In 1906 the Italian futurist painter Gino Severini arrived in Paris with no money, no name, and very few acquaintances, only to become a key protagonist in the artistic and literary circles that would spearhead the modernist movement. His autobiography from this period, translated for the first time into English, tells the story of the Parisian art world he knew so well, and offers a unique account of the individuals and ideas that created modernism.
Here we encounter painters and sculptors such as Matisse, Picasso, Modigliani, Braque, Gris, Dufy, Léger, Delaunay, Duchamp, Lipchitz, and De Chirico; the literary figures Marinetti, Paul Fort, Apollinaire, Cocteau, Reverdy, and Jarry; and also the philosopher and writer Maritain, composers Eric Satie and Igor Stravinsky, and the impresario of the Ballets Russes, Sergei Diaghilev. Severini shared their experiences in the studios, galleries, and cafés of Montmartre and Montparnasse, and re-creates the passionate debates that animated those gatherings. We witness not only the maturing of Severini's art and aesthetic theory but also the intellectual and political turbulence that brought forth a wealth of approaches to art in the first two decades of this century, including futurism, cubism, surrealism, constructivism, dadaism, and metaphysical painting.
Beginning with an honest, humorous description of his financially ill-fated family in Tuscany, Severini goes on to describe the triumphs and mistakes of his adolescence in the Roman art scene, where he fraternized with Balla and Boccioni. His down-to-earth tone pervades his anecdotes and assessments of the Parisian art world, enabling a casual reader to grasp the many issues at stake. As Severini's status as an important painter gains widespread recognition, this autobiography serves as a valuable resource for critics and a thoroughly delightful, engaging account for anyone interested in learning more about this artist who sheds new light on many of the crucial movements of the century.