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Pietro Ghizzardi


In 2013 the Centro Studi presented the first Catalogue Raisonné of the works ofanother painter Pietro Ghizzardi (1906-1986). Ghizzardi was a multifarious artist, but apparently far-removed from the painter hailing from Gualtieri. For a long time Antonio Ligabue, Bruno Rovesti and Pietro Ghizzardi were considered to be the triad of the great Po Valley Naïve artists. Ghizzardi was a leading figure in the period when Ligabue was also living, an authoritative figure in the complex events and the existential adventures that characterized those years, and he represented an alternative culture, one that shifted away from our lands and seemed to be taking shape and coming alive in artists with remarkable creativity.

2 vols., 30x30 cm., box set containing 641 works

For information about purchasing the catalogue:

email  centro.ligabue@csaligabue.it or call 0521 24.50.16

A native of Mantua, Ghizzardi was born in Corte Pavesina di San Pietro in Viadana on July 20, 1906, in the very heart of the farming season. The Ghizzardi family work as sharecroppers, and they move several times to farms located in the provinces of Mantua, Cremona, Reggio Emilia. In 1933, Ghizzardi’s father Antonio dies. Pietro is often at odds with his brother Marino, who has taken over as head of the family. In 1947, Marino also dies. Pietro lives with his mother, who will always be very protective of her son, to such an extent that he will never be able to have his own love life. Pietro toils hard in the fields. As a young boy he is surrounded by the wonder of nature and filled with enchantment and an inner feeling that yearns for beauty. He attends school spasmodically, and has to repeat both first and second grade. He never finishes third grade.

     In 1951, during the great flood of the River Po, Pietro ends up alone with his mother in their house surrounded by water. During this period the self-taught artist begins to paint, going back to a youthful passion that had been frustrated by the members of his family for a long time. He fills cardboards with images of a woman dreaming, actresses whose faces he ‘steals’ from movie posters, and glossy photo magazines which he uses to make minimal collages. This sensual world is enriched with the images of saints, historical figures taken from schoolbooks, more or less legendary figures. Pietro uses charcoal, soot, charred wood and natural colours which he makes by mixing coloured berries, soil and grass. Pietro is a kind, gentle, and peaceful man, respectful of the environment and nature, themes that he writes about, anticipating some of the future issues of ecology.

     In 1957, Ghizzari dedicates himself completely to painting. 

     In 1968, he is awarded a gold medal by the President of the Italian Republic at the Premio Nazionale di Arti Naïves in Luzzara, founded by Cesare Zavattini. In 1968, he paints Casa Falugi, formerly Soliani-Pini, a villa located in Boretto where he spends an entire summer.

     In 1977, he wins the Viareggio literary award for his first work Mi richordo anchora, edited by Giovanni Negri and Gustavo Marchesi, and published by Einaudi. 

In 1980 in Milan, Vanni Scheiweiller publishes A Lilla Quattro pietre in mortalate, edited by Giovanni Negri and Gustavo Marchesi. It is a long text about one of his dogs, run over by a truck. The work is a vast, dramatic invective that sounds much like a prophecy against mechanization and mindless progress. 

     Ghizzardi attracts the attention of filmmakers, who dedicate several documentaries to his life and work. In 1963 a film documentary is made by Michele Gandin entitled Pietro Ghizzardi - pittore contadino for the Istituto Luce Cinecittà. In 1978, for the cycle “Le memorie e gli anni”, curated by Guido Levi, Rai 1 airs Mi richordo anchora, conversazione con Pietro Ghizzardi, directed by Gian Vittorio Baldi.

     Ghizzardi passed away on December 7, 1986 in Boretto, Reggio Emilia. The house he lived in during the last part of his life, with the publication of the artist’s first notebook, edited by Marzio Dall’Acqua, was turned into a museum-house in 1992. In accordance with the painter’s wishes it was called "al Belvedere”.