Mattia Jona, Master Drawings and Prints, Japanese Prints - Piazzetta Guastalla 5, 20122 Milan, Italy, tel (+39) 02 8053315

 Adolfo Wild, Arte Lunga Vita Breve


Etching and aquatint, 1923. Signed and titled in the plate A.WILDT. / ARTE LUNGA VITA BREVE. A fine impression pulled in 1923 with brownish ink and a rich plate-tone. The etching was made by Wildt to be printed on the leaflet of invitation to the opening of the exhibition of Giuseppe Guidi’s etchings at the Galleria la Vinciana in Milan on the 17th of March 1923. The leaflet was made up of a folded cardboard, the etching printed on the front cover; inside, on the right sheet, were printed the data of the exhibition and the list of the works by Guidi. Due to its ephemeral nature, just a few specimens of the leaflet have been preserved, and rarely complete of the second page as is our print. To the platemark 168 x 168 mm, the sheet measuring 183 x 181.
Our print is one of the few and rare examples of Wildt’s etchings pulled during the artist’s lifetime. In the market of the original etchings by him, in fact, some confusion has been created by the existence, in private hands, of a few original plates, which have been used, even recently, to pull impressions lacking of any justification of the edition.

Wildt was born in Milan into a poor family and in 1880, twelve years old, he entered the studio of Giuseppe Grandi, the leading sculptor of the Scapigliatura movement. From 1882 to 1887 he learnt to work marble in the studio of Federico Villa, while he attended the Brera Accademy from 1885 to 1886. From 1894 the German collector Franz Rose von Doehlau gave him an annual retaining fee in return for being offered first choice for each of his works. Protected by this arrangement, Wildt immersed himself in his work, becaming increasingly interested in symbolism and experimented with marble to produce effects of opalescent transparency. Rose’s death in 1912 forced Wildt to confront the art market. He was awarded the Principe Umberto prize in 1913, and this marked the beginning of his good fortune with the Italian critics. Wildt became Italy's leading symbolist sculptor, producing highly polished marbles of remarkable translucence. His religious sculpture frequently combines extreme refinement and mysticism. Wildt's style which derived in part from the study of late Gothic expressionistic sculpture, can also be related to the Vienna Secession. From 1895, Wildt's sculpture was included in many national and international exhibitions. Wildt received many commissions, particularly for funerary monuments. In 1921, he published L'arte del marmo, and, from 1921 to 1922, he ran his own art school in Milan, specialized in marble carving. The following year, Wildt was appointed Professor of Sculpture at the Brera Accademy, where Lucio Fontana and Fausto Melotti were among his most distinguished pupils. Wildt was backed by the journalist and critic Margherita Sarfatti and in 1925 joined the steering committee of the Novecento Italiano, participating in its major exhibitions of 1926 and 1929, as well as abroad.


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