Bologna 1914-1961 French Alps

Duilio Barnabè was born in Bologna in 1914. Early on, it was clear that he was to be an artist. During his student years, he studied for a time with the Bolognese artist Giorgio Morandi (1890-1964). In 1946, Barnabè and his young wife, Angiola, who also was from Bologna, left for Paris. In Paris, Barnabè’s earlier works (1946-1953) were clearly influenced by Picasso, however, he was heavily influenced by great Italian artistic traditions as well. In particular, his work was descended from a sense of monumentality first developed by Andrea Mantegna (Padua 1431-1506 Mantua), an artist who came from the same Venetia region of Italy as the forefathers of Barnabè.

It is interesting to note that, over the decades, Barnabè’s first teacher, Morandi, who remained a lifetime in Bologna and only visited Paris briefly, produced an art which was essentially “French” in character. Morandi’s stated “favorite artists” in fact were Poussin, Chardin and Cézanne. Barnabè, on the other hand, though living most of his productive life in Paris, until his tragic accident in the French Alps at the age of 47 in 1961, remained steadfastly “Italian” and, in his way, a perpetual “student” of Mantegna. It is for this reason that Barnabè, though very much admired by the leading French art critics who seemed to have understood very well what he was all about, was not particularly appreciated by the French public for which Barnabè’s art was “too Italian”.