The Artist Birthday Series

Gino Severini

Today’s Artist Birthday: Gino Severini

Gino Severini (7 April 1883 – 26 February 1966) was an Italian painter and a leading member of the Futurist movement. For much of his life he divided his time between Paris and Rome. He was associated with neo-classicism and the “return to order” in the decade after the First World War. During his career he worked in a variety of media, including mosaic and fresco. He showed his work at major exhibitions, including the Rome Quadrennial, and won art prizes from major institutions.

Gino Severini, age 30, at the ...., 19..
Gino Severini, age 30, at the opening of his exhibition at the Marlborough Gallery in London, 1913

Severini was born into a poor family in Cortona, Italy. His father was a junior court official and his mother a dressmaker. He studied at the Scuola Tecnica in Cortona until the age of fifteen, when he was expelled from the entire Italian school system for the theft of exam papers. [TML note: There is some evidence that in fact, Severini took the fall for a friend of his who was from a well-to-do, “better” family. The other boy and Gino were to remain friends their entire lives. But more about that another time…] For a while, Gino worked with his father; then in 1899 he moved to Rome with his mother. It was there that he first showed a serious interest in art, painting in his spare time while working as a shipping clerk. With the help of a patron of Cortonese origins he attended art classes, enrolling in the free school for nude studies (an annex of the Rome Fine Art Institute) and a private academy. His formal art education ended after two years when his patron stopped his allowance, declaring, “I absolutely do not understand your lack of order.”

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