Orizzonti di luce

Orizzonti di luce

Segantini e il paesaggio divisionista: natura, memoria e simbolo

20 maggio – 22 ottobre 2023


The exhibition investigates Giovanni Segantini’s particular predilection for nature and landscape, presenting works that span a broad chronology, starting with the trials conducted in Brianza and ending with Symbolist research.

Alongside the figure of Segantini, the exhibition presents nodal works by the respective protagonists of the Divisionist season, offering visitors the opportunity to compare different and personal investigations on the theme of landscape, in a path aimed at restoring an exemplary physiognomy of that research as well as the temperament of one of the most significant seasons of Italian art. Flanking the figure of Segantini are the names and works of the painters Giuseppe Pellizza da Volpedo, Angelo Morbelli, Emilio Longoni, Vittore Grubicy De Dragon, Luigi Conconi, Giovanni Sottocornola, Cesare Maggi, Carlo Fornara, Benvenuto Benvenuti, Guido Cinotti, Baldassarre Longoni, Carlo Cressini, Alberto Bonomi and Matteo Olivero.

Three thematic sections – Nature, Memory, Symbol – offer an overall view of the possible declinations of the landscape genre in those intense decades of pictorial elaboration, offering the possibility of approaching well-known and lesser-known works that are difficult to see and compare directly as a whole. Finally, one room is dedicated to the permanent collection of the Civic Gallery, with works by Giovanni Segantini from the Milanese and Brianza periods owned by the City of Arco and on long-term deposit at the Museum.


Starting with the exemplary case of Giovanni Segantini, the section focuses on the attraction of the nature and landscape, in their purest and most aestheticising sense, with particular reference to the mountain environment. The famous canvases Ritorno dal Bosco (1890) and Vacca bruna all’abbeveratoio (1892), conducted by the master of Arco through the use of Divisionist technique and both painted in Savognino, in the canton of the Grisons, Switzerland, open up a comparison with the works of Cesare Maggi, Carlo Fornara and Emilio Longoni. Looking at Segantini, the presence of these canvases highlights not only a community of intentions with artists of his time, but also the legacy left by Segantini to a younger generation of painters, who – sometimes with almost palm-sized re-propositions of his works, especially from a thematic point of view – place themselves in the wake of his lesson.


In line with the research carried out outside the Italian context, this section aims to offer a glimpse of those now mature investigations – attestable around the second half of the 1990s – that move away from the approach of pure and mimetic observation of the natural datum traditionally used in verist figurative proposals. For Divisionist painters, the landscape, in addition to representing a moment of stimulating reflection with respect to its luminous values, also became the privileged place to conduct symbolic and idealistic extrinsic expressions, according to a practice of taste and research that recurs in the international figurative context of the time. Nature and the environment became charged with synaesthetic and literary fascinations, leading the research of some authors towards a now anti-naturalistic rendering of the landscape. Segantini’s variations on Symbolist themes, around L’Amore alle Fonti della Vita (1899) and L’Angelo della Vita (1894-1896), are flanked by the works of artists such as Giuseppe Pellizza da Volpedo, Vittore Grubicy De Dragon, Matteo Olivero, Benvenuto Benvenuti and Alberto Bonomi, who invest the landscape with a profound symbolic resonance, showing the very capacity of painting to absolutize itself as the vehicle of an interiorised emotion.


This section is grounded in the thought and commitment of Vittore Grubicy De Dragon. In his writings, the critic, painter and dealer places the subjectivity of the artist at the centre of the figurative experience, attributing to nature the starting point for a cognitive process aimed at restoring not so much the natural real, but rather the emotion and feeling experienced in front of the motif. The landscape thus becomes a place of memory, capable of awakening sensations and emotions even far removed in time, which can only be reawakened through pictorial extrinsicisation. A quest that very often leads artists to privilege the rendering of transient environmental and luminous phenomena – dawns, twilight, sudden shadows – clearly evident in the canvases by Giovanni Sottocornola, Carlo Cressini and Luigi Conconi in this section. Temporary and changeable states of nature that reflect, by extension, the mysterious and unknowable sense of life as of human interiority itself. A context of investigation that combines with a profound reflection on the same tradition (also understood as a form of memory) of 19th-century landscape painting, which is re-read by the artists of this generation in the light of an exaltation of the decorative value of sign and colour.

Thanks to :

Confederazione Svizzera
Segantini Museum St. Moritz
Fondazione Otto Fischbacher – Giovanni Segantini Stiftung, St. Moritz

Comune di Saluzzo, Pinacoteca Matteo Olivero
GAM – Galleria d’Arte Moderna, Milano
GAM – Galleria di Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Torino
Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Alessandria

Brun Fine Art, Milano
Galleria Bottegantica, Milano
Gallerie Maspes, Milano
METS Percorsi d’arte
Quadreria dell’800, Milano
S. Agostino Casa d’Aste, Torino

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