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States of Mind

Poetics of the self from Previati to Boccioni

Ferrara, Palazzo dei Diamanti

3 March – 10 June 2018


From the dawn of the modern age, when scientists and writers competed to explore the darkest depths of the psyche, some restless and visionary artists experimented with a new visual language in order to open up the realms of the imagination and dreams and give expression to the states of the mind. The exhibition slated for spring 2018 at the Palazzo dei Diamanti explores these innovative and utopian trends, which at the turn of the century, where the emotional vibrations and phantasms stirring the modern conscience were brought into works of art, co-involving the sensitivities of the viewer. There will be masterpieces from some of the most original interpreters of the Italian art scene representing genres like divisionism, symbolism, and futurism, with artists such as Giovanni Segantini, Gaetano Previati, Giuseppe Pellizza da Volpedo, Angelo Morbelli, Medardo Rosso, Giacomo Balla, Giorgio de Chirico, Umberto Boccioni and Carlo Carrà. Some of their most advanced paintings will be on display to dialogue with works from the greatest representatives of European symbolism and with records of the scientific and cultural debates of the time, directing the visitor through the fascinating territory of the soul at the fin de siècle. The story begins in the climate of turmoil that was present at the end of the 19th century. The echo of Darwinian revolution and the new “science of the soul” contributed to sparking the artists’ interest into psychological introspection and the dynamics of feelings, from which spring, for example, the crazed and mesmerizing portraits by Segantini and Pellizza da Volpedo and the large paintings in which Previati and Morbelli revisit the themes dear to the pre-Raphaelite painters and the “cursed poets” in a modern and engaging manner. From here, the exhibition follows a thematic course, between light and shadow, through the states of the mind to which Italian and European artists gave visual form, drawing inspiration from the scientific imagination and a culture steeped in mysticism and esotericism, from the melancholy to the imaginary abandon of reverie, from the abyss of fear to the liberation of sexual inclinations, up to ecstatic love and to sublimation of feelings of universal peace and harmony. The quest for a language of the emotions is accompanied by a relentless experimentation with technical processes, resulting in the formalization of the mature masterpieces of Previati, Pellizza and Medardo Rosso, which appear to be of the same material as light, so much so that, as Boccioni observes of the first, “the forms begin to speak like music, the bodies breathe out the atmosphere, spirit and the subject is ready to transform into a mood.” The conclusion of the exhibition is arranged specifically around the masterpiece by Boccioni that lends its title to the show, the tryptic of the States of Mind, an icon of modern sensibility aimed at unseen forces. Taking a radical new approach, a polyphonic synthesis of lines and colours, body and atmosphere, the young futurist aspired to put “the spectator into the centre of the picture,” by dragging into it the dynamics of emotions and the exhilarating rhythm of the cities in the early 20th century.

Curated by
Chiara Vorrasi, Fernando Mazzocca and Maria Grazia Messina

Organized by
Fondazione Ferrara Arte and Gallerie d’Arte Moderna and Contemporanea di Ferrara

Promoted by

Comune di Ferrara


Regione Emilia-Romagna

Technical sponsor

Rubelli Venezia

Works on show

Press release


Palazzo dei Diamanti

/ States of Mind Poetics of the self from Previati to Boccioni


Stati d'animo. Arte e psiche tra Previati e Boccioni

Attività per scuole e famiglie

Attività per scuole

Stati d’animo fin de siècle

Conferenze e concerto

Video e clip animate

Guarda i video realizzati per la mostra

Interferenze scientifiche

L'immaginario scientifico e culturale