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 Luigi Settanni  (1908 - 1984)

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Lived/Active: Pennsylvania / Italy      Known for: abstract figurative painting

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Luigi Settanni
from Auction House Records.
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Luigi Settanni's paintings have been compared with those of Renoir, Cezanne, Matisse and Manet.  A protege of Albert C. Barnes, the famous collector and founder of the Barnes Foundation in Merion, Pennsylvania, Settanni created works in the post-impressionistic style, paintings that one critic characterized as full of joie de vivre. Many are in private and public collections around the world.  Barnes himself purchased eleven of Settanni's paintings, all of which now hang permanently in the Barnes Foundation, perhaps the greatest collection of impressionistic and post-impressionistic painting in America.

Settanni spent his life in the world of art.  Born in Italy in 1908, he began to paint as a child.  He studied and painted in the museums of Europe before his family emigrated to America in the 1920's.  After graduation from the Philadelphia Museum School, now the University of the Arts, he enrolled for study at the Barnes Foundation.  His studies of aesthetics there occupied him for years.

While he studied, he painted.  And his paintings caught the eye of Dr. Barnes.  Barnes took a great interest in the artistic development of the student.  He saw to it that Settanni was awarded scholarships that allowed him to study and paint his way across Europe. Then he was awarded scholarships that permitted him to study and paint in Morocco, Corsica, Mexico, Louisiana, Florida and, finally, to work for two years on the coast of Brittany.

In a foreward to the catalog for a one-man show at the Galerie Etienne Bignou in Paris, Barnes proved equally generous with his praise:
Luigi Settanni was born in Italy in 1908 and immigrated to Philadelphia in 1920.  At the age of 21 he entered the Barnes Foundation and completed four years’ course study of the old and modern masters.  That course comprises an objective study of the great traditions of painting, from the Byzantines to the work of the leading contemporaries, thus showing the continuity of traditions and how great the artists of each period utilized the contributions of their predecessors as points of departure for their own work.

Since 1933, Settanni has devoted his entire time to painting in France, Morocco, Corsica, Mexico and Florida.  He has interpreted the characteristics particular to each of these countries, impregnated with the insight and feelings of a sensitive artist.  The present exhibition represents works done on the Coast of Brittany during the past two years.

One is struck immediately by the quality, variety and individuality of Settanni’s color.  It’s sensuous quality is unusually pleasing, it’s combinations are harmonious, and it’s contrasts are highly dramatic.  The most significant characteristic of his color, however, it that it penetrates into and becomes an integral part of the total form: it determines the character of the linear elements, suffuses light and illumination and modeling.  In short his color is not only highly expressive as well as strikingly decorative but is the principal agent in organizing the composition. In these respects, he belongs to that rare class of painters represented at the best by Renoir.

For the serious student of painting, Settanni’s work has still another claim to distinction- an individuality born of his creative use of the contributions of other important painters: for example, Cezanne’s hatching of structural color to make volumes solid; broad generalized drawing derived from Daumier and Manet; daring contrasts of bright exotic colors reminiscent of Matisse; the thick richly-varied, unctuous pigment and superposed brush work characteristics of Soutine; the luminous, colorful, circumbient atmosphere of the impressionists.  One looks in vain however, in Settanni’s paintings for either an imitative or eclectic use of any of these traditional characteristics; each of the derived traits is creatively reworked and merged as an integral part of a new and individual expressive form.

Among the notable collections in which Settanni’s work is to found are those of the French Government (Musee du Jeu de Paume, Paris), Barnes Foundation, Mr. Charles Laughton, Dr.T.J. Honeyman, Director of the Glasgow Art Museum, Hon. William C. Bullitt, U.S. Ambassador to France, Madame Marie Cuttoli of Paris.

Albert C. Barnes

Information provided by Richard Herzig whose sources include the artist's website.

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