Ardengo Soffici

Garden by the Sea

ca. 1933


Soffici was born in Rignano sull'Arno (Florence) in 1879. In 1892, at the age of thirteen, he moved to Florence with his family. Due to the death of his father, at nineteen, he had to start work at a lawyer's office. He also briefly attended the Florence Academy until he left for Paris in 1900. Here he met Guillaume Apollinaire and through him, Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Max Jacob, and André Salmon. In 1907, he settled in Italy and the following year began as a regular contributor, along with Papini, to Prezzolini's journal La Voce, for which he designed the masthead and served as the art critic. From the pages of La Voce, in 1910, he harshly criticized Futurism. In 1909 Ignoto toscano (The Unknown Tuscan), his first literary work, was published; in 1910 his book Arthur Rimbaud appeared, and in 1912 the autobiographic novel Lemmonio Boreo.

Along with Papini he broke from La Voce in 1913 and founded the magazine Lacerba, which became the mouthpiece of Florentine Futurism, although he maintained his distance from Marinetti and his commitment gradually began to wane. In 1914, Soffici published Cubismo e futurismo (Cubism and Futurism) and in the following year, BIF & ZF + 18, a text inspired by Apollinaire's Calligrammes. Lacerba supported Italy's Interventionist movement and Soffici volunteered. He later published his war-time experiences in the autobiographic novels Kobilek (1918) and La ritirata del Friuli (1919).

After the war, Soffici advocated a return to solid and "classical" principles and values. He contributed to Valori Plastici, in which in 1922 was published the first monograph on Soffici, written by Carrà. Soffici served as a father figure to the younger artists and critics of Il Selvaggio and L'Italiano, where he also published articles supporting the ruralist and nationalistic movement of Strapaese. Soffici became a leading theorist of a Fascist art, publishing his essays in the collection Periplo dell'arte - Richiamo all'ordine in 1928, where he attempted a reconciliation between the avant-garde and the modes and values of a "rappel à l'ordre." His own work consisted of still lifes, landscapes and peasant scenes from his native Tuscany, rendered in a conservative naturalist-realist style. Soffici died in Forte dei Marmi (Lucca) in 1964.

credits: Hangar Design Group