We went to see the exhibition “De’ Visi Mostruosi e Caricature. From Leonardo da Vinci to Bacon”, in the splendid location of Palazzo Loredan (hosting Fondazione Ligabue).
The exhibition puts together portraits of deformed faces, caricatures, and misshaped visions of faces, in an itinerary going through 75 artworks from museums and private European collections.
In between the pieces, a remarkable collection of exactly 18 drawings by Leonardo stands out, as it is the very first time they are displayed in Italy.
These artworks convey a particular fascination that Leonardo had for the grotesque, not only conceived as an exaggeration but as what is deemed as “different”.
The deformed faces present recurrent somatic traits through all the different artists, almost delineating a historical-artistic route, which unwinds in a “Northern” continuity between Humanism and the Serenissima, in the exploration of the grotesque and caricatures.
The caricatures by Tiepolo and his scholars, which are dated back to the XVIII century, are extremely interesting, as they link with the Venetian music and theatre tradition, but they are especially influenced by Leonardo’s research, as stated in the exhibition catalog by Marsilio.
The collection of drawings by Carracci is also of relevance. His exploration of deformity follows the current of Naturalism, which constantly animated the Bolognese painter.
All the grotesque faces are different. Francis Bacon is also different: in all three of his artworks from 1965, the Three Studies for Portrait of Isabel Rawsthorne, where deformity becomes a painted poem and form is manipulated and changed into meta-realistic faces, influenced by an unconscious emotional experience. This vision implicates a transformation of form and content, well visible in the sequence of artworks.