Fantastico! Italian art from the 1920s and 1930s

Cesare Sofianopulo: Masks, 1930. Museo Revoltella – Galleria d'Arte Moderna, Trieste. © Archivio Fotografico del Museo Revoltella. Photo: Nicola Eccher

Fantastico! explores an artistic movement known as magic realism, which emerged in Italy at the end of the First World War. The works exhibited are characterised by silence and a mysterious atmosphere, and the conflict between reality and the world of dreams. The depictions of everyday life seem to reveal a hidden side of existence. The exhibition features masterpieces by artists such as Giorgio de Chirico, Carlo Carrà, Felice Casorati, Antonio Donghi and Cagnaccio di San Pietro.


The art of magic realists is simultaneously realistic and far removed from reality. The works show us the world as it manifests itself, while at the same time superimposing new, dreamlike layers on it. Many of the works are like still images from a film. We can imagine what has happened a moment ago and what will happen next, as the scene unfolds. The magic realism movement is part of a wider interwar wave of realist and classicist modernism both in Europe and beyond.

The key artists featured in the exhibition are Felice Casorati, Antonio Donghi, Cagnaccio di San Pietro, Gino Severini, Ubaldo Oppi, Achille Funi and Carlo Levi. The works featured in the exhibition by Giorgio de Chirico and Carlo Carrà display the basic tenets of magic realism. Works by artists who are lesser known outside Italy, such as Mario and Edita Broglio, Gian Emilio Malerba, Carlo Sbisà, Gregorio Sciltian, and Cesare Sofianopulo, demonstrate the diversity of the movement.

The exhibition also presents works in the Ateneum collection by artists who represent the realist and classicist modernism of the 1920s and 1930s, such as Ragnar Ekelund, Greta Hällfors-Sipilä, Olli Miettinen, Yrjö Ollila, Martti Ranttila, Juho Salminen and Ilmari Vuori. Furthermore, the exhibition presents Italian prints from the Rolando and Siv Pieraccini collection held by the Ateneum.

The exhibition has been curated by the director of the Foundation for the Municipal Museums of Venice (“Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia”), Gabriella Belli; Professor Valerio Terraroli from the University of Verona; and the chief curator at the Ateneum Art Museum, Teijamari Jyrkkiö, in collaboration with 24ORE Cultura. The works are drawn from esteemed public and private collections in Italy and elsewhere in Europe.

The exhibition coincides with the release of a book, in Finnish, Swedish and English, entitled Fantastico! Italian art of the 1920s and 1930s. The book provides the reader with an introduction to the world of magic realism and explores the movement as one of the realist phenomena in European visual art in the interwar period. The book presents all the Italian artists featured in the exhibition. The book is edited by Hanna-Leena Paloposki, with articles contributed by Erkki Anttonen, Gabriella Belli and Valerio Terraroli. The Italian Cultural Institute in Finland has supported the publication of the book.

Book at the webshop

Fantastico! events

GUIDED TOURS of the exhibition in the exhibition galleries
In English: on every other Sunday, even-numbered weeks, at noon
3 June, 17 June, 1 July, 15 July, 29 July and 12 August

Thu 17 and Fri 18 May, 16:00–17:00 and Thu 9 and Thu 16 Aug, 16:30–17:30
Come and learn art terminology in the Italian language and explore fantastic art! Read more

Thu 17 May – Wed 6 Jun
 (in Finnish and in English)
Read more

Thu 7 Jun, 17:00
The art historian Antonella Perna gives a guided tour of the exhibition in Italian. Admission is included in the museum entrance fee or with a Museum Card.

Sat 18 Aug, 12:00–15:00
Guided tours, talks, workshop. Read more

Press releases

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