'He was - and this was his originality, even, doubtless, his greatness - he was the bridge between Futurism and Cubism' (Bernard Dorival, quoted in in Futurism
(exhibition catalogue), Tate Modern, London, 2009, p. 242). Severini’s pioneering geometric compositions formed part of the artist’s fervent creative research into the language of Cubism. It was in 1916, the year of Boccioni’s death, that Severini moved decisively from Futurism to Cubism and later entered the renowned Parisian collector, dealer, and publicist Léonce Rosenberg’s celebrated Galerie de l'Effort Moderne. The gallery opened in January 1918 on 19, rue de la Baume and showcased the most important artists of French Cubism, from Gris to Braque and from Metzinger to Picasso. Severini focussed his art on what he called the ‘universal movement’ through Cubism, in which he constructed and deconstructed physical space in a rational and geometrical practice. The artist assimilated the lessons of Cubism and imbued his compositions with a formal and analytical approach, trying to achieve a geometric order through the deconstruction of elements. In the present work, numerous trompe-l’œil
are achieved through the use of motifs that have now become icons of cubist art: musical scores, instruments, cards and papier-collés. Abstraction
is a significant example of Severini’s practice from 1918 and was exhibited in the important exhibition in New York’s Brooklyn Museum in 1926 during the International Exhibition of Modern Art
This important work was formerly owned by the celebrated collector Gino Nibbi, born in Fermo, Italy, who moved to Melbourne in 1928 and was instrumental in bringing Modern art to Australia. It was the painter Osvaldo Licini who introduced Nibbi to the international avant-garde, and upon Nibbi’s arrival in Australia, this new cultural milieu prompted him to open the Leonardo Art Shop. Nibbi, a curious intellectual, travelled extensively, acquiring avant-garde art through his travels. It was in 1937 that he visited Berlin, Colonge and Paris. Desmond O’Grady recalls that he purchased paintings by Severini, Kisling and De Chirico and recounts the anecdote that ‘De Chirico wrote Nibbi a letter, to dupe customs officials, saying that he was making a gift but, in fact, the canvas cost 300 lire’ (Correggio Jones and the runaways, Australia, 1995, p. 81). The present work formed part of his celebrated collection and is a prime example of Severini's most iconic compositions.