With this exhibition, the first ever in Italy to be dedicated to the American artist Romaine Brooks, we discover the non-conformist, refined and cosmopolitan community that animated the most sophisticated cultural circles of the Belle Époque in Paris, Capri and Venice: Jean Cocteau, Paul Morand, Luisa Casati, Ida Rubinstein and Gabriele d’Annunzio are just some of the characters who were privileged to be immortalised by the artist, famous for her palette of moonlight tones.
Curated by Jérôme Merceron on the basis of a project by Daniela Ferretti, the exhibition arises from the felicitous meeting with Lucile Audouy, a passionate and feisty collector in Paris, who has generously loaned a very important group of works for the exhibition in Venice, many of which never before seen in public. The project is the result of meticulous research started years ago by her husband, Paul Audouy, a deep admirer of Romaine Brooks, and continued after his death by his wife Lucile with tenacity and determination.
Born in Rome in 1874 to American parents and married to pianist John Ellington Brooks, Beatrice Romaine Goddard was one of the most interesting figures of the artistic scene of the Twenties. Romantically linked to the writer Nathalie Clifford Barney and, simultaneously, to the dancer Ida Rubinstein – her model for many paintings -– the American artist also had an intense relationship with d’Annunzio, whom she immortalised in two famous portraits.
Initially influenced by the painting of Whistler, she soon found her unmistakable signature style, one marked by an infinite variety of greys and old pinks and an uncanny ability to capture the soul of her subjects.
However, it is the drawings that are the deepest mirror of her tragic and lonely soul. Charged with a suffering poetry, emotion and mystery, irony and pessimism, these elements blend in the taut line devoid of any decorative frills that almost cuts into the paper without hesitation or second thoughts; they accompany us with modesty and apparent detachment through the meanders of an inner world, constantly poised between light and darkness.
After the major exhibition dedicated to the “Divine Marchesa”, Palazzo Fortuny thus hosts a new chapter on female personalities who enlivened the intense “crazy years” of the last century.