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Valerio Adami

Figuration Narrative

  • S. Fitzgerald al l'Hotel Algonguin

Valerio Adami

(Born in Bologna, Italy, in 1935)

S. Fitzgerald al l'Hotel Algonguin, 19 April -19 May 1976

Acrylic on canvas
Signed, dated and titled on the back

S. Fitzgerald al l'Hotel Algonquin
130 x 97 cm

Provenance :
- Galerie Maeght, Paris (label on the back on the stretcher)
- Private collection, Paris

Adami, Galerie Maeght, Paris, 6 October - 12 November 1976, under no. 28 

Literature :
Adami, Derrière Le Miroir, no. 220, October 1976, Maeght, éditeur, Paris, described on p. 32 and reproduced on p. 27 under no. 28



The city grows on the destruction of itself and settles there inexorably.
I draw "Scott Fitzgerald in the bar of the Algonquin Hotel" but I don't manage to finish the drawing.
At night, the radiators in our room make the sound of bells.
Self-portrait at the hotel with Nikon camera.

(Extracts from VALERIO ADAMI's Diary in
Les Règles de montage, in Adami, Derrière Le Miroir, n° 220, October 1976, Maeght, ed., Paris, p. 19)

Valerio ADAMI
Drawing in paper

"My paintings emerge from memory, a memory that has sealed the culture of the past" Valerio Adami

"I am asked if the words written on the painting and superimposed on the image have any meaning for me, even in their phonetic value. Taken aback, I don't answer. Yes, the phoneme is part of the composition. [...] What's fascinating is the series of conjunctions that take place between the text and the image. The text gives life to the image and dies in it. Valerio Adami

Valerio ADAMI
Selfportrait, Hôtel Algonquin, New York, 1964

It was in the early 60s that Valerio Adami developed his visual language, fusing, in his own words, "the surrealist imagination of Wifredo Lam and Roberto Matta with the nostalgia for the Cubism of Alberto Magnelli and Juan Gris".
But it wasn't until the early 70s that the "Adami style" really took off, and the artist established himself as one of the most emblematic representatives of New Figuration, an artistic movement that linked painting with comic strips, film posters and American Pop Art.
During this period, the artist worked mainly on portraits, sarcastic or poetic tributes to artists, writers, musicians and celebrities who filled his world with mental references. The first example is a painting from 1971 depicting a portrait of the Irish novelist and poet James Joyce. 
In a closed universe, the artist treats his figures as black lines against a background marked by facetted shapes and surrounded by large flat areas of contrasting colours.

Our painting, entitled S. Fitzgerald al l'Hotel Algonquin, painted in 1976, admirably illustrates Valério Adami's pictorial aesthetic. The artist depicts the famous American writer Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald (1896-1940), seated, as we can imagine, at the bar of the famous New York hotel L'Algonquin: a legendary place where, from 1919 to 1929, the most brilliant minds on the literary scene of the time would meet for lunch. Among these sharp minds were the poet and critic Dorothy Parker, Gertrude Stein, Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, etc. Hemingway is treated in a highly stylised manner, but his features are perfectly recognisable beneath the black lines that are set against fragmented spaces with a vivid, saturated palette. Adami adds calligraphic words Algonquin and Bar to the composition, allowing us to pinpoint the location. From this hushed interior, where the notion of time seems suspended, the painter plunges the viewer into Fitzgerald's intimacy, lending the scene a strange atmosphere that hints at an almost dramatic and mysterious tension.

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