Home - Artists - Emilio  Longoni


Emilio  Longoni
   - (Seveso 1859-Milano 1932)   pastellista

For Longoni 1900 starts with the great  Sola!. A work made with blue, yellow, pink and orange hues, that has as a theme the pain of a mother suffering for the death of a child; a real chromatic revolution has been completed , a revolution that frees the Divisionism of this artist from the remaining brown hues, and underlines the renewal of his painting style, that now features for thin colour lines, that follows or build volumes.

The young woman, whose face is denied to us, is depicted in controluce, her hands twisted in a desperate gesture, lying on a simple dark  wooden table. The flowers that cover the grave, and the candle suggest the thematic interpretation of the scene, while conjugating the fidelity to the Realism with a controlled adhesion to Symbolism.

Sola!, for whose title Longoni is in debt with Ada Negri, who had published in” Fatalità” a lyric with the same title (1892), is a work that shares the instances of the last five years of the century, but it is also a modern work, in which the artist reveals a new attention for decorative details. Inside a framework  trompe-l'oeil that Longoni squares with pastello, it is to be noticed the happy descriptive insisting upon the ebony and ivory , metal and leather chair, a chair twice repeated­, made in the artisan laboratory of  Carlo Bugatti, and that was an element of furniture  of the studio – house of  Longoni. It is still the black table with the motive with wolf teeth, the tapestry with geometrical flowers, details of reality but that acquire a new meaning for their importance in the whole scene.

The technique of the pastello, fundamental in the development of our  Divisionism, was by that time handled at the limit of virtuosism, while respecting at the same time the technique of colour division, with which Longoni dealt with the landscape between light and darkness : look at the shadow of the chair, the transparences in the curtains, painted with a thick texture that sometimes follow the line of the drawing, like in the dress of the mother and in her hair in controluce, or that become colourful and vibrating dust, like in the glimpse of landscape beyond the glass and in the decorated tapestry.

Since the first years of 1900 Longoni showed he had deeply understood the peculiar balances of high mountain landscape. Here it became different the perception of the time, of the space, of the light. As true climbers know, on a high level , time is enlarged by the effort needed to walk for a few metres, and enlarged is the space, too. Colours change, and  from vivid and neat colours, in a dustless and vapour less air, they melt in a range of soft colours, from light grey, to light blue, to pink, in an unreal atmosphere. Longoni became master of the rhythm of mountains in works such as  Alba, while geared towards the observation and the objective delivering of landscape, translated with a complete handling of the principles of  Divisionism, that was by that time an obedient linguistic instrument that developed the naturalistic data in symbols, the beauty of uncontaminated nature in universal timeless value.

To the rare visitors who, at the end of his life, Longoni welcomed in his studio, he confessed that his paintings were never finished: he kept on elaborating, for a long time, obsessed by the deepness of vision, as if the support of the cloth and the space of the object  painting where no longer enough. He repeated that it was necessary to go beyond the canvas, to be able to imagine oneself dived in the landscape, au de là of the painted surface.

At a certain moment, when Segantini e Pellizza were dead at the beginning of the century, Divisionism was considered  avanguarde, Attilio Pusterla had emigrated to America, also Sottocornola had died in  1917 and Morbelli in 1919, whereas Previati e Nomellini had diverted towards decoration and D’Annunzio influence,  and Vittore Grubic had left his activity as a painter, only  Longoni stayed on to carry to the final consequences the experiences that had had a common theoretical origin.

( Translate by Irene De Angelis Curtis )