Alberto Martini (1876–1954)

An Italian Modernist painter, engraver, pastellist, and illustrator, Alberto was born at Oderzo, and was the son of the painter, Giorgio Martini. His family moved to Treviso in 1879 where his father taught drawing, and it was under him that Alberto began to learn to paint and draw. His father was the only teacher Alberto ever had, and he encouraged him to study from life and to copy paintings of old masters. His earlier subjects are mostly botanical and animal studies, and landscapes. In 1895, he began to illustrate literary works, and it was in this field that he dedicated most of his career. He exhibited his works regularly until the end of the 1920s, both in Italy and abroad, and his range of work, from elegant to macabre, received mixed reviews from critics. Alberto's drawings were executed in an elegant and detailed black and white in a morbid and macabre vein. This was later replaced with a more satirical and mordant tone, that targeted social injustice, the Catholic Church, militarism, and political zealots that he saw as being responsible for the devastation of Europe. Dissatisfied with Italian critics, he moved to Paris in 1928, but returned to Milan in 1934 due to his precarious financial situation. His most notable works are his illustrations for works by Poe and Dante. By the end of his career he had completed a very large catalogue of art works, predominantly of horror, grotesque, and fantasy content and style, some of a particularly terrifying nature which were said to be expressions of his own nightmares and visions. His style was clearly influenced by Albert Durer, Joseph Sattler, Lucas Cranach, and Pieter Bruegel, amongst others, and he was regarded some as one of the precursors of Surrealism. He was awarded an honorary diploma by the Museum of Fine Arts in Nancy in 1946, and he had been invited by the French surrealists to join their group, although he declined. Alberto continued to work until his death, which took place at Milan.









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