Art Chronicles: Bice Lazzari at the Estorick

As I mentioned in an earlier post, back in October, the Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art in north London, is one of my favourite galleries to visit. Located in a restored and expanded Grade II Georgian town house in Canonbury, it has six small galleries on three floors, a neat, well-stocked shop and an excellent little café that opens out onto a courtyard in the right seasons. And I can get there easily and reasonably safely in these Covid times on London Overground, just half a dozen or so stops, thus avoiding the Tube; or, should I choose to sign up for a lengthy tour of Finsbury Park and Holloway, by the number 4 bus.

The heart of the permanent collection is from the first half of the last century: de Chirico, Morandi, Modigliani and a host of Italian Futurists. The two ground floor spaces are currently given over to a fascinating exhibition devoted to the work of the Italian artist Bice Lazzari – Bice Lazzari Modernist Pioneer – following her development as she progressed through various modes of abstraction that finally took her, via the Movimento Arte Concreta and the influence of Piet Mondrian, towards a minimalist abstraction that calls to mind Agnes Martin – though, perhaps, with a stronger use of colour.

Bice Lazzari: Untitled, 1970. Graphite & Pastel on paper
Bice Lazzari: Acrylic No. 5, 1975. Acrylic on canvas

It’s interesting that the first piece on display here, Abstraction on a Line, No 2, from 1925, created with pencil and pastel on paper, seems, with hindsight, to be marking out, in perhaps a tentative manner, the direction Lazzari’s work will take several decades later.

Bice Lazzari: Abstraction on a Line, No. 2, 1925. Pencil & pastel on paper.

Before that could happen, there was a living to be earned … “when my father died in 1928 I had to face life on a practical level and so, rather than walking around with a painting under my arm, I took a loom and started making applied art (fabrics, scarves, bags, belts, carpets) in order to continue living in the climate I so adored – namely, freedom.”

Bice Lazzari: Handwoven Bag & Belt, 1929
Bice Lazzari: Cushion, Hand-sewn fabric, 1930

In addition to similar woven items, Lazzari worked with architects, making decorative panels and designing mosaics, often working closely with the Ernesto Lapadula studio in Rome; she designed jewellery and the decoration of the renovated Pizzeria Capri. She did what an artist has to do to make a living.

But now, perhaps, one more late piece to finish …

Bice Lazzari: White Sequence – Acrylic No. 4, 1975. Acrylic on canvas

Look, go if you can, if you think you might be interested; it’s on till April 24th. And there’s always the café ….

Art Chronicles: My Estorick Day Out

The Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art is one of my favourite small galleries in London, easy to reach via public transport, rarely over-crowded, and with a very nice Italian café. https://www.estorickcollection.com

Their current show features all of the hundred-plus pieces in the collection – paintings, sculptures, prints and drawings – which was started by Eric & Salome Estorick in the period after WW2 and housed, as now, in a Georgian house off Canonbury Square in north London. Unsurprisingly heavy on Futurism, it features work by, amongst others perhaps less well-known, de Chirico, Modigliani and Morandi.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. The overground train from Gospel Oak [80% masked, all socially distanced] got me to Highbury & Islington well before the gallery’s 11.00 a.m. opening and I remembered a rather nice coffee shop a short distance along Upper Street that I was introduced to by the writer John Williams – Benita Bakery. https://www.benitabakery.co.uk Rather nice being something of an understatement. The coffee was excellent as was the home-baked pain au raisin, the staff efficient and friendly, and I sat comfortably for twenty minutes or so, re-reading yet again Peter Temple’s excellent Truth.

Once the Estorick was open and I could begin to work my way through its galleries, I remembered that one of my greatest pleasures whenever I visit [yes, all right, apart from the café] is the interior of the building itself along with its furniture.

Of the work on display, if I had to choose one piece that was outstanding it would be Medardo Rosso’s 1895 sculpture, Woman with a Veil.

Made from melted wax over plaster, the woman’s face slowly emerges from beneath her veiled hat, as the note from MoMA, its usual home, suggests, “extending outwards to suggest the air and space around her” in the “dusty, bustling streets of nineteenth-century Paris.”

Also impressive were a series of small ‘still life’ sculptures, made by the artist Paul Coldwell during the recent lockdown, in dialogue with the etchings and drawings of Giorgio Morandi.

Beautiful work!

All in all, a really enjoyable visit, rounded off by lunch in the café, ‘home made’ tortellini followed by an truly excellent espresso – strong but not in the least degree bitter. Just the right accompaniment for a few more chapters of Peter Temple – a man who knew his coffee and so much else besides.

McMinn and Cheese

A chip on my shoulder you can see from space

Salt and Stone Poetry

Writers & writing: books, movies, art & music - the bits & pieces of a (retiring) writer's life

thebluemoment.com

A blog about music by Richard Williams

Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise

Writers & writing: books, movies, art & music - the bits & pieces of a (retiring) writer's life

Woody Haut's Blog

Writers & writing: books, movies, art & music - the bits & pieces of a (retiring) writer's life

IRRESISTIBLE TARGETS

Writers & writing: books, movies, art & music - the bits & pieces of a (retiring) writer's life