Costante Costantini

 

Born in Florence on July 24th 1921, Costante Costantini was christened like all little Florentines at the time in the celebrated Baptistery opposite the Duomo, behind the Door of Paradise and under the vigilant gaze of Ghiberti. In 1939, he obtained his secondary school certificate in classical studies and in 1945 his degree… as an agricultural engineer. He quickly turned to the arts and in 1947 registered at the Bologna Academy. He then settled in Rome to perfect his studies at the School for nude studies at the Rome Academy – and to work, to keep himself fed, at the Ministry of Agriculture. His finest hour as a civil servant, in the early ‘sixties, was an official visit to Turkey, to assess the impact which this country’s entry into the Common Market might have…

 

Before he was twenty, his caricatures and drawings were published in the weekly “Brivido” and other Italian magazines. His talent for drawing was sharpened by his studies and by trips abroad: in Vienna, where he became a friend of Kokoshka’s; in Paris, where he followed courses at the Grande Chaumičre Academy; in the USA where he exhibited at the Positano Art Workshop Gallery.

 

During this period, Costantini created series of oil paintings, but also made prints: he is noted for his elegant and subtle woodcuts and his highly original intaglio prints made from punched metal plates. He was awarded several prizes in both fields.

 

                In the panorama of his creative opus, bookplates only occupy a modest place, although he created close to 500 of them. It was through his friendship with three collectors, Mario de Filippis, Remo Palmirani and Giuseppe Mirabella, sharing their ‘joie de vivre’ and sense of fun, that he started to make ex-libris in 1973.

 

                In 1987, Costantini was appointed professor and member of the Academy of the Arts of Drawing of Florence. As such, he organised a major series of art exhibitions which marked the cultural life of the city, in particular a retrospective of Florentine painting of the 1918 – 1939 period. It would be impossible to give here a list of the individual exhibitions of Costantini’s work, of the collectives in which he took part, of his countless illustrated books, or even of his prizes and awards. He was elected member of the Arts Academy of Italy and – now aged 85 – his creative drive is totally undiminished. His workshop has a sweet smell of fresh paint, and it is only because of slightly diminished sight that printmaking has been reluctantly put aside.

 

Benoit Junod

Geneva, July 2006