This exhibition provided an insight into a crucial phase in the artistic development of one of Italy’s most stimulating artists, showing his unpublished works on paper.

Mario Sironi (1885-1961) was born in Sardinia but was brought up in Rome, where in 1903 he attended the Scuola Libera del Nudo at the Accademia di Belle Arti. Sironi served in the First World War alongside his fellow Futurists F.T. Marinetti and Luigi Russolo. After he returned to Milan the city’s rapidly expanding industrial and residential quarters became the dominant subject of his art. There he also became friends with Gino Severini and Umberto Boccioni, with whom he frequented the studio of Giacomo Balla.

This exhibition traced Sironi’s engagement with Futurist aesthetics and his development of a muscular, monumental style which was to become the hallmark of the later Novecento school, of which Sironi was the central figure. Several works shown also reflected Sironi’s personal response to the enigmatic imagery of the Metaphysical painters Giorgio de Chirico and Carlo Carra, depicting strange, mannequin-like figures in deserted city streets.

The drawings were purchased by Eric Estorick in 1948 when he visited the artist’s studio in Milan. Estorick had great admiration for Sironi’s work, which he continued to collect during the 1950s, acquiring pieces from every phase of his artistic career. The vulnerability of these drawings, however, kept them from public view until this exhibition.

Marcello Mastroianni and Jeanne Moreau on the set of La Notte by Michelangelo Antonioni, 1960 © Sergio Strizzi Photography

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Pasquarosa, Vase of Flowers, c. 1916

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