Alberto Manfredi

Alberto Manfredi

Alberto Manfredi was born in Reggio Emilia on 26 February 1930, to Giuseppe and Fernanda Selegari, whom Giuseppe had married in his second marriage. He obtained his classical high school diploma at the Liceo Ariosto in Reggio and later graduated in Literature in Bologna. In 1952, with a letter of introduction in hand, he travelled to Rome to meet Maccari, thus beginning a long friendship, which would continue during the years in which he would become Maccari’s assistant at the chair of Engraving Techniques at the Academy of Fine Arts, and later become the holder of the same chair in Florence. It was thanks to Maccari’s interest that during his university years in Bologna, he was able to start attending Giorgio Morandi’s house.

His rich activity as an engraver, partially collected in four catalogues published by the leading Italian print dealer of the 20th century, Dino Prandi, also led him to approach less usual forms of artistic expression, such as the linocuts executed for his friend Sergio Manetti’s wine labels. The salient characteristics of his graphic art – a precise, rigorous and sober language that has always wanted to keep its distance from fashions, searching in itself and in its deep protonovecentesque roots (from Degas to Beckmann, from Modigliani to De Pisis) for its expressive reasons – can be found in the same way in his painting, and it is certainly no coincidence that one of the protagonists of 20th century Italian art, Mino Maccari, wrote of him that he was “among the few painters who still know how to draw”. He had numerous personal exhibitions, at the Galleria del Milione and Galleria Il Mappamondo in Milan, at the Galleria Pananti in Florence, at the European Parliament building in Strasbourg, at the Bouquinerie de l’Institut in Paris, culminating a few months before his death in a large anthological exhibition of over one hundred paintings organised in 2000 at Palazzo Magnani in his city.

Available Works

Alberto Manfredi,
Modella, olio su cartone telato, 50×40 cm
signed at bottom

Alberto Manfredi, Modella 1978, oil on faesite 30×40 cm.
hand-signed and dated on the back by the artist

Alberto Manfredi
Natura morta con foglia, 1971
oil on canvans, 25×35 cm,
Hand-signed below and on the back

Alberto Manfredi
Il Luccio, 1971
oil on faesite, 18×24.5 cm
Hand-signed behind by the artist

Alberto Manfredi
Paesaggio con case, 1964
oil on canvas, 30×40 cm
Hand-signed and dated on the front and back by the artist


Alberto Manfredi
Modella appoggiata al letto, 1972
Watercolor, 38×30 cm
Hand-signed and date by the artist

Alberto Manfredi
Modella in studio, 1989
Watercolor, 34×22 cm
Hand-signed and date by the artist


Alberto Manfredi
Tre modelle, 1969
Paper size25.5×35 cm, image size 11.5×15 cm
Hand-signed and numbered in pencil by the artist

Alberto Manfredi
Due modelle in studio, 1968
Paper size 50.5×35.5 cm, Image size 20×16.5cm
Hand-signed and numbered in pencil by the artist

Alberto Manfredi
Quattro modelle in studio, 1968
Paper size 35×51 cm, Image size 17×19.5cm
Hand-signed and numbered in pencil by the artist

Alberto Manfredi
Autoritratto con tre modelle, 1970
Paper size 35×50.5 cm, Image size 19.5×28.5 cm
Hand-signed and numbered in pencil by the artist

