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Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso


Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso
  • Date: 1917
  • Style: Cubism, Dada
  • Genre: still life
  • Media: collage, glass, canvas, paper, sand
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The elements/fragments incorporated in this work depart from the universe Amadeo’s earlier works most commonly alluded to. In Coty, Amadeo practically abandons the Delaunayian discs and the stenciled signs; in the meantime, he introduces flowers into the repertoire of his ‘still lifes’, paints a playing card and substitutes the guitar fragments for a fragmented representation of a female nude. He equally substitutes the papiers collés for the gluing of objects. The canvas is encrusted with several pieces of mirrors, hair clips and necklace beads; there is also the painted surface of a protruding pane of glass at the bottom left-hand corner of the canvas, precisely the place where Amadeo paints one of the perfume bottles he identifies with the industrial brand created by François Coty. In the tight entanglement of planes which intersect in the top right-hand corner it is furthermore possible to decipher the profile and the hand of a smoking man.

A female nude taking in a male smoker in her boudoir; perfumes, flowers, clips, necklaces and mirrors (not to mention the potential metaphor of the spider in its web and the butterfly) recall, one would say, a classic theme, reminding the scandalous Olympia and Nana by Manet, or, more closely in time, Picasso’s Les Demoiselles de Avignon.

Though Coty does not follow any illusionistic logic of representation, nor any sequence of narrative linearity, Amadeo doesn’t cease to explore the reference to concrete experience, nor abandons the possibility of telling stories in his painting. This doesn’t invalidate at all the essentially pictorial value of this work. On the contrary, starting from the possibilities opened by Cubism, Coty explores the very limits of painting through the diversification of textures, the superimposition of planes and, above all, the introduction of collage, of these real fragments of a universe of reference which destabilize the painting as mode of representation. Hence, Coty first of all thinks and (de)constructs painting. It’s undoubtedly for this reason that it is often appointed as one of the most important works of the last works of Amadeo.

JCL, www.cam.gulbenkian.pt

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