AArduino Angelucci was born in Rieti on July 2, 1901 from parents Luigi and Zefferina Paolucci. Antonio Calcagnadoro was his first art teacher. At the beginning of his career, his teacher’s paintings were of great influence to Angelucci. This can be noted particularly in works of art including “Lo Sfratto” and some portraits in Verista style. He continued his artistic education at the Regio Istituto Superiore di Belle Arti in Rome, where he graduated from. In 1922, he signed up for a painting course at the Accademia di Belle Arti held by a painter named Coromaldi. At the same time, he attended a figure drawing class at the Accademia Inglese di decorazione (English Academy of Decoration), located at the Museo Artistico in Capo Le Case. He attended a course in architecture in order to better expand his knowledge in art theories for high concept mural paintings.

During this time, his work was very influenced by Master Artists’paintings such as Patini, Michetti, Mancini and Sartorio, displayed at the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna. He was also influenced by the discovery of Spadini’s works in the Galleria Gioiosi (located in Via Margutta), and by the Avant-Garde artworks in Galleria Bragaglia (in Via Condotti). Captivated by the drawings of Romano Dazzi, and the hermetic touch in Prampolini’s Futurism, by the plasticity of Boccioni and the Surrealism of Dottori, he was moved to develop, rearrange, consolidate his own cultural preparation for an intimate dialogue with the artifacts from a great tradition. This dialogue was conceived during a journey to Paris. He was awarded this trip in 1925 by the Ministero della Pubblica Istruzione after winning a contest with a Deposition painting.

During these years he gained self-encouragement due to a number of contest awards and classifications: in 1920, he won the Accademia di S. Luca’s Pensionato Lana for Painting Award, in 1923 he was classified first in the Rome selection for the Pensionato Artistico Nazionale di Pittura that takes place in every Accademie di Belle Arti (Academies of Fine Arts) in Italy. The art critics and a great part of the Commission jury designated him as prospective winner of the final competition, unfortunately, the Pensionato never took place that year.

From 1925 to 1930, Angelucci collaborated with Pietro D’Achiardi (painter, art critic, professor at the Accademia in Rome), and frequented the dynamic Circolo Artistico in via Margutta. These events constituted an important professional and cultural experience for the artist. He worked on the following works of art during his time in D’Achiardi workshop:

  1. Cartoon for the mosaic decoration of the vaults of the Basilica del Getsemani’s Dome, Jerusalem.
  2. Cartoon for the mosaic flooring and marketery of the Sala del Mappamondo (Globe Chamber) in Palazzo Venezia, Rome.
  3. Decoration of the Argentina Church, Rome.
  4. Decorations within the Villa Berlingieri, Rome.

In 1926, he married Erina Aguzzi, with whom he had two children: Augusto and Adriana. In 1930-31, he decorated a chamber in the Palazzo della Provincia of Rieti (70 sq.m.), creating the first mural painting in his city: the “Vignola character” is illustrated by means of a modulated cultural setting and the imposition of decorative architectural elements, but not by the realization of forms and the elaboration of the chromatic-painting of the various parts, elements that bear the unmistakable style of the artist, presenting his strong background. The picture calls for a metaphysical interpretation of the images, and the plastic rendering of the shapes and volumes, alongside nature’s intimate charm.
Angelucci and Erina separated in 1935. The artist subsequently moved to Rieti with his children.

From 1935 to 1938, he won the national competition for the fresco in the vault of the Aula Magna of the University of Palermo (100 sq.m.). He elaborated its aspect by working feverishly in studying form, the definition of characters and in employing subdued, balanced and defined color choices. The proposed theme being “Federico II mecenate delle lettere, delle arti e delle scienze” (Frederick II, patron of literature, arts and sciences), brought him closer to the Novecentismo that characterized the composition with solemn plasticity, Futurism and metaphysical hints. The architectural unity of the work and the seriousness of the setting is lightened by soothing pastel colors, with a result of prevailing chromatic harmony. Arduino Angelucci made his name with this fresco which was much appreciated by the critics. He was offered further assignments as a result.

In these same years, he enhanced his production with a number of pencil and charcoal portraits, which were distinguished by incisive illustration and acute choices of expressive character. Furthermore, he was assigned with the creation of numerous posters for political events of his time, which can be appreciated for their tight and neat synthetic composition in force and modern design.

In 1937, he illustrated a fresco for the Rapallo Cathedral (40 sq.m.), in which he expresses the mystical character of his inner emotions and intimacy by the means of suffused and suggestive coloring which resemble a pastel drawing. While detaching its self from solemnity, the interpretation unites values of redeemed humanity while rendering the piece balanced with formal and twentieth-century metaphysical spiritualism.

