Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Fantastic vision of the Machine Age

The painter, printmaker, sculptor and ceramicist Gio Colucci (sometimes known in France as Géo Colucci) was born in Florence (one source says Cairo) in 1892, and died in Paris in 1974. He studied architecture at the École des Beaux-Arts, Paris, after which he went to Egypt to practice as an architect in Cairo. It was in Cairo that he gradually moved over from architecture to fine art. His older brother was the writer and publisher Guido Colucci, born in Naples; Guido and Gio collaborated on a number of books to which Guido furnished the texts and Gio the illustrations.

Gio Colucci, Bonheur du monde I
Etching, 1929
From copy 74/105
Printed by Paul Haasen on Arches wove paper

As a printmaker, Gio Colucci produced both etchings and wood engravings. From 1921 he showed his etchings at the Salon de la Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts, and also showed work at the Salon d'Automne and the Salon des Surindépendants alongside Gleizes, Herbin, Delaunay, and others. 

Gio Colucci, Bonheur du monde II
Etching, 1929

Gio Colucci's work in the 1920s was in an expressive late-Symbolist style, akin to that of Henry Chapront, who wrote of Colucci in Papyrus, March 1930: Ses eaux-fortes, outrancières et bien mordues, sont parfois surchargées de symbolisme. Ses compositions pour Bonheur du monde de François Turpin, révèlent une vision fantastique du machinisme. "His etchings, daring and deeply bitten, are sometimes laden with symbolism. His compositions for Bonheur du monde by François Turpin reveal a fantastic vision of the Machine Age."

Gio Colucci, Bonheur du monde III
Etching, 1929

I'm not sure if daring is quite the right translation for outrancières in this quote (which I found in Marcus Osterwalder's useful Dictionnaire des illustrateurs) - it means something like extreme or perhaps outrageous. There's certainly a powerful sense of almost Orphist or Futurist energy in the four etchings for Bonheur du monde, especially the last two.

Gio Colucci, Bonheur du monde IV
Etching, 1929

Besides Bonheur du monde, Gio Colucci made memorable series of etchings for works by Barbey d'Aurevilly, Pierre Loti, Maupassant, and Octave Mirbeau. Gio Colucci took up ceramics in 1929, and concentrated on pottery during WWII, which he spent in Provence after being demobilized in 1941. In 1956 Gio Colucci and Gino Severini founded the École d'Art Italien. There was a retrospective of the art of Gio Colucci in New York in 1959, in which year he also exhibited at the Quadriennale in Rome. Despite this success,  he died in poverty. The contents of his atelier were auctioned at Drouot-Richelieu in 1994.


Kristin H said...

Looked through a lot of your posts. Great blog:)

Neil said...

Thanks, Kristin.