Felice Carena


Gallerie d'Italia - Milano


From 17 May to 29 September 2024


Full price €10, reduced price €8; special reduction €5 for Intesa Sanpaolo Group customers and under-26s; free admission for pass holders, schools, under-18s and Intesa Sanpaolo Group employees.


From 17 May to 29 September 2024, Gallerie d'Italia - Milano will be hosting the Felice Carena exhibition, dedicated to one of the most important yet least known artists of the historic 20th century. The exhibition is curated by Luca Massimo Barbero, Virginia Baradel, Luigi Cavallo and Elena Pontiggia.

Marking the 145th anniversary of his birth, the exhibition aims to reconstruct the artistic career of the great painter who, born in Turin but Florentine and Venetian by adoption, was regarded as one of the foremost European masters of 20th century up until the 1940s, noted for his prolific output inspired by his pictorial, luminist and poetic research. Over one hundred works will be on display, including some of the artist's masterpieces, now conserved in public and private collections in the cities where the painter lived and worked (Turin, Rome, Florence and finally Venice), as well as a number of important and eye-catching works that have never been seen before.

The exhibition illustrates Carena's career and achievements throughout the first half of the 20th century, his continuous experimentation, ranging from symbolism to expressionism, always seeking to create a dialogue with the classical and Renaissance tradition. As a young man, he was interested not only in Nordic luminism but also in the pre-Raphaelites and symbolism. On display will be his highly sculptural works of the 1910s, his much more abstract and volumetric compositions from the 1920s - such as The Apostles and The Pergola - through to the 1933 work Summer (The Hammock), regarded as one of his greatest masterpieces, and his religious paintings of the Italian post-war period.

Felice Carena continued to maintain his unique sense of individuality compared to other Italian artists of the time. This can been seen in his great “late” masterpieces, dramatic and splendid in equal measure, and his high-impact religious works, like the Deposition of 1939, from the Vatican Museums, which shaped the path of modern Christian art.

In the post-war period he chose to isolate himself in the city of Venice where he formed a deep and intimate relationship with some of his patrons such as Gilberto Errera and Vittorio Cini. After leaving the Florence Academy of Fine Arts in 1945, Carena focused on still lifes and religious themes, as can be seen in the important series of drawings from the Giorgio Cini Foundation, and the extraordinary and dramatic Adam and Eve in earthy, expressionist tones, both of which are exhibited at the Intesa Sanpaolo Gallerie d'Italia in Milan specially for this occasion.

The artist made his name as a very young man, enjoying lots of success and positive reviews and taking part in major Italian art exhibitions and many Venice Biennale shows. The exhibition at the Gallerie d'Italia in Milan follows on from the last comprehensive anthology dedicated to the artist in Venice in 2010.

Through six sections, each dedicated to a specific period of the artist's life - Between Turin and Rome; The Roman Period; Between Rome and Florence; Theatre; Portraits and Still Life; Religious Paintings and Drawings - the exhibition highlights the common denominator of all Carena's works: the spasmodic search for light within objects. A light that does not caress bodies but emanates from within them, becoming “form” itself.

The exhibition catalogue is produced by Edizioni Gallerie d'Italia | Skira with texts by the curators and an analytical biography by Lorella Giudici.