Vittorio Pica e la critica sull’arte giapponese in Italia
Motoaki, Ishii (2000) Vittorio Pica e la critica sull’arte giapponese in Italia. Annali dell’Università degli studi di Napoli “L’Orientale”. Rivista del Dipartimento di Studi Asiatici e del Dipartimento di Studi e Ricerche su Africa e Paesi Arabi, 1998 (58/3-4). pp. 495-518. ISSN 0393-3180
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Vittorio Pica, a Neapolitan critic of literature and art, was the first to introduce Japanese art in Italy, where, unlikely in France, Britain and the United States, it was not well known. His interest had its origin in an enthusiastic admiration for Edmond De Goncourt, the famous japonisant and author of Outamaro, le peintre des maisons vertes (1891). Under Goncourt’s strong influence, Pica wrote a review of Goncourt’s book, and later on, in 1894, produced a book of his own on Japanese art, L’arte dell’Estremo Oriente. In this work, Pica translated almost literary from French critics, especially from Goncourt, Louis Gonse and Theodore Duret. L’arte dell’Estremo Oriente made him the key-person for that field of study in Italy, remaining the basis of his future work. His monopoly, however, came to an and when Japanese art was exhibited at the second Biennale of Venice in 1897: other critics could see the exhibited works, and especially Ugo Ojetti, Pica’s rival, showed an accurate knowledge of the subject matter, which he had probably obtained from English and French sources. Ojetti pointed out also some Pica’s and other author’s errors. The Venice exhibition was for Pica an occasion for observing directly the contemporary art of Japan. In 1905 the Chiossone Museum of Oriental Art was opened in Genoa by Alfredo Luxoro after long preparations, and Pica presented it to public on the magazine Emporium. His criticism seems to have entered a different phase on that very occasion. As a conclusion, it can be said that Italian art critics like Pica could not rely on native Japanese unlike the critics in Paris, where there was Tadamasa Hayashi, and that, more generally, Italy had remained behind European avant-garde. In addition, Pica was not such a zealous art collector like other critics, and did not own significant collection of books and engravings. For this reason his criticism of Japanese art was not fully convincing, and he was responsible for the limits within which Japanese art was received in Italy.
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