"The Lumberjacks" Circa 1950's
Pierre Ambrogiani (France, 1905-1985)
Oil on canvas
27 x 22 1/2 (frame)
Self-taught artist from a very young age, influenced by Seyssaud and Chabaud, Pierre Ambrogiani defined himself as a “gourmet of colour.” He was encouraged in his beginnings by Antoine Serra who lent him his studio. In 1936, during the inauguration of the Maison de la Culture in Marseille, he met Picasso who became one of his friends. Ambrogiani had his first success in 1938 when the Museum of Fine Arts in Marseille bought one of his paintings.
A very popular and particularly colorful character from Marseille, he travelled the countryside with his car which doubled as his studio, painting en plein air. He moved into a studio on the Quai Rive Neuve in Marseille in 1943.
Renowned for his brightly colored palette and generous use of material, he painted landscapes of the South-the people of beloved countryside-nudes, still lifes of fish and fruit, portraits, etc. He was also a prolific engraver of numerous plates for illustrations. Perhaps because was at one time a postman in Marseille, in 1961, he was awarded with design for a postage stamp. In 1962, he decorated the Immaculate Conception Church in Marseille with frescoes and stained glass. His works reveal a modern Provence, where forms dissolve into color.
Over the years, Pierre Ambrogiani became renowned in France as the leader of the Marseille School of the 40s and 50s. Ultimately, he became a personality of international stature, carrying the South of France’s colors across continents. His palette, blue, lilac, madder, sulfur, green, and orange, follows the colors mentioned in 1888 by Vincent Van Gogh.
Stripping form and drawing, the artist gets closer to an abstraction, willingly figurative. The seemingly unfinished aspect of his paintings eventually imposes an innovative vision of the Provençal landscape. The auteur Marcel Pagnol said of him, “When watching his still lifes, farms, and reapers, it is not ridiculous to pronounce the name of Cézanne.”
From 1948 to 1980, he was part of numerous collective exhibitions of contemporary art in France in Paris, Marseille, Toulouse, and abroad: New York, London, Oxford, Philadelphia, Turin, and Zurich, etc.
Forced by illness and infirmity to stop painting in 1973, Pierre Ambrogiani died in 1985 and was buried in the Saint-Pierre cemetery in Marseille. His body was transferred to the cemetery of Sault, in the Vaucluse.
With exhibitions in cities such as Paris, New York, London and Stockholm numerous of his pieces can be found in public collections. A brief list: Paris, print room of the National Library of France; Paris, National Museum of Modern Art; Châteauneuf-le-Rouge; Arteum Contemporary Art Museum; Toulon, Museum of Art; Marseilles, Cantini Museum; Marseilles, Regards de Provence Museum; Avignon, Calvet Museum, etc.
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