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Title: Carmenu Mangion : engravings and prints
Authors: Vella, Dennis
Cutajar, Dominic
Keywords: Mangion, Carmenu, 1905-1997 -- Exhibitions
Art, Maltese -- 20th century -- Exhibitions
Issue Date: 1997
Publisher: National Museum of Fine Arts
Citation: Vella, D., & Cutajar, D. (1997). Carmenu Mangion : engravings and prints. Valletta: National Museum of Fine Arts.
Abstract: Practically all contemporary art-critics and serious writers on Maltese art of the present century concur in considering Carmenu Mangion as one of the key figures of Malta's contemporary art scene. Not merely through his influence on three generations of Maltese artists whom he coached at the School of Art between 1933 and 1972, but above all through his own conspicuous contribution tied intimately to French inter-war art in which he celebrates the gradual transcendence of reality into psychological sensations. Carmenu Mangion 's reputation - a figure that was always revered amongst the Maltese artist community - became known to the general public rather late in the day, a strange phenomenon attributable very likely to Mangion 's own excessive modesty and shyness, particularly in exhibiting his works. Although his works appeared sporadically in collective exhibitions since 1933, as well as in little-publicised personal events, it all failed to project the richness and depth of his artistic personality. The contemporary media and art-critics probably share part of the blame. The same unkind fate is shared by other deserving Maltese artists - sufficient to recall Joseph M Genuis (1934-1970). Mangion was rescued from this limbo at the age of 76 when a wide selection of his works was shown by Gallerija Fenici at the Mediterranean Convention Centre in December 1981. That event revealed the significance of his work within the 20th century historical context of Maltese artistic development. The Museum of Fine Arts continued to expand and indeed deepen the analysis of Mangion 's art by a large selective display of his paintings in an exhibition held in January-February 1992. The latter event was enriched by the publication of a monograph, dealing with the development of Mangion the artist, issued by the Museums Department. At the time, we could merely touch on the subject by Carmenu Mangion 's graphic production although we did emphasis its importance. He was the first to teach engraving at the School of Art, and indeed his earliest participations in local art events - such as the annual exhibitions of the Malta Art Amateur Association - included several examples of his graphic productions. His mentor at the School, Robert Caruana Dingli (1882-1940), was enabled to engrave some of his own work through the insistence and active collaboration of Mangion. Unfortunately, the times were unkind and generally unappreciative of contemporary engravings. Mangion had received his training in the medium while attending a course at the Central School of Art in 57th Avenue, New York where he lived between 1929 and 1933; it was precisely his command of this medium that recommended his assumption to the teaching staff of the School of Art. In spite of his enthusiasm, the public response proved to be poor and discouraging, so that Mangion's activities as an engraver were intermittent, in spite of which his graphic production remained certainly the most substantial in Maltese art until the 1960's. Now indeed that the public attitude has vastly changed, and in effect the graphic production of Malta's contemporary artists are held in high esteem, it is time to have a close look and compile a detailed account of consistency of Carmenu Mangion's graphic works. In some ways it has to be considered as a pioneering effort, but the works themselves reveal a virtuoso attacking his themes with no sign of hesitancy, although always eager to explore the potential of the medium so that, in some of the specimens examined, the artist had - at a later moment - continued his hatchings and cross-hatchings in pencil. This project is a labour of love of Dennis Vella whose text explores the sense of commitment of Carmenu Mangion, his passion and dedication while working in a dismal environment of general unconcern. The same lack of appreciation could well have proved a net gain, as the artist was thus allowed to work in complete freedom.
Appears in Collections:Melitensia Works - ERCFADDI

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