Massimo Campigli

Massimo Campigli
04.07.1895 (Berlin) - 31.05.1971 (Saint Tropez)

Nationality: Italian


German-born Max Ihlenfeldt is better known as Massimo Campigli, Italian painter and journalist. In 1895, he was born in Berlin, but he spent most of his childhood in Florence and Milan. Early on, Campigli was active as a journalist, working for Futurist and Avant-garde magazines in Italy. In his early twenties, he moved to Paris to work as a foreign correspondent, but soon became acquainted with surrealist artists as Giorgio de Chirico (1888-1978), Alberto Savinio (1891-1952) and Futurist artist Gino Severini (1883-1966). It was not until then that he started to make his first paintings. Among contemporary art, Fernand Léger’s cubism and Picasso’s classical works of the 1920’s especially inspired him. Campigli soon quit his job to devote himself exclusively to painting.

While in Paris, Campigli regularly visited the Louvre. His was influenced by the collection of ancient Egyptian art, which became a lasting source for his paintings. He applies geometrical designs to human figures, with subdued tones and schematic forms. Furthermore, inspired by ancient frescos, he favours rough textured plane. Campigli’s scenes and figures soon developed a monumental quality. Exhibitions of his work would follow in Paris, Zürich, Amsterdam, Berlin, Bern and Milan (1927 -1931).

Furthermore, Campigli displayed his work in a personal exhibition at the Venice Biennial (1948): female figures inserted in complicated architectonic structures. During the 1960’s his figures were reduced to coloured markings in a group of almost abstract canvases. He remained bound to his fantasy world of ethereal female figures and an archaic and symbolic pictorial language. Towards the end of his life Campigli was honoured with a retrospective exhibition at the Palazzo Reale in Milan. Sadly, he died of a heart attack in Saint-Tropez, at the age of 75.


(Exh. cat.) Esposizione d'arte italiana in Olanda, The Hague (Pulchri Studio) 1928, cat. no. 15-18;
H. Bavelaar, Kroniek van kunst en kultuur, Leiden 1998.


Esposizione d'arte italiana in Olanda, The Hague (Pulchri Studio) 1928


The work of Massimo Campigli is represented in diverse museums including the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum, Spain, Hermitage St. Petersburg, Dallas Museum of Art, Texas, Palazzo Montecitorio, Rome and the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York.

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