Renato Guttuso

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Guttuso, Renato


Born Jan. 2. 1912, in Bagheria, Sicily. Italian painter and graphic artist, public figure, activist in the struggle for peace. Head of the socialist realist trend in contemporary Italian art. Member of the Communist Party since 1940 and member of its Central Committee since 1956. Member of the Presidential Council of the Italy-USSR Society since 1963. Member of the Committee on the International Lenin Prize for Strengthening Peace Among Nations. Academician of the Academy of Arts in Rome (1960). Honorary member of the Academy of Arts of the USSR (1962).

Guttuso studied at the Academy of Arts in Rome. In 1939 he joined the antifascist cultural figures who united around the magazine Corrente (Milan). During World War II in 1943–45 he took part in the Resistance Movement. In the postwar period he was the leader of the realistic wing of the New Art Front, an association of Italian artists (1946–48).

In the late 1930’s and early 1940’s, Guttuso produced a number of antifascist works that reflected in expressive, sometimes symbolic, form the heroic struggle and suffering of the people. These works include Mass Execution by Firing Squad in the Countryside (1938; Gallery of Contemporary Art, Rome), Crucifixion (1940–41 ; artist’s collection), and the series of drawings Gott mit uns! (God Is on Our Side), in india ink and tempera (1944–45; Gold Medal of Peace of the World Council of Peace, 1950).

Guttuso has been flourishing creatively since the end of the 1940’s. Reworking the traditions of a number of European artistic trends of the 19th and 20th centuries (romanticism, critical realism, expressionism, cubism), he strives to create a contemporary realistic art that responds to vital social problems. In his works of the I940’s. I950’s, and I960’s Guttuso re-creates a broad and multifaceted picture of the life of capitalist Italy, laying bare its inherent tragedy and sharp contradictions. The paintings Occupation of Abandoned Manor Lands by Peasants in Sicily (1948–50; German Academy of Arts, Berlin), Boogie Woogie in Rome (1952; Farinelli collection, Rome), The Beach (1955–56; National Gallery, Parma), Man Eating Spaghetti (1956; Farinelli collection, Rome), The Debate (1959; Tate Gallery, London), The Crowd (1960; Hermitage, Leningrad), and others depict the alienation of people in the bourgeois world, the poverty and lack of civil rights of the masses, and their courageous struggle for social renovation.

An artist and a democrat, Guttuso affirms new aesthetic and social values, depicting the life of the people in artistic images that are heroically monumental and severely true. To strengthen the emotional impact of his works, which are marked by the merciless accuracy of his realistic observations, Guttuso often uses sharp, contrasting color resonance, the dramatic expressiveness of dynamic drawing, and a generalizing modeling of volume. An essential place in his work is occupied by landscapes with clear-cut composition and severe grandeur {Landscape in Calabria, 1953; Sunset in the Bay of Naples, 1955), as well as by still lifes that have an emphasized simplicity of objects, and unexpected sharpness of composition, and a sense of the relationship of objects with the difficult working life of the people {Basket, Pliers, and Hammer, 1961; artist’s collection).


Renato Guttuzo: Katalog. Moscow, 1961.
Barskaia, A. G., and Iu. A. Rusakov. Renato Guttuzo. Leningrad-Moscow [1965].
Moravia, A. Renato Guttuso. Palermo, l962.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Facciamo una premessa: alla fine "Madame Bovary c'est moi", diceva Flaubert, o con le parole di Renato Guttuso: "Anche se dipingo una mela, c'e la Sicilia".
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