In 1939, he worked on a frieze in the Hall of Honor of the Government Palace in Terni (70 sq.m.) (destroyed by bombing in ’44). In order to obtain higher density of color, Angelucci selected a researched tempera technique. The composition blends elements of civil and ideal topics, alternating dynamic realism and hieratic synthesis of twentieth-century art. This is demonstrated by the cartoons drawn and charcoaled in a defining manner that render the work of art complete and pictorial. That same year, he was awarded top four (along with artists Cascella and Contardo Barbieri) with the Bergamo Award, a competition for a panel fresco (120 sq.m.) for the Staircase of the city’s Palazzo Littorio. The second selection did not take place because of the war that destroyed the building and the archives. The complex and rational composition in the concept art is expressed on several levels in uniform and closed form, empowered by subdued coloring from which bursts of color emerge that enliven the plurality and dynamism of the scenes expressed with severe force. In 1939 he oversaw the decoration of the villa of Barone Acerbo in Caprara in Pescara.

In 1940, he competed in the contest for mosaics at the Palazzo dei Congressi, which took place in the EUR neighborhood in Rome. He created four themes based on four art concepts: The Early Days of Rome, The Roman Empire, Papal Rome and Rome During the Fascist Empire. The works submitted by Angelucci were widely acclaimed by the public and the critics. The composition merges architectural wisdom along with an innovative golden background, which provided for a deeper color definition. However, the jury of the competition selected the works of artists Capizzano, Gentilini, Guerrini and Quaroni. That same year, he was commissioned to complete the decoration of the Council Chamber in Rieti’s City Hall, which had already been decorated with frescoes by artist Antonio Calcagnadoro. Due to war vicissitudes, work was left unfinished. The only completed elements from this commission are the drafts: two round oils on canvas and the cartoon for the central panel. In Mediterranean painting language, themes related to the myths and heroism of the Sabine population, are depicted with rigorous force and deep composition, but also with a momentum distant from the fixity of twentieth-century art, and with an intense pictorial paste. In 1940-42, he decorated the Villa Alfano in Appia Antica in Rome, and Villa De Luca S. Rufina (Cittaducale, Rieti), with symbolic interpretations of the zodiac signs and the Franciscan sanctuaries in the valley of Rieti, that convey an elegant and formal color fusion.

During these years he met his second wife, Maria Fallerini, from whom he had two daughters: Alessandra and Zefferina. From 1941 to 1943, he was Professor at the Liceo Artistico di Napoli (Naples High School for Art Studies), but the war brought him back to Rieti, and obliged him to suspended his thus far most active artistic activities. A world had been destroyed because of the war, but at this time new articulations and aesthetic stimuli were added to the experiences of the artist, moving him to prove himself with renewed humility. The intense and penetrating pastel portrait of Maria, elegant and ethereal in tone, gained considerable appreciation during the first Quadrennial of Rome’s post-war era. Angellucci was very occupied for years with still life paintings and landscapes (bringing back the emotive memory of the Roman School), frescoes and mosaics (to broaden architectural forms – decorations in Rieti’s cemetery), along with multiple abstract works of art, modeling studies (amongst which the panels for the Franciscan sanctuaries and the portrait of Maria). His form of art was greatly enriched by these experiences, with research and meditation that marked the transition to a new expression. During the same period basing himself, he developed a marble monument dedicated to the martyrs of the war in Leonessa, and a pillar to the fallen in Terminillo, in Rieti. These works were inspired by a twentieth-century model.

During the second half of the ’40s, Angelucci had the possibility to confront himself more profoundly with compositions of a larger scale. He had always believed in these types of creations as a master of tradition, which enable the expression of society’s trials and tribulations at their most genuine level. In 1946, alongside project architect, Paolo Rossi, he designed the outline for the decoration of the Arco Trionfale for the reconstructed Cathedral of Benevento. In 1947, he decorated Villa Palazzetti (Appia Nuova, Rome) with natural elements. In 1948, inspired by the tragedy of war and Christian values, he drafted and created in pastels the cartoon of a stained glass for the four-light window of the church of S. Francesco in Rieti. The significance and the result of the pictorial composition should have driven the work to be completed, but unfortunately this was not the case; because of man’s negligence this precious cartoon was destroyed. In 1948, he participated in Rome’s train station Great Mosaic Contest. The work represents a succession of scenes that summarize, in abstract manner, images and symbols that characterize the myths, history, architecture and art of Rome. These elements are inserted, and at the same time isolated, within panels that are untied with a vivid tone and a color variety, which demonstrate a more modern pictorial sensibility and composition, as confirmed in numerous contemporary abstract pieces on Archimedes and Leonardo. With the same style and during the same period, he created La Ricostruzione Mosaic for the lobby of the Palace of Genio Civile in Rieti. This abstract and architectural, composition, expresses the artist’s newfound composure. The mosaic is arranged with a divisionist technique that breaks down all its components in terms of color and articulation while overlapping one another transparently.

