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Leo Longanesi, four male characters

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LEO LONGANESI (Bagnacavallo 1905 - Milan 1957) FOUR MALE CHARACTERS SPROUTING THORNY BRANCHES FROM THEIR HEADS (An Allegorical Drawing)
Watercolour, with a pentimento regarding the heart at top, drawn on the verso of an architectural engraving of the 19th century; signed Longanesi with fountain pen. 351 x 267 mm.
This drawing has been published in the magazine Il Borghese in 1957 (n. 41, 10 October 1957), an issue entirely devoted to celebrate its founder and director, just after his death. Longanesi founded Il Borghese in 1950 and, during the seven years of his direction, the magazine was a breeding ground of the best journalistic culture of the political center in post-war Italy.
The charm of this drawing is certainly also in his mysterious character. No writing helps us to explain it, and no explanation was provided by the magazine when published it. We can't identify the four severe male characters, from whose heads, similar to vases, thorny twigs sprout, going to lap a deep red heart. Certainly those twisted twigs constitute a threat to the heart, and it is interesting to note that in the first version, covered by the pentimento, those twigs totally surround the heart, while in the final version only lap it.

A pioneer of modern journalism, Leo Longanesi was a writer, a graphic designer, a painter and a filmmaker too. He was the man who invented Italy's first illustrated magazine, Omnibus, in 1937 and who founded, in 1946, the Milanese publishing house which still bears his name. A great communicator, Longanesi believed in a new mass culture built on the power of image, headline and typographical clarity. This eclectic and genial personality, is best remembered nowadays not so much for his works as his often vitriolic wit – a lash which politicians, friends and even family feared.

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