Renato Guttuso Biography

(Italian Painter Whose Best-Known Works Include 'Flight from Etna', 'Crucifixion' and 'La Vucciria')

Birthday: December 26, 1911 (Capricorn)

Born In: Bagheria, Italy

Renato Guttuso was one of Italy’s most celebrated painters who left behind a body of work that would be the envy of most of the artists. He was also a member of the banned Italian Communist Party and this made him a direct enemy of the fascists, who ruled the country during his youth. Guttuso, born in a small town in Sicily, was a child prodigy, who started dating all his work like any professional artist would do when he was only 13 years old and although he did have to work in a few regular jobs in order to sustain himself; he was always a painter first. Guttuso became involved in a movement in Italy that tried to make sure that artists were able to express themselves freely through their art without any ideological shackles and after the Second World War, he was instrumental in promoting the work of artists whose works were denounced by the fascists. Guttuso was also a political person and as a member of the communist party, he continued to write against the fascists. His work reflected his ideals and created plenty of paintings that depicted the day to day lives of labourers and similar working class people.

Quick Facts

Italian Celebrities Born In December

Died At Age: 75


Spouse/Ex-: Mimise Dotti-Guttuso

children: Fabio Carapezza Guttuso

Born Country: Italy

Artists Italian Men

Died on: January 18, 1987

place of death: Rome, Italy

Cause of Death: Lung Cancer

Notable Alumni: University Of Palermo

More Facts

education: University Of Palermo

Childhood & Early Life
Renato Guttuso was born to Gioacchino Guttuso and his wife Giuseppina d’Amico on 26 December 1912 in a town called Bagheria located close to the city of Palermo in Sicily, Italy. His father was employed as a land surveyor but in his spare time he used to paint using water colours.
Guttuso showed extraordinary gifts as a painter right from the time he was a child and in fact he started putting dates and signatures on his works like professionals by time he was an early teen. His earliest paintings are dated some time in 1925 and his work was inspired by his surroundings.
Renato Guttuso went to a school in Palermo, from where he graduated high school and later on he studied fine arts at the University of Palermo. At the university, he learnt the intricacies of the working style of leading painters of the time like Vincent Van Gogh. After 1930, Guttuso became friends with the modernist painter Pippo Rizzo and that friendship helped him in getting a foot into the artistic circles in Milan.
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In 1931, Guttuso went to the Quadriennale, an exhibition in Rome that is hosted every four years. At the event he showcased his work inspired from nature and also formed a group with other Sicilian artists at the event. In Palermo, Guttuso formed the ‘The Group of Four’ with two sculptors and painter Lia Pasqualino after they started sharing the same studio for their respective work.
Guttuso along with five other artists from Sicily, hosted an exhibition in 1932 at a gallery in Milan. The exhibition was well received by the artistic community in the city. However, he could not make a living as a painter yet and had to take up the job of picture restorer at the Borghese Gallery in Rome and at another time at the gallery in Perugia.
The ‘Corrente’ artistic movement which promoted free thinking among artists devoid of any kind of ideological dogma appealed to Renato Guttuso and he became an active member of the movement. Guttuso moved to Milan in 1935 and stayed there for three years, during which he became a part of the Corrente di Vita, a cultural group. During his stay in Milan he painted ‘Fucilazione in Campagna’.
Renato Guttuso moved to Rome and made it his home in 1938. In Rome, he got acquainted with the leading artists of the time like Mario Mafai and Corrado Cagli among others. Guttuso produced his best work after moving to the capital of Italy and it all culminated in the painting ‘Crocifissione’. It is regarded as his best work, although the ruling fascists of the time denounced the painting in the severest terms.. He also joined the Communist Party at the time due to his strong anti-Fascist views.
Guttuso continued to work extensively through the Second World War years and following the end of the war in 1945, he established the ‘New Arts Front’ that aimed to promote the work of artists who had had a tough time under the fascists. He also completed the painting titled ‘Workers Resting’ at that time.
Guttuso was primarily involved in paintings that depicted the lives of the working class in Italy and in 1950 he painted the ‘Sicilian Labourer’ that was well received. Two decades later he would go on to publish a series titled ‘Il Dante di Guttuso’ after being inspired from the works of the artist Dante.
During the 1970s, Guttuso produced a series of paintings that were a tribute to feminine beauty and this was the period in which he showed a new facet of his talents as an artist. ‘La Vuccina’ was his most famous work from that time.
Major Works
Renato Guttuso was a painter of rare talent who produced plenty of breathtaking works of art in a career that started when he was only 13 and his most important work was ‘Crocifissione’ which not only exposed the futility of war but also enraged the fascists he despised due to the overly religious imagery of the painting.
Awards & Achievements
In 1950, Renato Guttuso was bestowed with the World Council of Peace Prize.
In 1972, he was awarded with the Lenin Piece Prize.
Personal Life & Legacy
Renato Guttuso got married in the year 1956 to Mimise Dotti; who also modelled for him. The couple did not have any children.
He died on 18 January 1987, in Rome, at the age of 75, due to lung cancer.

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