20th Century art in Italy (1900–)

Italy has not played an important role in 20th century art, though it has produced a few great artists and contributed to minor movements.

  • Amadeo Modigliani (1884-1920). A sickly boy and only moderately successful in his short lifetime, Modigliani helped re-invent the portrait in painting and sculpture after he moved to Paris in 1906. Famed for his elongated, mysterious heads and rapidly painted nudes. Check them out at Milan's Pinacoteca di Brera and Rome's Galleria d'Arte Moderna.
  • Futurism. Italian artists living in 1909 Paris made a spirited attempt to take the artistic initiative back into Italian hands, but the Futurist movement Umberto Boccioni (1882-1916; Milan's Pinacoteca di Brera and Palazzo Reale, Rome's Galleria d'Arte Moderna) came up with was largely Cubism with an element of movement added in (Duchamp-esque). Gino Severini (1883-1966; Milan's Pinacoteca di Brera and Palazzo Reale, Cortona's Museo dell'Accademia Etrusca, Rome's Galleria d'Arte Moderna) contributed a sophisticated take on color which rubbed of on the core Cubists as well.
  • Giorgio de Chirico (1888-1978). Founder of freaky "Metaphysical Painting," a forerunner of Surrealism wherein figures and objects are stripped of their usual meaning though odd juxtapositions, warped perspective and reality, unnatural shadows, and other bizarre effects and a general spatial emptiness. Look for them at Milan's Pinacoteca di Brera and Palazzo Reale and Parco Sempione behind the Castello Sforzesco, and Rome's Galleria d'Arte Moderna and Vatican Gallery of Modern Religious Art.
  • Giorgio Morandi (1890-1964). Influenced by metafisica in his eerily minimalist, highly modeled, quasi-monochrome still-lifes. His paintings decorate Milan's Pinacoteca di Brera and Palazzo Reale, Bologna's Galleria d'Arte Moderna, Turin's Galleria d'Arte Moderna, and Rome's Galleria d'Arte Moderna and Vatican Gallery of Modern Religious Art.

Where to find 20th Century art art in Italy

St. Mark Preaching in Alexandria (1504–07) by Gentile and Giovanni Bellini in Room 8 (Photo by SunOfErat)

Milan's Brera is one of the top painting galleries in Northern Italy, with works by Raphael, Caravaggio, Tintoretto, Mantegna, Bellini, and Piero della Francesca

"The Tuscan Maremma" (1894) by Giovanni Fattori (Photo Public Domain)

The Galleria d'Arte Moderna is a collection of works by Tuscan macchiaoli (Impressionsts) and other modern art in the princely Renaissance Pitti Palace

Facing the Grand Canal is Marino Marini's "L'angelo della città" or "The Angel of the City" (1948–50) (Photo by Edal)
Peggy Guggenheim
Venice: Dorsoduro

The modern art of the Collezione Peggy Guggenheim

The armory, designed by Arnoldo Pomodoro (Photo Public Domain)

A small private museum stuffed with great paintings by Bellini, Botticelli, Piero della Francesca, Tiepolo, and more (plus: a poison ring!)

An interactive installation in the Arsenale at the 2005 Venice Biennale art show (Photo © Reid Bramblett)
Venice: San Marco

Every two years, Venice hosts the world's biggest and greatest exhibition of modern and contemporary art

The Matisse Chapel in Room 14 (Photo courtesy of the Vatican Museums)

The Vatican Museums's early and modern religious art

A room on the first floor of the Villa Reale (Photo by Carlo Dell'Orto)

A gallery of modern art in a sumptuous palazzo where Napoléon and his stepson Eugene de Beauharnais lived

The Cortile della Pigna, with Pomodoro's 1990 Sphere within Sphere (Photo by Gabriel Tocu)

The Vatican's public courtyard makes for a lovely museum break, offering grass and sun and a giant modern sculpture by Arnaldo Pomodoro

Japanese kai (painted shells for playing kai-awase), Edo period (Photo by Sailko)
Ca' Pésaro
Venice: Santa Croce

Venice's Ca' Pésaro and two collections: Galleria Internazionale d'Arte Moderna (Gallery of Modern Art) and Museo d'Arte Orientale (Asian Art Museum)

The castle offers fantastic views (Photo by Ra Boe)
Castel Sant'Elmo
Naples: Vomero

Little to see but some 20th century art and great views from the stony castle high above Naples

 (Photo by Sailko)
Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna
Rome: Outside the walls

A national gallery of modern and contemporary art

Museo Archeologico
San Gimignano

Etruscan remains, a preserved medieval pharmacy, and a contemporary art gallery

Henry Moore in 1975, standing next to his sculpture Working Model for Oval with Points (Photo by Allan Warren)

The foremost sculptor of the middle 20th century


20th Century art artists with works in Italy

Georges Braque, 1908, photograph published in Gelett Burgess, The Wild Men of Paris, Architectural Record, May 1910 (Photo by anonymous)

A cofounder of Cubism

Photograph of Marc Chagall (1920) by Pierre Choumoff (Photo by Pierre Choumoff)

A 20C artist of joyful, whimsical, colorful works

Self Portrait (1889) by Paul Gauguin, in the Musée d'Orsay, Paris (Photo courtesy of the Musée d'Orsay)

The Post-Impressionist who went native in the South Pacific

Self Portrait (1918) by Henri Matisse, in the Musée Départemental Henri Matisse, Le Cateau-Cambrésis, France (Photo courtesy of the Musée Départemental Henri Matisse)

The great early 20C French artist took post-Impressionism into the colorful realms of fauvism

Pablo Picasso self-portraits at age 15 (1896), 25 (1907), and 89 (1971) (Photo collage courtesy of Twisted Sifter)

A found of Cubism and one of the greatest artists of the 20C

Henry Moore in 1975, standing next to his sculpture Working Model for Oval with Points (Photo by Allan Warren)

The foremost sculptor of the middle 20th century