Spartaco Carlini was born in Pisa in 1884. Although he studied at a Technical College he showed an early natural talent for drawing so he studied at Guglielmo Amedeo Lori’s atelier at the same time. In 1902 he enrolled at the Istituto Statale d’Arte Passaglia di Lucca where he got to know Moses Levy and Lorenzo Viani who were also students at the same school. With Viani in particular he developed a strong and lasting friendship, both in artistic and political circles. It was Viani who introduced him to the Torre di Lago group and to Plinio Nomellini and Giacomo Puccini.

In the early years of the century Spartaco Carlini spent most of his time doing drawings and sculpture following the themes of the Symbolists and Art Nouveau artists. From 1905 to 1907 he produced two faithful copies of the “Centaurino” (The Little Centaur) an example of extremely modern sculpture and in 1909 he exhibited at the 7th Venice Biennial with a large pastel wok called “Il giardino del Re” (The King’s Garden).

Carlini’s friendship with Lorenzo Viani was also to involve him in political life, indeed he took part in the socialist anarchic literary – political group “Manipolo dell’Apua” led by Ceccardo Roccatagliata Ceccardi who was from Liguria, together with Enrico Pea, Luigi Campolonghi, Moses Levy and Giuseppe Ungaretti. He also worked together with the anarchic newspaper “Versilia” edited by Luigi Salvatori.

In 1916 he fought in the War and this experience was to have a profound influence on him. Even when the War was over for the rest of his life his character was changed by the horror of the events he had witnessed. Following the war the only time he left the town where he was born was to go to Sardinia in 1920 with Luigi Salvatori following a socialist campaign. It is to this visit that several marine paintings, Sardinian landscapes and still life paintings belong.

Spartaco Carlini returned to Pisa in 1921 and took part in the First Rome Biennial with the sculptures “Centaurino”, “Centaurino annegato” (The Drowned Centaur) and “Maternità” (Maternity). In the period from 1920-1930 he concentrated on painting many works showing scenes of various parts of his birthtown Pisa, such as “S.Paolo Ripa d’Arno”, “La Cittadella”, “Piazza della Berlina”, and historical events such as “Le Regate di S. Ranieri”, “La partenza delle galee”, ” Il Gioco del Ponte” and “Galee”. During the last decade of his life he set painting aside and spent most of his time at the Caffè Pietromani, on the embankments of the River Arno, where he lingered talking about art with friends and writers and at the same time filled notebooks with sketches, drawings and observations.

Written by: Cecilia Iacopetti – Translated by: Catherine Biggerstaff

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