Critical texts Alberto Manfredi

Corrado Marsan

It must be acknowledged, and with pleasure, that Alberto Manfredi has the virtue of unleashing the forces of imagination in us, of inflaming our brains: his storytelling, in fact, is subtended by complex cravings, by deliberately clouded memories and by sudden enthusiasms that surface, on the scene, with a sometimes uncontrolled fury and on the most innocent occasions. Forget dormancy and psychic autonomism: Manfredi has an eye endowed with acute vision, which can read a hundredth of a millimetre, which can recognise fingerprints, places and things, and which can count the pores of the skin. Yes, his visionary power is triggered by the smallest foothold, like certain traps set in motion by a straw, and Manfredi’s wizardry is all here: in finding the right combination to represent the range of his trophies (a figure, an interior, a glimpse of a landscape, for example), gradually reduced to true relics of a vivid and irrepressible memory of memories. For this reason, or even for this reason, it restores to us the lost passion for unplanned adventure, for a kind of ‘suspenseful’ atmosphere whose ‘flavour’ we often forget, unfortunately. An operative procedure, therefore, that allows Manfredi to reconcile – in his continuous and rigorous passage from graphics to painting and vice versa – elegance and irony, memory and contingent experience, astonishment and anxiety, while keeping the representation within the limits of a meticulous descriptivism of a mental and sentimental order (and note, in this regard, how gracefully the artist sketches her coquettish ‘figures’ or ‘stitches up’ a landscape laden with symbols and provocative and allusive evidence) animated, in the same measure, by blatant truths and by rituals and myths in the process of being absorbed: so that in a flamboyant, sometimes closed and sensual, fantastic parable, Manfredi’s ‘characters’ rediscover a lost serenity, a momentary strength to smile; but it is short-lived relief that, immediately, the ‘faces’ swell and become hard, openly and punctually denouncing the many and subtle ambiguities of a dazzling age of restlessness and crisis, also of desperate loneliness and unacceptable renunciation of freedom.

And if there is a precise indication to be deduced from Manfredi’s most recent work, it is precisely caution, even distrust in certain accommodating and fundamentally compromised calculations, in the use of figures and ‘alphabetical signals’ instead of precise logical and syntactical links that refer, let us say in their subterranean metamorphoses, to the rough consciousness of what is necessary: in fact, it is no coincidence that Manfredi still lives and acts in a labyrinth populated by all those things and facts that, on a daily basis, attack and involve us from all sides. Hence, in the end, a lyrical and moral chronicle that leaves no stone unturned and is enriched, sequence by sequence, with stimuli and ever new and civilised ‘exploratory possibilities’: so much so that in the artist’s most significant landscapes – in his shots and in his ‘smagliature’ controlled by a colour that is now transparent, now dense and barely frayed, and more often reduced to a single and unmistakable play of monochrome planes, subtended by a continuous and revealing sign – we can grasp the presence of an inner space (and at this point the colour-sign becomes, as it could not be otherwise, sign-writing: or, again, a sort of ideogram dilated on the surface of the canvas) in which Manfredi’s figures float intertwined, each one caught up in his own thoughts, his own nostalgia, his own impulses, and not infrequently shaken, all things considered, by an obscure presentiment. Almost an elegy or, better, the vesper-like blast of a trumpet that chokes, from high note to high note, the last notes of an incomparable and misunderstood ‘sentiment of time’.

“La Nazione”, Firenze, 1969

Orfeo Tamburi

If it is easy to read thoughts or writing for the gifted, it is just as easy, and perhaps better, to read in a painting or drawing the true nature of the person who conceived it. An artist’s confessions are in his works. The case of Albero Manfredi is not as simple as it might seem at first glance, for, in my opinion, there is a Manfredi the draughtsman and a Manfredi the painter, who compete with each other. And if the former is clear, sharp, essential, the latter is more closed and complex, despite appearances.

The draughtsman is ironic, light. The painter is serious.

But I no longer know whether someone has written it, or whether it is I who have always thought it, that a painting is to prose as a drawing is to poetry. And since paintings and drawings can be read like poems, it is clear that a mental chastity guides Alberto Manfredi’s hand even in the most intimate parts of his models, who are astonished to find themselves naked, his women, his young women in their shirts when they show off their roundness with candour, but also with a touch of irony that does not spoil, that in fact gives greater flavour.

But there is a way and a way of representing a nude, which can become vain, sentimental and dirty, or as natural as a fruit and an object. And in Manfredi there is the joy of the flesh, of the senses, and not the misery of the nude with all its imperfections.

A small picture with a small elongated nude, a slightly earthy brown colour, I encounter every day on the walls of my house.

It is Bonadea, his favourite model.

This is to say that I have been interested in Alberto Manfredi’s art for a few years now. But to tell the truth it is one of his ‘dormer windows’ that I would have liked to exchange for one of my canvases, those dormer windows that until a few years ago he showed us open on his non-existent skies.

Manfredi is also a graphic artist when he paints, which is why his painting is almost monochrome, monochrome because he does not need colour.

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