Radical Light

Italy's Divisionist Painters 1891 - 1910

This event was held from 18 June 2008 to 7 September 2008

18 June – 7 September 2008

Sainsbury Wing Exhibition

Admission charge

This exhibition explored the complex relationship between Italian Divisionism and the emerging Futurist movement in the early years of the 20th century. It was the first of its kind to be organised outside Italy.

Centred in Milan, Divisionism was arguably the most significant art movement to emerge in Italy during the last decades of the 19th century.

Dissatisfaction with modern civilization led Divisionist painters to explore Symbolism. Their aim was to represent political concerns and make their art into an instrument for social change.

The movement also sprang from research into optics and the physics of light. Inspired by French developments with pointillism, and fuelled by a desire to increase the luminosity and brilliance of their paintings, artists developed new techniques applying paint in a variety of dots and strokes.

This exhibition featured around 60 paintings, including works by the main protagonists of Divisionism: Vittore Grubicy de Dragon, Giovanni Segantini and Gaetano Previati. It also displayed works by the Futurist artists Giacomo Balla, Umberto Boccioni and Carlo Carrà.

Radical Light provided a unique opportunity to explore a lesser-known, yet undoubtedly important movement, offering a link to the National Gallery’s great historical collections of Italian art.

The exhibition was organised by the National Gallery, London and Kunsthaus Zurich.


Image above: Detail from Luigi Russolo (1885-1947), 'Lightning', 1909-10. © Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna, Rome. Photo Alessandro Vasari