Zinelli created over 2,000 works, each of them extremely intuitive and sophisticated: from simple forms reminiscent of late Matisse, to lettering and sounds which fill his work with all its urgency.
Paolo Colombo, MAXXI (Rome)
Championed by legendary French artist Jean Dubuffet, Carlo Zinelli is a master of art brut whose oeuvre was inspired by his personal experiences of conflict.
Born in San Giovanni Lupatoto, near Verona, Zinelli spent his early years working on the land as a farm labourer and living peacefully with his family. At the age of eighteen, he enlisted to fight in the Spanish Civil War, where he endured severe shell shock on the front line and returned unable to speak or recount in any way the horrors, which he had experienced.
In 1947 Zinelli’s family suggested he move to accommodation at a hospital in San Giacomo, near Verona. An art studio located on the grounds encouraged patients to draw, paint and sculpt. Zinelli lobbied to be included and, once accepted, dedicated his life to painting.
Working for up to eight hours every day, Zinelli began to create a bold individualistic body of work. Impressionistic recreations of the landscapes and characters of his youth were set against the brutal backdrop of war.
Memories of the countryside and travelling circuses were presented within frames of swirling repetitive text, echoing Zinelli’s own faltering speech patterns. It was as if the man himself had become a symbol of his own disaster.
Zinelli’s distinctive double-sided works were brought to the attention of Jean Dubuffet, who crowned Zinelli a master of the genre and, inspired by Zinelli’s free-spirited autobiographical gouaches, incorporated the unknown Italian’s aesthetic into his own prolific oeuvre. Zinelli’s work was soon being included in private and museum collections across Europe and America.
When the San Giacomo Hospital closed in 1971, the 55-year-old Zinelli was transferred to a new institution where he was no longer able to continue his daily art practice. He died in 1974.
CATALOGUE OF EVERYTHING #6, THE MUSEUM OF EVERYTHING 2016
La folie de l’art brut, Roxana Azimi (Éditions Séguier) 2014
Borderline, Artisti tra normalista e follia, Gabriele Mazotta, Museo d'Arte della citta di Ravenna 2013
Carlo Zinelli, The Museum of Everything 2013
Collection de l’Art Brut, Lucienne Peiry, Collection de l'Art Brut (Skira-
EVERYTHING #1, The Museum of Everything
Outsider Art, From the Margins to the Marketplace, David Maclagan (Reaktion
Inner worlds outside, Fondacion 'la Caixa', Irish Museum of Modern Art (Whitechapel
L'Art brut, L'Instinct créateur, Laurent Danchin (Découverte Gallimard) 2006
Dubuffet & Art Brut, Lucienne Peiry (5 Continents Editions & Museum Kunst Palast) 2005
Carlo Zinelli (Somogy Editions d’art) 2003
Vernacular Visionaries: International Outsider Art, Annie Carlano (Yale University Press) 2003
L'Art Outsider, Art brut et création hors normes au XXe siecle (Thames & Hudson) 2001
Self-Taught and Outsider Art (University of Illinois Press) 2011
Art Brut, collection de L'Aracine, Musée d'Art Moderne, 1997
Carlo: Tempere, Collages, Sculpture, 1957-1974, Museo di Castelvecchio Vérone 1992
Catalogue de la collection de l'art brut, publications de la collection de l'Art
Exhibition #6, The Museum of Everything (Rotterdam) 2016
IL PALAZZO DI EVERYTHING, THE MUSEUM EVERYTHING, COLLATERAL EVENT OF THE 55TH VENICE
EXHIBITION #1, THE MUSEUM EVERYTHING
(LONDON + TURIN) 2009/2010
ART, GENIUS AND MADNESS, SANTA MARIA DELLA SCALA MUSEUM COMPLEX, SIENA, MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART (CHICAGO) 2009
THE FIGURES, THE HISTORIES OF IRREGULAR, NEW NATIONAL MUSEUM OF MONACO, 2006
INNER WORLDS OUTSIDE, WHITECHAPEL GALLERY (LONDON) 2004
CARLO ZINELLI, MUSÉE DES ARTS INTERNATIONAL MODESTES (SÈTE) 2003
IN SEARCH OF LOST MINDS, TRENTO HISTORY MUSEUM, SANTA CLARA CULTURAL SPACE (TRENTO) 2002
VERNACULAR VISIONARIES, THE FOLK ART MUSEUM (SANTA FE) 2002
THE COLOURS OF THE MIND, PALAZZO REALE (MILAN) + IRISH MUSEUM OF MODERN ART (DUBLIN) 1999
ART BRUT, FROM THE UNDERGROUND TO THE CONSECRATION, MUSÉE D’ETENOGRAPHIE
THE GINZA ART SPACE (TOKYO) 1994
PARALLEL VISIONS MODERN ARTISTS AND OUTSIDER ART, CENTRO DE ARTE REINA SOFIA (MADRID) 1992
PARALLEL VISIONS MODERN ARTISTS AND OUTSIDER ART, LACMA (LOS ANGELES) 1985
JEAN DUBUFFET AND ART BRUT VENICE, PEGGY GUGGENHEIM COLLECTION (VENICE) 1985
ART BRUT, KUNSTHALLE BERNE 1963