Corrado Cagli. A Metamorphic Jewish Artist

Contribute by: Sarah Palermo, Art historian.

Corrado Cagli (Ancona 1910 – Roma 1976) was one of the most important protagonists of Italian art before the Second World War. His career is destined to record the first aversions, by the pro-racist press, at the beginning of 1936. February 23, 1936, the day of his 26th birthday is the year that marks the start of the “Jewish question” in the culture.

The Cagli 1947- 1959 exhibition at the Di Castro Gallery in Rome takes stock of an unprecedented cycle of his works that has been little seen and which is now being punctuated precisely with the modulars – and aims to tell and deepen the metamorphic poetics that pervades the entire artistic career of this great Italian artist. His metamorphic poetics is theorized by his art since the beginning of the 1930s and developed since the 1940s in the study of Jungianpsychology The Cagli Exhibition is a large cycle of works that have been created using very different techniques.

Geometry is the basis of these drawings and highlights the ability to attack the surface with a color that also comes from the personal artistic partnership with the artist Ettore Colla which will last about twenty years until Cagli’s death. The theme of the tarot is inspired by the use of cards as a source of artistic inspiration and an opening towards “new dimensions” and new research horizons. In the exhibition we can see important examples of this theme with the works Ruota della Fortuna and Il Bagatto come Arlecchino. For this reason, through the study of his artistic interest can emerge a period of great experimentation which has not yet been sufficiently treated by the critics.

However, no scholar has investigated the role played by the cards in the production of the Italian artist, despite the fact that the photographs of a series of 12 completely unpublished drawings on paper are kept in the Cagli archive in Rome, corresponding to the 12 cards of the tarot deck and the importance of esotericism in Cagli’s poetics influence exercised on the young Corrado by the writer Massimo Bontempelli, friend of Alberto Savinio and Giorgio de Chirico, Gottuso, who represented the attempt to adopt surrealistic experiments in Italian art, which he defined as magical realism, which he was a nephew.

Exibition: Piazza di Spagna 5

Alberto Di Castro, Denise Di Castro, Gian Enzo Sperone, Yuri Tagliacozzo, “Cagli 1947-1959”, Silvana Editoriale, Roma 2023.


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