FIGURE IN RED 1935 ca.
Oil on canvas, cm 85 x 68
On the stretcher, Galleria d’Arte Fogliato label
Work authenticated by Fondazione Carlo Levi, Rome. Reg. no. 62
The figure in red is a portrait of Paola Olivetti, with whom Levi had an intense love affair. She poses seated with arms crossed, observed by the artist, who appears on one side. The portrait, with self-portrait, offers extraordinary insight into his pictorial lexicon, which Levi also analyzes in numerous theoretical essays: to the artist, every portrait stems from an initial reflection of the self, and it is only subsequently that the painter begins to discover his subject’s personality and physiognomy. It thus follows that portraits represent different perspectives of the Self with respect to the Other, as if the author were searching for and depicting himself in others. There is no subject that he painted, from the self-portraits to the portraits of people who were significant in his life, to the landscapes and still-lives, that is excluded from this impulse to analyze himself.