the Galleria Forni in 1981 by Giorgio Ruggeri; at the Galleria Civica d'Arte Moderna at Palazzo dei Diamanti in Ferrara in 1984, with a presentation by Adriano Baccilieri and at the Galleria Forni in 1988 with a presentation by Renato Barilli.

He was invited to the important exhibition Informal in Italy, Gallery of Modern Art, Bologna 1983. He is interested (1989-1990) in the technique of collage that makes a unique way, using pieces of his own work: painting on painting. The favorite theme is always the figure. Later Roberto Pasini presents Ferrari, at the Galleria Paolo Nanni, in three successive exhibitions. The first in 1993 is an anthological exhibition with works from the period of informal figuration. The second in 1994: the year of the Immoto andare. The last, in April 2000, in which the painter returned to inserting "elements" of his previous informal experience into the painting: automatic jets of color that became vertical casts, but with a different compositional function, that is, to remove the figures from the foreground without erasing them, in order to make them more remote and ghostly. Ferrari has been so sparing in showing his production that, during his many years of work, he has put together very few personal exhibitions. However, until the last years of his life, he continued his interesting research around the essence of the figure on a daily basis. He died in Bologna on October 30, 2011.

Works by Giuseppe Ferrari

Order by


60 x 50 cm

3000,00 €


130.5 x 90 cm

13000,00 €


80 x 70.5 cm

5000,00 €


80 x 70 cm

5000,00 €


75 x 105 cm

6000,00 €


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