14/04/19

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Giuseppe Arcimboldo (Italian, 1527-1593)



Giuseppe Arcimboldo was an Italian painter best known for creating imaginative portrait heads made entirely of such objects as fruits, vegetables, flowers, fish and books, that is, he painted representations of these objects on the canvas arranged in such a way that the whole collection of objects formed a recognizable likeness of the portrait subject.
Arcimboldo was born in Milan in 1527, the son of Biagio, a painter who did work for the office of the Fabbrica in the Duomo.
Giuseppe Arcimboldo did not leave written certificates on himself or his artwork. After the deaths of Arcimboldo and his patron—the emperor Rudolph II—the heritage of the artist was quickly forgotten, and many of his works were lost. They were not mentioned in the literature of the 17th and 18th centuries. Only in 1885 did the art critic K. Kasati publish the monograph "Giuseppe Arcimboldi, Milan Artist" in which the main attention was given to Arcimboldi's role as a portraitist.


With the advent of surrealism its theorists paid attention to the formal work of Arcimboldo, and in the first half of the 20th century many articles were devoted to his heritage. Gustav Hocke drew parallels between Arcimboldo, Salvador Dalí and Max Ernst's works.
A volume monograph of B. Geyger and the book by F. Legrand and F. Xu were published in 1954.
Since 1978 T. DaCosta Kaufmann was engaged in Arcimboldo's heritage, and wrote of the artist defending his dissertation "Variations on an imperial subject". His volume work, published in 2009, summed up the attitude of modern art critics towards Arcimboldo. An article published in 1980 by Roland Barthes was devoted to Arcimboldo's works.
Archimboldo's relation with surrealism was emphasized at landmark exhibitions in New York ("Fantastic art, dada, surrealism", 1937) and in Venice ("Arcimboldo's Effect: Evolution of the person in painting from the XVI century", Palazzo Grassi, 1987) where Arcimboldo's allegories were presented.
The largest encyclopedic exhibition of Arcimboldo's heritage, where about 150 of his works were presented, including graphics, was held in Vienna in 2008
In spite of the fact that very few works of Arcimboldo are available in the art market, their auction cost is in the range of five to 10 million dollars. Experts note that it is very modest for an artist at such a level of popularity.
Arcimboldo's art heritage is badly identified, especially as it concerns his early works and pictures in traditional style. In total about 20 of his pictures remain, but many more have been lost, according to mentions of his contemporaries and documents of the era. His cycles Four Elements and Seasons, which the artist repeated with little changes, are most known. Some of his paintings include The Librarian, The Jurist, The Cook, Cupbearer and other pictures.
Arcimboldo's works are stored in the state museums and private collections of Italy -including Uffizi Gallery, France -Louvre, Austria, the Czech Republic, Sweden and in the US.