Marisa Mori (1900 - 1985): Between Figurative & Futurist Art

Marisa Mori, Self-portrait, 1930, Oil on panel, 44 x 51 cm. Courtesy Laocoon Gallery

An exhibition online at Laocoon Gallery celebrates this successful Italian artist who embraced the Futurist movement before turning to figurative landscapes, portraits and still-life works.

Marisa Mori (Florence 1900 - 1985), to whom Galleria del Laocoonte has already dedicated two exhibitions in Turin and Rome, is a perfect example of the inexplicable oblivion into which supremely talented female artists often would fall. She was a precocious designer and almost entirely self-taught until her arrival, in 1925, at the school of Felice Casorati in Turin, where she quickly refined her innate artistic skills. She would immediately take part in exhibitions alongside the maestro, and art critics of the time instantly began commenting on her work, noting the qualities of the stroke, the composition and the colour. Continuing her activity as a painter in Casorati's school, her works were exhibited with ever increasing success and were purchased by, amongst others, the great collectors and patrons Riccardo Gualino and his wife Cesarina.

Mori's independent spirit alongside a desire to experiment and learn led her around 1930 to approach the Futurist movement. An old black and white photo portrays her proudly dressed as an aviator - overalls, cap and glasses - in the driving cockpit of a two-seater plane for acrobatic flights which would inspire Mori to the creation of her bright and "sensual" futurist works. She continued to compose these until the enactment of the Racial Laws, when she decided to distance herself from the futurist movement in protest, proceeding on a personal stylistic course with her figurative painting of landscapes, portraits and still life subjects.

Mori Marisa, La divisione meccanica della folla (Mechanical Division of the Crowd), 1933, oil on plywood, 71 x 100 cm. Courtesy Laocoon Gallery

In addition to painting she also worked for the theatre as a costume and set designer and even as an actress. The special value of her art in all realms - even sculpture - derives from her innate talent for drawing, as many remarkable sheets from her early training in Casorati's studio demonstrate. She had a dreamy realistic style and visionary futuristic ideas.

Of her vast work as a painter and draftswoman, only her futuristic production has aroused some interest in posterity, and even then it has been placed in a general group with the futurists, or with those of Tuscany in particular, or finally with that of the futurist women. Something is always better than nothing, but a monographic study that covers the whole of her work is still missing. In recent years Galleria del Laocoonte has conducted, from the archive of the heirs of Marisa Mori, a systematic study of the entire corpus of her drawings, for which a catalogue is currently being published.

Marisa Mori, Via Lanfranchi, 1928, oil on panel, 46 x 50 cm. Courtesy Laocoon Gallery

View Laocoon Gallery's online exhibition and see more of Marisa Mori's work here.