To Dream, to Collect


Ottone Rosai

1895 - 1957 Firenze, Italy

1 Works exhibited

Represented by


  • About the Artist
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Bibliography

Ottone Rosai (1895-1957) was born in Florence, where he attended the Academy of Fine Arts, from which, however, he was expelled after a few years due to his misconduct. Determined to continue the path taken, continue as a self-taught person.

The meetings with Giovanni Papini and Ardengo Soffici are fundamental for his training. It is, above all, the latter that brings him closer to the futurist artistic and cultural movement and to Marinetti's ideas, which will inspire his first pictorial production. Some works of Cubist ancestry also belong to this phase. The two artists exhibited together, in 1914, at the Sprovieri Gallery in Rome.His adherence to the futurist ideology also pushes him to enlist as a volunteer in the army and participate in the First World War, receiving two bronze medals. To integrate again into society, at the end of the war, it is difficult for Rosai who finds a new stimulus in the anti-bourgeois and anticlerical ideas of the young Mussolini.

From the pictorial point of view the favorite subjects are, at this moment, the members of his family, the dead nature or the portraits of ordinary people. Described, in the period of his artistic maturity, Rosai dedicates himself and observes more attentively than the humble and the description of everyday life, which recurs in the Tuscan pictorial tradition. These images are characterized by a return to the typical order of the post-futurist period. In particular, the attention to the rendering of volumes and colors that seems to show its debt to the style of Cézanne, is able, at the same time, to echo the Florentine fifteenth century.

His first personal exhibition was held in Florence at Palazzo Capponi in 1920, a moment of happiness that was immediately broken by the suicide of his father, who threw himself into the Arno because of the debts he had obtained. This pushes Rosai to take over his father's carpentry shop and solve the problem of the family's economic situation, which leads to the inevitable reduction of his pictorial activity. Meanwhile, until 1929 he worked as an illustrator in some Fascist magazines. The stipulation of the Lateran Pacts is seen by Rosai as a betrayal of his own expectations, provoking in him a violent reaction, which translates into a writing that arouses a great stir among the fascist hierarchies. The artist is therefore silenced by circulating some rumors about his alleged homosexuality, which threaten to affect his work as an artist.

In the 1930s, existential distress pushes the artist to live in isolation and his painting also suffers, being charged with anger and pessimism. In 1932, however, he finally reached his consecration of an excellent level with a personal exhibition at Palazzo Ferroni. Numerous exhibitions follow in other cities of the peninsula. In 1939 he was appointed professor of figure signed at the Liceo Artistico and in 1942 he was assigned the chair of painting at the Academy of Florence. Through the initiative of the City Aesthetics Committee, aimed at renewing the ancient ruined tabernacles with works by contemporary artists, in 1954 he painted and donated a Crucifixion, which confirmed his interest in the Tuscan pictorial tradition.
Rosai's painting is now reduced to a tangle of signs, characterized by a dull hue of an almost primitive root.

In Venice, in 1956, an important retrospective of his work was set up for the Biennale.
In 1957, while taking care of the preparation of one of his personal, he died caught by a heart attack.


Novecento Museum of Florence
Romagnoli Palace of Forlì

Michelangelo Masciotta, Ottone Rosai, Florence, F.lli Parenti, 1940.
Paintings by Ottone Rosai: from 4 to 22 June 1969, (Fiesole), Hall of the City Council, Florence, STIAV, 1969.
Alessandro Parronchi (edited by), Rosai today: 25th anniversary of his death, 13 May 1982, Florence, Galleria Pananti, 1982.
Ottone Rosai, Lettere: 1914-1957, edited by Vittoria Corti, Prato, Falsetti Modern Art Gallery, 1974.
Gloria Manghetti, Rosai: le petit futuriste, Florence, SPES, 1992.
Vittoria Corti (edited by), In the world of Rosai: letters from Rosai and Rosai, Florence, Giorgi & Gambi, 1995.
Vittoria Corti, Testimonials on Ottone Rosai, Florence, Giorgi & Gambi, 1998.
Stefano De Rosa (edited by), Ottone Rosai: from the futurist season to the mature years: Palazzina Mangani, Fiesole, 10 April-4 May 2003, with the contribution of Silvana Fei Doninelli, 2003.
C. Silla and L. Lucchesi (edited by), Collections of the '900: from Morandi to Guttuso (exhibition newspaper, Florence, Forte di Belvedere, 2006), Florence, Polistampa, 2006.
Antonella Crippa, Ottone Rosai, Artgate online catalog of the Cariplo Foundation, 2010, CC-BY-SA.

Works by Ottone Rosai

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19 x 29 x 3 cm


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