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Massimo Campigli was born in Florence on July 4, 1895. In 1909 he moved to Milan, where he came into contact with the Futurist painters. After military service, Campigli moved to Paris in 1919. In Paris he worked for nine years as a journalist for Corriere della Sera, during which time he began to paint. His first one-man show took place in 1923 at the Galleria Bragaglia in Rome. He was initially drawn to Purism, Léger, the neoclassicizing works of Picasso and Metaphysical painting. He was profoundly affected by ancient art in 1928, when he saw the Etruscan collection at the Villa Giulia in Rome. His love of archaism and of hieratic and abstract form led him to find sources in Cretan, Pompeian and Coptic as well as Etruscan art. Campigli’s interest in ancient art may have been encouraged by his affiliation with Sette italiani di Parigi, the group be formed with de Chirico, Severini and others in 1929. This same year his works were exhibited in his first solo show in Paris, at the Galerie Jeanne Bucher.
During the thirties Campigli settled once more in Milan, where in 1933, with de Chirico, Achille Funi and Mario Sironi he executed murals, now destroyed, at the Palazzo dell’Arte: this was the first of his several mural projects. He showed in 1931, 1935 and 1939 at the Julien Levy Gallery in New York, a city he traveled to in 1935 and 1939. After a period of renewed residence in Paris, Campigli returned again to Italy, spending the war years in Venice and Milan.
His first one-man exhibition in a museum was held at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam in 1946 and he participated in the Venice Biennale in 1948, 1958, 1960 and 1962. Campigli illustrated numerous books, including Marco Polo’s Il Milione, 1942, and André Gide’s Thesée, 1948 , and wrote several texts of an autobiographical-critical nature. After 1949 Campigli divided his time among Paris, Milano, Rome and St. Tropez. Among his many one-man shows were presentations at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, the Gemeentemuseum, The Hague, and the Kunsthalle, Bern, in 1955, and the Palazzo Reale, Milan, in 1967. The artist died in St. Tropez on May 31, 1971.