Bice Lazzari: Rhythm and Line

Bice Lazzari (1900–1981), whose career balanced design and fine arts, created compositions by drawing free-hand lines, often over washes of soft color. Her poetic works resemble graphs, maps, and—representative of her lifelong passion for music—musical staffs and notes.

Bice Lazzari, Grigio + Giallo (Gray and Yellow), 1966; Acrylic on canvas; Courtesy of Archivio Bice Lazzari

Bice Lazzari, Grigio + Giallo (Gray and Yellow), 1966; Acrylic on canvas; Courtesy of Archivio Bice Lazzari

Born in Venice, Lazzari, who would become one of Italy’s most revered modern artists, was discouraged from studying the figure in art school in the 1910s because of her gender. She pursued the visual arts regardless, adopting the informel style, the prevailing movement in abstract European painting in the mid-twentieth century.

Bice Lazzari (left) and Acrilico K, 1979; Acrylic on canvas; Both images courtesy of Archivio Bice Lazzari

Bice Lazzari (left) and Acrilico K, 1979; Acrylic on canvas; Both images courtesy of Archivio Bice Lazzari

As her career developed, she further simplified her imagery, drawing or painting grids, lines, rows of dots and dashes, and irregular shapes against a monochromatic background. Though her marks are exact and rigorous, Lazzari created her compositions freely and drew by hand. The lines and forms in Lazzari’s compositions create rhythms that interact, emphasizing the play between surface and depth, and brilliantly bringing her works to life.

Bice Lazzari: Signature Line is on view at NMWA May 10–September 22, 2013, as part of 2013—Year of Italian Culture in the United States, an initiative organized by Italy’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Embassy of Italy, Washington, D.C. This exhibition presents a selection of 25 paintings and drawings from the Archivio Bice Lazzari in Rome.

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