Ritratto di donna.
Il sogno degli anni Venti
e lo sguardo di Ubaldo Oppi

Vicenza, Basilica palladiana, 6 December 2019 - 13 April 2020
Curated by Stefania Portinari

In the Europe that emerged from the First World War, women were beginning to carve out a new role for themselves as they became increasingly independent, seductive and forward-looking. They wore their hair and skirts shorter, while exerting a growing influence in society and culture. Coco Chanel changed the fashion world, Amelia Earhart flew across the Atlantic, and Josephine Baker mesmerised Parisian audiences with her dancing.

In Italy, too, a fresh wind had risen, and a new kind of woman, so different from her pre-war counterpart, was magnetically portrayed by the painter Ubaldo Oppi. Having grown up in Vicenza, he trained in Vienna, Paris and Venice, before becaming an adoptive Milanese after being ‘discovered’ by art critics Margherita Sarfatti and Ugo Ojetti, who were seeking an ‘Italian style’ in art. But Oppi was not the only painter to portray the ‘new woman’. She also appeared in the paintings of Felice Casorati, Mario Sironi, Mario Cavalieri and Piero Marussig. Dominant figures of their age, the new women also featured in the gossip columns. They evoked a myth, that of the femme fatale and, as powerful as Amazons, they were muses portrayed in a spell-bindingly suspended world, immortalised through the pictorial values of a beguiling classicism.

The working group

The exhibition is part of a project to relaunch the Palladian Basilica in Vicenza and make it into a venue for exhibitions with an international scope.
The exhibition is curated by Stefania Portinari, professor of contemporary art at Ca’ Foscari University, Venice, aided by an advisory committee made up of Luca Massimo Barbero (Fondazione Giorgio Cini di Venezia), Alessandro Del Puppo (Università degli Studi di Udine), Nico Stringa (Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia), Valerio Terraroli (Università degli Studi di Verona), Gabriella Belli (Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia), Elena Pontiggia (Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera), Elisabetta Barisoni (Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia), Giuseppina Dal Canton (Università degli Studi di Padova), Sergio Marinelli (Università Ca' Foscari Venezia), Sileno Salvagnini (Accademia delle Belle Arti di Venezia).