During this period, the scarceness of abstract paintings is reaffirmed by the furnishing and interior design in public places. All traces of Angelucci’s subsequent works have unfortunately been expunged by modernisation.
Prestigious opportunities begun to reappear during the post-war reconstruction. In 1955-56, Angelucci is assigned with the picturesque representation on two walls of the Sala delle Riunioni in the Palazzo delle Foreste (Department of Agriculture) in Rome (100 sq.m.). This location inspired the chosen themes, inviting him to depict, such as in a succession of rituals, the serenity precious and mythic trend of current rural life. Driven by the distant memories of his birthplace, he added a touch of nostalgia to this piece. A warm and poetic autumnal atmosphere envelops the work of art. The subtle layers are punctuated by a greater pictorial language. The compositional fluency, expression of spontaneity, line softness and the grace in his figures gestures, instigate a new moment in the artistic life of Angelucci; he is now far from twentieth-century rigorousness and volumetric plasticity. The work was defined as an expression of religious devotion.
During 1957 and 1958, Angelucci was working on paintings in the salon of villa “Cecilia Pia” on Appia Antica in Rome (70 sq.m.). Thanks to its historical physiognomy, this location provided many classical themes to play with. Once upon a time, the myth of the birth of Venus tended to exalt the high values that characterized the history of Rome; from walls to pillars, a symbolic synthesis takes place in a monochromatic tale of Rome, from early times to the seventeenth and eighteenth Century, through the era of Justinian, Christianism and Humanism. On the ceiling, the Tondo (circular painting) is accomplished with tonal coloration, enhancing the fluidity of the movements and shapes that play together harmoniously within the composition, hence enriching it with distinguished significance and values. The author himself acknowledges the solemn feeling.

In the decade from 1965 to 1975, he oversaw the architectural planning and decoration for the sanctuary of the church of S. Augustine, and the interior design of the Regina Pacis church in Rieti. These commissions proved his creative and aesthetic qualities, along with his architectural precision. The pictorial execution of the Crucifix, the triptych, the cartoon and sketch for The Good Shepherd mosaic (later created in the sanctuary of Regina Pacis Church), reveal the same interest addressed by the artist in the production of those years, especially in terms of color combination, warm tone vitality, material preparation, the silkiness of the works cited, and finally in the dense and brushed contemporary wood painting that reach the pinnacle of portrait painting.

From 1966 to 1972, the artist designs the paintings in the Council Chamber (65 sq.m.) of the Cassa di Risparmio di Rieti Palce under the two-year direction of the Scuola d’Arte, and is responsible for the internal layout (including the flooring and furnishing of the representative rooms of the Palace). The four panels of the vault blend human activities, enhanced in a song dedicated to the hearth, summit of art and spirit, reflecting the intense chromatic level reached in those years. Areas rich with meaning and cultural references are created within the composition by the unity of rhythmic disposition of the masses and the chromatic variety of areas coherently expressed. This piece represents Angelucci’s most advanced piece of art and captures within it all his artistic savoir-faire.

During the last decade, fragmented elaborations studied in a dematerialization of color and images have accompanied Angelucci in his work: a Deposition, the PietĂ  and a human life study (starting with the first murder committed by Cain). During this period, an ever so present optimism and youthful state of mind, for those who believe in the affirmativeness of human activity, is verified in numerous oil paintings and mosaics: from suspended images for some cemetery chapels and monuments to the fallen in Cittaducale (Rieti) and the Palace of the Province of Rieti, in the 1973 and 1974.
One cannot distinguish a tendency on the artist’s natural inclinations for the study of architecture, as he held a large determining role in mural compositions. This preparation led him to become artistic adviser (that he carried on simultaneously to his painting activities) in collaboration with other professionals in a number of important productions. Angelucci worked on a number of civil buildings including the solemn and serene Sacro Cuore in Rieti (’50s and ’60s), the embellishment of The Palazzo di Giustizia (’50s), and the Church of S. Michele Arcangelo. His artistic career ended with his death on October 23, 1981.
Angelucci had a shy character and believed in the absolute of Art. He refused to sell his work and display them to gain fame. He participated infrequently in drawing portraits, still-life, landscapes and composition studies for trade union exhibitions (including the Quadrennial in 1947).

In 1965, he organized only one large retrospective exhibition in his city, exhibiting, his mural panting’s large-scale charcoal cartoons, alongside portraits and compositions. This exhibition was widely acclaimed.

Citations from “Cammino” (The Way), from the monographic catalog Angelucci Arduino, 1979, along with data taken from the artist’s personal curriculum.

Translation by Maeva Biré