Carlo Franza

Remembering Walter Lazzaro, almost ten years after his death, means shedding further light on one of the most important and lively artists of Italian painting between the first and the second post-war periods. An interesting figure both from a pictorial and human point of view for the strong characterisation of his choices concerning art, life and teaching. Walter Lazzaro, born in Rome in 1914, had his first one-man show in the capital's Palazzo Torlonia in 1932 and ended his artistic activity, after hundreds of exhibitions, in 1989 shortly before his death that occurred on March 3 of the same year. His work has been analysed  and dealt with by some of the most illustrious critics, from De Chirico to Carluccio, from Cortenova to De Grada, from Franza to Sgarbi. Walter Lazzaro's painting is inspired by the most cultivated history of Italian art, brings together past and present, grafts innovations on tradition, gives peculiarity to the most engaging themes, from landscapes to figures, through a craft that in him was always imbued with a poetry and a sensitivity that few artists ever managed to show. Lazzaro lived in a sea landscape as a young Ulysses searching for his lost homeland. Mondadori published lately the first annotated catalogue and, between March and April 1998, the Galleria Lazzaro by Corsi will set up a special exhibition entitled “The threshold of silence” or “Twenty-one artists for Walter Lazzaro”, supported by a wonderful catalogue that includes all the published works; masters of contemporary art, painters and sculptors, both Italian and foreign, who in the poetics of silence - highlighted in their works too - decided to pay homage to one of the masters of Brera's Academy. So there are Addamiano, the sculptor Roberto Bricalli, among Italy's young  talented artists are Vito Melotto, Roberto Rampinelli, Fujio Nishida, Marisa Settembrini, Ariel Soulé, Salvatore Stedicato of Lecce's Academy of Fine Arts, just to name a few. What brings them together is the special theme of loneliness, both external and internal, and the desire to get together to give a pretext to their poetics and pictorial expression. This deeply-felt exhibition mostly highlights Walter Lazzaro who gave a special interpretation to classicism in art, and to the absolute making of the painting in which giving a meaning to silence meant giving a strong metaphor of life and a sharp interior warning. Lazzaro's painting is a rare case in which his works can be put in a frame in our century. His name must be placed near De Chirico, Sironi and Carrà's. Few artists have managed to give a voice and a hope to the meaning of life more than Lazzaro. And restlessness spreading through the smells of the pines' resin and the huts by the sea is a sign of that infinite and that thirst for knowledge that puts man above the entire creation. And all that religiousness lying in the silences that Lazzaro paints in his canvases! There is no human sign, no signs of life in this landscape although life runs inside the air and the space wrapping everything in those violets and blues, those greys and those absolute whites. However, the choice of this metaphysical poetics, of this amazement sang by poets like Leopardi, Montale, Eliot or Blake, is evident only as from the early years of the second post-war period, after the lager experience. Three are the moments that mark his intense artistic journey in fact: the metaphysical one we've just mentioned, where the sea means light and space, where he makes its soul sing and the heart of its tone particles fibrillate. The second moment is related to war. Works like “Pali del lager”, a 1944 oil-painting sized 50x70, whose dimension of the poetics and light of the tragedy help explain the meaning of a painting dug into an aching soul, belong to such period. This second moment is certainly consistent with the very last one where silence also becomes loneliness. Lazzaro's first period, however, is that of the Roman school, of the climate where the chromatic hyper-qualification is a distinguishing feature of the landscapes of the Roman countryside, Rome open city, the Rome of Stendhal and of D'Annunzio's Roman Elegies. Walter Lazzaro's figure is really a capital one for art in this second twentieth century, especially because in order to paint Lazzaro had to make life and painting coincide.  

Walter Lazzaro 
Autobiography - 1981  

He was born in Rome on December 5, 1914. An emotional and very shy child with a natural bent for drawing, at 14 he won  and held a “government scholarship” for four years offered as a prize for the students of the Artistic Lyceum-Academy in Rome. In 1933 he qualified as a drawing teacher. In 1935 he began teaching painting at Marino's Art Institute. In 1937, when he was still attending the Academy, he was awarded by Italy's Royal Academy and a few days later he learnt he was to be expelled from all the schools for the intolerance he showed towards the kind of teaching of the period.  
A “troublesome” figure, he deserted the pre-military course of the Fascist University Group and in 1938 was sent away from Arezzo's Cadets Officers course. He was given a teaching post at Rome's Artistic Lyceum in 1939.  
He won a prize for painting at Venice's XXIII Biennale Internazionale d'Arte in 1942. He was “sent” for the first time to Rome's Quadriennale Nazionale in the same year.  
He devoted to films and also acted in some of them. Alessandro Blasetti appreciated his talent and Enrico Guazzoni chose him to play Raphael in the movie “La Fornarina” with Lida Baarowa. After the war and the captivity he resumed teaching. He became Art Expert for Rome's Tribunal in 1950. In 1958 he founded the “Poets and Painters Movement”. In 1962, along with Carrà, Funi, Guidi, Ordavo and Pieraccini, he set up the exhibit “Settimana d'arte della Versilia”, later called “Marguttiana” in Forte dei Marmi. In 1968 he held a teaching post at Carrara's Accademia; in 1970 he organised and ran experimentally the new Public Artistic Lyceum in Novara. He began teaching painting at Bologna's Fine Arts Academy in 1971 and at Brera's Academy in Milan in 1977.  
In 1980, when he turned 65, he was forced to stop teaching because he had been doing so for more than forty years, despite he repeatedly asked to continue his job. He did not accept that a Democratic Republic that is said to be “based on work” could waste and mortify someone's affection, love and desire to continue one's work.  
He consistently decided to refuse a decoration that Italy's President of the Republic, Mr Pertini, wanted to give him and continued to wait for understanding members of the Parliament to offer Academies' professors the opportunity to teach until their efficiency diminished. His works can be found in Rome's Gallery of Modern Art, in Florence's Palazzo Pitti, in Rome's National Gallery of Modern Art, at the National Cabinet of prints at Rome's Farnesina, in Vicenza's Civic Museum and in a large number of private collections.  

Walter Lazzaro's works are exclusively exhibited at the Galleria Lazzaro by Corsi, Via Broletto, 39 - 20121 Milan. Telephone and fax: 02-8052021.  

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