Exposition Art Blog: Enrico Donati - Masters of Surrealism

Enrico Donati - Masters of Surrealism


 Enrico Donati studied economics at the Università degli Studi, Pavia, and in 1934 moved to the USA, where he attended the New School for Social Research and the Art Students League of New York. His first one-man shows were in New York in 1942, at the New School for Social Research and the Passedoit Gallery. At this stage he was clearly drawn to Surrealism. This was reinforced by meeting André Breton and coming into contact with Marcel Duchamp and the other European Surrealists in New York at the time.
"During the early 1940s, Donati made Surrealist paintings in an abstract biomorphic style that astonish the eye and boggle the mind. Trouble-fête (Killjoy), from 1944, is typical of his work in this early period. In this strange and intricate composition, weird protoplasmic entities loom up out of the darkness, some of the them glowing with bioluminescence like deep-sea creatures, others bathed in rainbow hues. The picture space is complex, seemingly three-layered: At the bottom of the canvas is the ocean floor, above it is a landscape receding into the distance, and above that is a black sky. It could be night on earth, or it could be the perpetual blackness of the interstellar void, but really it is inner space. As a glimpse into the unconscious, Trouble-fête is particularly persuasive because instead of stocking its mindscape with conventional pop-Freudian symbols, it confronts us with figures that are individual, idiosyncratic, and baffling.While the painting could be called figurative, Donati is using illusionistic space and carefully rendered surface detail in an essentially abstract way. His figures—more like the distended bladders of Bosch’s hell than anything that might show up to pose in a painter’s studio—at first sight may seem to resemble animals, plants, or people, but upon closer inspection the resemblance melts away. What Donati has given us is the experience of a dream, delivered with the classic Surrealist one-two punch of control and lack of control—polish carefully applied to the wild products of automatism."/artandantiquesmag.com/


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