Alberto Magnelli’s journey to Imprimerie Arnéra: Colourful linocuts intrinsic to 20th century abstraction

Alberto Magnelli was a prominent Italian painter, who’s early work explored both Futurism and Cubism before he concentrated on pure forms of Abstraction. Discover the story behind the original linocut prints which the inspirational artist meticulously carved and printed by hand aged 82, under the masterful eye of Hidalgo Arnéra.

During the second world war (1939-1945), Magnelli lived in the town of Grasse, in Provence. As materials were scarce, the self-taught artist made collages and painted gouache works on griddled slate slabs. These works would serve as inspiration for his later explorations in printing processes, including the abstract geometric linocuts that he would carve and print at the prestigious Imprimerie Arnera, in Vallauris. 

The significance of San Lazzaro

In 1929, the Italian writer and art publisher, Gualtieri Di San Lazzaro published two monographs titled ‘XXe Siecle’. The first volume was dedicated to Henri Matisse, while the second volume was dedicated to Pablo Picasso. By 1938, San Lazzaro had launched an illustrated periodical of the same name, which included contributions from Wassily Kandinksy, Hans Arp and Joan Miró.

Fast forward to 1970, and San Lazzaro was commissioning Magnelli to create a volume of prints titled, ‘L’Album de la Ferrage’. The volume brought together the three printing techniques that the artist was experimenting in at the time – etching, lithography and linocut.

Magnelli created four linocuts for the volume, which were based on an oil on paper that he had painted a few years prior. The collection had been in development since 1965, and were the first to be printed at Imprimerie Arnéra. Meanwhile, the lithographs that featured in the series were printed by the masters at Atelier Mourlot in Paris.

Composition sans titre I, 1970, original linocut print
Composition sans titre II, 1970, original linocut print

La Magnanerie de la Ferrage, 1970

The success of the volume saw San Lazzaro instantly place a new commission with the artist. For the second volume, titled, ‘La Magnanerie de la Ferrage’, Magnelli focused on the development of his linocut process, and created prints in luminous three, four and five-way colour.

In a letter to his brother on 6th August, he writes of his excitement for the new collection, and the joy of working with Hidalgo Arnéra, ‘I am making six new linocuts large enough for a new Album. And they will be in colour. And as on the coast, I have a magnificent printer in Vallauris (the same one who worked for Picasso), I want to end up here so I can work with him and change shapes and colours if necessary’.

By October, the 82 year old Magnelli was hard at work alongside Hidalgo Arnéra. Though he complained of the hard work the linocutting process was in his written correspondence to San Lazzaro – in part due to the hardness of the linoleum available – his fastidious attention to detail and passion for the works meant that he carried out as much of the process as he was physically able.

La Magnanerie de la Ferrage VII, 1970, original linocut print
La Magnanerie de la Ferrage IV, 1970, original linocut print

By the end of December 1970, the process was complete. From the final six plates, hundreds of linocut prints were carefully made, with several colour variations created from each design.

Related stories

spotlight King & McGaw sponsors the Turner Prize 2023 at Towner Eastbourne

We are very proud to sponsor the Turner Prize 2023 at Towner Eastbourne, as it is hosted there for the very first time. 

spotlight Meet emerging artist Isabelle Carr

Learn more about the harmonious balance in Carr’s calming paintings and her newly released collection of fine art prints.

spotlight Exhibitions to see this summer

Discover our top picks, brought to you by many of our long-standing museum and art gallery partners including The National Portrait Gallery, the V&A and the Tate.

spotlight Rare posters showcasing Hockney’s artistic evolution

Journey through Hockney’s exceptional career, as we take a closer look at the latest rare posters to be released from our archive.

spotlight Yevonde: Pioneer of colour

To celebrate the long awaited reopening of the National Portrait Gallery we take a closer look at the work produced by Yevonde, one of Britain's most prolific female photographers.

spotlight Meet painter and printmaker David Price

The Margate-based artist talks to curator Becca Pelly-Fry about his fascination with brash, colourful ‘non-art’, and the edition he’s made for our Curated Editions collection, New Mythologies.

spotlight Hilma af Klint and Piet Mondrian – Pioneers of abstraction

To celebrate the opening of Tate Modern’s exhibition ‘Hilma af Klint and Piet Mondrian: Forms of Life’, we take a closer look at the two pioneering artists. We deduce the similarities between their artworks which eventually resulted in the creation of an alternate visual language known as abstraction.

spotlight Meet Dennis Nothdruft, Head of Exhibitions at Fashion and Textile Museum

To celebrate the opening of their latest exhibition, ‘Andy Warhol: the Textiles’, we speak to Fashion Textile Museum‘s Dennis Nothdruft about the importance of Warhol’s early illustrations

spotlight Ele Pack’s new beginnings and emotion-filled abstracts

Upon the release of our latest collection with artist Ele pack, we caught up with her to discuss her recent relocation to Derbyshire, and the new direction of her work.

spotlight Meet Manchester light installation artist Liz West

We caught up with the celebrated artist to discuss her fascinating artistic practice and the newly-available limited-edition prints of her imaginative sculptural drawings.

spotlight Meet Scottish artist Ron Lawson

Learn about the inspiration behind his distinct monochrome landscapes and his new collection of prints.

spotlight La journée de la poterie á Vallauris, 1985

Translated from French as, ‘A special day of pottery in Vallauris, 11th August 1985; a big party’, this incredibly rare poster was created by French actor and artist Jean Marais. We take a look at how the field of ceramics and his relationship with Jean Cocteau influenced his design.

spotlight Exhibitions to see this spring

Discover our top picks, brought to you by many of our long-standing museum and art gallery partners including the Tate, Royal Academy and The National Gallery.

Subscribe to our newsletter
Be the first to hear about our new collections, limited edition launches, and enjoy artist interviews.

By subscribing you agree to our privacy policy.

Contact us: customer care
Email us
01273 511 942
Mon-Thurs, 9 am - 5 pm Fri 9 am - 2 pm

All art prints and images on this website are copyright protected and belong to their respective owners. All rights reserved.