The sheer size of Maselli’s Truck in the conservator’s studio

Titina Maselli paints ‘Energy’

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Roman artist Titina Maselli has been called ‘a Byzantine Empress’. Maselli (1924–2005) is known for her love for powerful urban scenes featuring iconic symbols of speed and modern city life. ”I want to paint energy,” the artist once remarked. Maselli began painting in the second half of the 1940s, exhibiting her first personal show at Rome’s Obelisco Gallery in 1948. She often focused her work on common household objects such as a telephone, a typewriter or a steak. Her fascination with urban subjects shows in her nighttime scenes featuring deserted streets and ruinous cities, influenced by her experience of living in New York in the 1950s. In a commemorative speech, Rome’s former mayor Walter Veltroni described Maselli and her work in this interesting way: ‘She is like a Byzantine empress who does not lose the elegant rhythm of her gestures, even when faced with the backbreaking tour de force of the oversized canvases that she often paints.’

Maselli’s “Truck” close up

Truck, painted in 1967, is a three-panel work whose total length equals nearly 15 feet. It showcases her ”signature” colors—black, orange and green. The conservation of Truck brought about a nice surprise for conservator Rossella Lari: ”A painting is truly a physiological entity,” Lari explains. “Titina Maselli’s work had various drops of paint that were still soft—still fresh! That is something you never find when working with ancient paintings!” Rossella exclaims. Restored in 2014, the painting is now on display at Florence’s Twentieth-century Museum.
The sideways gaze of Greta Garbo, during conservation treatment

The sideways gaze of Greta Garbo, during conservation treatment

Greta Garbo, one of Maselli’s two contributions to Florence, was painted in 1964. It is typical of her style as a major exponent of pop art. Restored and exhibited in 2016 as part of the ”Beyond Borders” exhibition at the Twentieth-century Museum, it was returned to storage as part of the Florentine Civic Collections.