Italian painter Giovanni Segantini
Italian painter Giovanni Segantini (1858-1899) – one of the leaders of the national symbolism in the visual arts, painted in the Pointillism technique (in which small, distinct dots of pure color are applied in patterns to form an image). Giovanni Battista Emanuele Maria Segantini was born in the village of Arco, South Tyrol, into the family of a merchant. After his father’s death in 1866 Giovanni remained in the care of his second wife and moved with her family to Milan. Seven-year-old orphan Segantini ran away and was later found living on the streets of Milan. For much of his early life he could barely read or write and finally learned both skills when he was in his mid-30s.
The talent for drawing manifested in Segantini early. In 1875-1877 he attended classes at the Brera Academy in Milan, he worked as assistant artist Luigi Tettamanzi, helping to paint the church, fulfilling the advertising signs. In 1878-1879, he also took lessons in painting from artists Serogati Luigi and Guido Carmignano, became close to the circle of masters of the younger generation of so-called “Scapigliatura (the “Disheveleds”), which included artists, poets, writers and musicians who sought to erase the differences between art and life. Among his closest friends at the time were Carlo Bugatti and Emilio Longoni, both of whom profoundly influenced his work and his interests.
Giovanni Segantini lived and worked in the Alpine mountain villages (Brianza, 1882-1886; Savognin 1887-1894; Maloja, 1895-1899), drawing their impressions of life of peasants and herdsmen. He developed his own method of picturesque divisionism – saturated, “beam” strokes on the canvas bed like spectral glare on the edge of reality and vision.
Bright and juicy details of landscape and genre firmly in his paintings combined with the typical symbolism attraction to occult themes. Being himself an amateur musician and composer he fond associations shaped painting and music. His style of painting was immediately acclaimed by audiences; Segantini received gold medals in Munich (for Midday in the Alps) and Turin (for Ploughing). The following year the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool purchased his major painting, The Punishment of Lust.
Secluded in the Swiss village of Maloja in the Engadine, constantly drew sketches en plein air. Nature and the connections of people to nature are the core themes of his art. After he moved to the mountains he wrote “I am now working passionately in order to wrest the secret of Nature’s spirit from her. Nature utters the eternal word to the artist: love, love; and the earth sings life in spring, and the soul of things reawakens.”
Giovanni Segantini loved his friend Carlo Bugatti’s sister Luigia Pierina Bugatti (1862–1938), he devoted all his life to her. They remained an unmarried couple, due to his stateless status. While he worked on his paintings Luigia (Bice) would read to him, and eventually he learned to read and write.
“I’ve got God inside me. I don’t need to go to church.” Giovanni Segantini died September 28, 1899 in Schafberg near Pontresina (Switzerland). His son Mario and his beloved Bice were with him at his death bed. Giovanni Segantini was buried in the small tombstone, the inscription on it: “Arte ed amore vincono il tempo” (“Art and Love conquers time”). In 1909 in St. Moritz (Switzerland) opened a personal museum of the artist. His letters and articles have been published in book form in 1910.