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Gastone Novelli

MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art

Nine paintings by Gastone Novelli (1925–68) all from the last year or two of his life, hung in The Museum of Modern Art in late November and early December. Despite the superficial laxity—or even fiddling sloppiness—of their facture, Novelli’s paintings escape from the tedious decadence of the European post-Surrealist situation. Four or five of the works, in their extreme narrowness and verticality and their patternization, evoke Viennese Sezession painting: Novelli was born in Vienna, and there may be something to the analogy.

But if Novelli himself was interested in “secession” as an act he concentrated his rebellious energies on politics instead of working out play-tantrums in art. More power to him. Maybe a prison term for working in the Italian Resistance helps make a person practical about the realities of social involvement versus the ineffectual thinness of esthetic radicalism.

The

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