Erica Ravenna

Leoncillo Leonardi


( Spoleto 1915 – Rome 1968)

 In 1935 Leoncillo moved to Rome where he attended the Academy of Fine Arts. He met De Libero and Cagli, inspirers of the La Cometa gallery, meeting place for younger and less compromised artists with regime art: Mario Mafai and Antonietta Raphael , Corrado Cagli, Mirko and Afro Basaldella, Pericle Fazzini, Marino Mazzacurati. In 1939 he moved to Umbertide (Umbria) where he worked with ceramics, a technique that will remain a constant in his production. Among the major works of the early Roman period, we mention the mythological "monsters": the Harpy, the Siren, the Hermaphrodite, the St. Sebastian (Rome, National Gallery of Modern Art); and again the Suoners and the Four Seasons. These are polychrome glazed earthenware, molded from the inside to obtain swollen volumes, with a soft appearance, where the glazes give sudden flashes that light up the color of skilful tonality. In 1940, at the invitation of Giò Ponti, he participated in the VII Triennale di Milano. At the end of 1941, after having avoided the attendance of the course for official students at the time of the call to arms, he published in Milan a collection of short poems, the Bestiary. He took part in the Resistance and after the Liberation he exhibited with Cagli, Guttuso, Mafai, Mirko and others in the roman exhibition Art against barbarism, in 1944, winning the first prize with two versions of the Roman mother killed by the fascists. In 1947 he joined the New Front of the Arts with Corpora, Franchina, Fazzini and Turcato, with whom he exhibited at the Venice Biennale in 1948. In 1949 he made his first solo exhibition at the Galleria del Fiore in Florence, presented by Roberto Longhi. In 1956, following a profound ideological crisis, he resigned from the Communist Party and began a severe revision of his work over the last decade. In 1957 he exhibited at the "Tartaruga" by Plinio De Martiis, a new production decidedly oriented in an informal sense. His bright colors and the control of plastics and enamels, lead him to results of the highest level, in which he also deals with spatial themes not far from the experience faced by Lucio Fontana. The XXXIV Venice Biennale dedicates him a personal room in 1968, when he died prematurely in Rome.

 Among his most significant exhibitions, after his death, we remember: his anthology in Spoleto (1969) edited by Carandente, and an other one in 1979 at GNAM curated by Mantura; "Leoncillo's blood" (1990, Fortezza da Basso, Florence) curated by Mascelloni and Sargentini. He participated in "The Italian Metamorphisis" in 1994 by Celant at the Guggenheim in New York, and in 1995 at "Fra terra & cielo - Fontana, Melotti, Leoncillo" at the Torre Colombera in Gorla Maggiore (Varese).

Leoncillo Leonardi San Sebastiano bianco 1962 smalto e grès cm 33 x 13

Leoncillo Leonardi, San Sebastiano bianco, 1962
Enamel and sandstone
cm 33 x 13