Artist biography

Italian sculptor. After military service he resumed his studies, but he was expelled for protesting against the traditional teaching methods. Rosso preferred contemporary subjects: ordinary people and the destitution of modern urban life, which he captured faithfully with photographic accuracy.

Notably, however, this ‘search for truth' was not synonymous with a sterile representation of phenomena; rather, particularly in these early works, the same lively emotional involvement that generally characterised late 19th-century humanitarianism can be detected, still permeated by vestigial Romanticism.

Rosso's attempts to bring sculpture closer to painting andto achieve formal ‘dematerialisation' by means of light became even more marked with Impression of an Omnibus (1883–4; destr.). When Degas saw a photograph of the group and mistook it for a photograph of a painting, Rosso felt he had finally been understood.

Rosso moved to the French capital, where he stayed until c. 1915. After a stay in hospital, he modelled Invalid in Hospital (plaster version, h. 235 mm; Barzio, Rac. Rosso priv. col.), which in its fusion of three different elements, the invalid, the sofa and the floor on which it rests, may be regarded as a link between former work and the major works of the 1890s.

Through his contacts with the Post-Impressionists, between 1890 and 1893 Rosso began to make an even closer study of psychological dynamics.

Rosso's sculptures were particularly highly appreciated by the Futurists, especially Umberto Boccioni, who identified in them the premises for a dynamic conception of plastic shape in relation to its surroundings.

A. Soffici: Il caso Medardo Rosso (Florence, 1909)
——: Medardo Rosso (Florence, 1929)
N. Barbantini: Medardo Rosso (Venice, 1950)
M. Borghi: Medardo Rosso (Milan, 1950)
M. Scolari Barr: Medardo Rosso (New York, 1963)
G. Marchiori: Medardo Rosso (Milan, 1966)
Mostra di Medardo Rosso (1858–1928) (exh. cat. by L. Caramel, P. M. Kirchmayr and M. Negri, Milan, Pal. Permanente, 1979)
J. de Sanna: Medardo Rosso o la creazione dello spazio moderno (Milan, 1985)


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