Antonio Ligabue (1899-1965)
1960, Oil on panel
Antonio Ligabue's series of self-portraits began in the 1940s and were, for the most part, made at San Lazzaro, a neuropsychiatric institute in Reggio Emilia where the artist was repeatedly hospitalized. This particular one dates to the end of the 1950s. Ligabue, known for his wild temperament, depicts himself here in the foreground, in a white shirt with blue stripes and a high open collar that frames his distorted, slender face, characterized by the deep wounds he inflicted on himself through sacrificial self-mutilation practices. His gaze emanates anxiety and nervousness. The background shows a typical country landscape, featuring a small church and other elements that together create a sense of the figure’s isolation which is reinforced by the presence of the lone tree, the scarecrow, and the solitary raven flying in the sky. Ligabue's self-portraits are known for their obsessiveness and repetition, and constitute an authentic personal diary, conveying a variety of emotions and great self-awareness as he presents himself at different moments.