On April 8, 1919, in a letter to his friend Giovanni Papini, Ardengo Soffici wrote, ‘Il collage mi ripugna’ – which a hasty translator might mistake for “I find collage repulsive”. The mistake would be justified by the ambiguity of a French loanword in Italian: the Tuscan painter and writer (1879-1964) was not speaking of the artistic technique that involves assembling photographs, paper, newspaper clippings and such, but using an elegant term for concubinage.
Soffici of course had nothing against artistic juxtapositions, which in fact – like many other Futurist artists – he used quite often in his works.
Defined by Max Ernst as a “noble conquest of the irrational, the coupling of two realities, irreconcilable in appearance, upon a plane which apparently does not suit them”, the collage technique was popular in the Italian avant-garde movement of the early 1900s, with notable works by Gino Severini, Umberto Boccioni, and Carlo Carrà.
As regards sexual relationships outside of marriage, Soffici repeatedly confirmed his disapproval: in a column he wrote for the Futurist periodical “Lacerba”, titled “Giornale di Bordo”, he once suggested that “when a woman is caught cheating, the husband should be arrested at once, because almost always – nine times out of ten – the fault is his”.
Here is a selection of some of Soffici’s collages – and we mean his artistic works, of course.