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Erma Bossi

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Erma Bossi

*  1875 Pula
† 1952 Cesano Boscone


The biography of the Italian painter Erma Bossi (real name: Erma Barrera-Bossi) is difficult to verify: she was born probably in 1882 (or 1885) in Pola, a small village near Trieste, and died in 1952 (or 1960) in Milan. Erma Bossi trained from 1905 at the Ladies' Academy run by the Women Artists' Association in Munich. In 1909 she joined the Neue Künstlervereinigung München (NKVM), which had just been founded and which showed its members' work at the renowned Galerie Thannhauser. This artists' association included among its members such luminaries as Wassily Kandinsky, Gabriele Münter, Alexei von Jawlensky, Marianne von Werefkin, Alfred Kubin, Alexander Kanoldt, Paul Baum, Vladimir Bekhteyev, Karl Hofer and others. Erma Bossi was close friends with Kandinsky and Gabriele Münter. In 1909 she visited them at Murnau on Lake Staffelsee in Murnau, Upper Bavaria. That visit was captured in a painting by Gabriele Münter (Kandinsky and Erma Bossi at a table, 1909/10).
Erma Bossi spent the years 1914-18 in Paris, then she went to Milan. Erma Bossi stayed in contact with the international art avant-garde. In Paris she showed work at the annual exhibitions mounted by the Salons des Indépendants and Salons d'Automne; in Munich she continued to participate in group shows at NKVM. In the early 1920s Erma Bossi was also represented at the art show mounted by the Munich New Secession. In Milan she showed work at the novecento exhibitions of 1926 and 1929. The artist was invited to participate in the 1930 and 1935 Venice Biennales. Only a few Erma Bossi paintings are known. In her pictures, she has transformed the subject matter into large, simplified forms, in colors finely attuned in a festively balanced harmony. Her work reveals her continuous study of the works of other painters, including Seurat, Matisse and Derain and the aesthetic innovations introduced by the artist duo Kandinsky-Münter.
Even though Erma Bossi cannot really be called avant-garde, she is nonetheless an important exponent of Modernism.