Catalogue entry

Gerardo Dottori 1884-1977

T01336 Explosion of Red on Green 1910

Inscribed 'DOTTORI | 1910' b.r.
Oil on canvas, 19 3/8 x 27 3/8 (49.2 x 69.5)
Presented by the artist 1971
Exh: Dottori Futurista: Mostra Antologica, Palazzo dei Priori, Perugia, September 1968 (4, repr. in colour): 19e Biennale Internazionale d'Arte: Premio del Fiorino, Palazzo Strozzi, Florence, May-June 1969 (Dottori 1); 14 Premio Termoli, Palazzo Communale, Termoli, August 1969 (works not numbered, repr.); Dottori: Aeropittore Futurista, Galleria 'Qui Arte Contemporanea', Rome, March 1970 (1); Mostra Omaggio a Gerardo Dottori, Galleria 'Il Centro', Jesi, November 1970 (1); Mostra Antologica Gerardo Dottori, Palazzo del Popolo, Todi, March-April 1971 (8, repr. in colour); Galleria 'Pier della Francesca', Arezzo, April-May 1971 (6); Gerardo Dottori, Galleria della Trinità, Rome, March 1972 (works not numbered, repr. in colour)
Lit: D.T., 'Colloquio con Gerardo Dottori' in La Gazetta dell'Umbria, 15 October 1967, pp.4-5; Alberto Sartoris, Gerardo Dottori (Milan 1968), pp.7, 20, repr. pl.1 in colour; Guido Ballo, Dottori: Aeropittore Futurista (Rome 1970), pp.13, 65, 89, 112, repr. pl.V in colour; Franco Passoni, introduction to the Dottori exh. catalogue, Todi, 1971; exh. catalogue Omaggio a Dottori nel Novantesimo compleanno, Galleria d'Arte 'Il Caravaggio', Rome, February-March 1975, letter of June 1972 to the compiler repr. in facsimile, the painting repr. pl.1 in colour (but not exhibited)

The artist has written of this work (letter of June 1972): 'In the early years of the twentieth century, years in which I attended the Accademia di Belli Arti "Pietro Vannucci" in Perugia, I had a strong desire to free myself from the old rules of teaching used up till then ... One morning in May 1910 I decided to go outside the city, and ... far from the Accademia, try to paint a landscape: it was a very beautiful morning, fresh, luminous and, as was rather uncommon, on the green of the corn there were vast red expanses of poppies. I did not know how to paint this and returned home with a vivid impression, with the sensation of the interaction of these two complementary colours, red and green, when they are found together: red, when it meets its complementary, green, becomes ultra-red and explodes ... green, on the other hand, remains calm, silent and immobile ... These sensations led me to create this my first abstract picture.'

He said that at the time he painted this work (1910), he had had no contacts with the Futurist movement, which was based in Milan. He had however been in contact since 1908 with a group of Florentine artists, including Carli and Settimelli, and had collaborated with them on an art review. As his family was poor, his chances to travel were very restricted: to have left Perugia for Milan, without adequate means, would have been almost impossible. Florence was relatively close to Perugia. His first contacts with Marinetti, Balla and others took place in Rome in 1911.

When he painted 'Explosion of Red on Green' his ideas were still rather confused, though he had a strong urge to break away from the stagnant 'ottocento' atmosphere which stultified the innovatory spirit of the young. He had no intention to make a Futurist painting as such (indeed the Futurists themselves were still at a tentative, exploratory stage at this date); this picture was made as an 'abstraction' of a landscape, a reaction against academism, and represented his personal break-through into a more radical kind of art.

(In his autobiographical essay published in Sartoris, op. cit., he makes it clear however that he was directly inspired by a saying of Balla's. A newspaper report of a discussion between Boccioni, Balla, Severini and others, quoted Balla as saying: 'We wish to paint, that is to say give form and colour to the "sensations" which everything in nature and human life arouses in us'. This idea made a great impression on Dottori, who pondered its implications; and he had it in mind when he painted this work. 'From it resulted a painting which was different from all those I had made before and which seemed to me to correspond in some degree to the phrase of Balla's').

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.176-8, reproduced p.176