Artist biography

Renato Guttuso born 1912 [- 1987]

Italian painter and polemicist, the leader of the social realist group in Italy. Born in Bagheria, near Palermo (Sicily). Abandoned law studies in 1931, to devote himself to painting. In Rome 1933-4 associated with Cagli, Mafai, Fazzini and others who were reacting against Novecento neoclassicism, then lived 1935-6 in Milan in contact with Birolli, Fontana and Persico. Settled in Rome 1937. Painted the 'Flight from Etna', his first large realist composition of contemporary Italian life, 1937-8. First one-man exhibition at the Galleria Cometa, Rome, 1938. Took an active part in the struggle against the Fascists and Nazis and made a series of bitterly anti-Nazi drawings 'Gott mit Uns'. In 1946 with Birolli, Vedova, Morlotti, Turcato and others formed the group Fronte Nuovo delle Arti. Made frequent visits to Paris to study modern French art and for a time was influenced by Picasso. Many of his works have been inspired by the poverty and struggles of the Sicilian peasantry. His later works also include large paintings of the student riots in Paris in May 1968, the funeral of the Italian Communist leader Togliatti etc., and a series of autobiographical canvases painted in 1965-6. Lives in Rome.

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp.348-9