Organized by the Musei Civici Venezia and Edizionitrart, the exhibition displays around 100 works in oil, tempera, ink and pencil, illustrating the work of the Veneto painter, an emblematic figure of the lively and restless artistic world that existed in the city at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. Brother of the poet Diego Valeri, Ugo was a leading figure in the cultural circles and a very talented illustrator. He would become an important point of reference for the famous 1909 ‘secession’ at Ca’ Pesaro, the palazzo where his life would come to an untimely and tragic end in 1911.
Organized in such a way that it offers a compendium of the artist’s vast output, the exhibition focuses on the use of line in his work, demonstrating how he used serpentine outline to construct and model his figures, making them twist and turn in gestures that verge on the caricature. It also reveals how Valeri then applied watercolours to dilute these effects, creating the sort of rarefied atmosphere one finds in his Folk Dancing: Prelude and Folk Dancing: Finale. A skilled draughtsman, Valeri saw that it was dynamic, quick lines that opened the way to innovation, to the ‘new’. The result is that he is now remembered as one of the very best of Italian illustrators, and a section of the exhibition covers this aspect of his work, with first editions and drawings (some of which are from private collections and are being displayed for the first time). In his splendid and interesting oil paintings – for example, Autumn, Spring, The Folk Fair and The Woman of the People – the artist achieved a very different result; yet although the atmosphere and scope of these works change, the style is unmistakably Valeri’s.