Giovanni Battista Crema was born in Ferrara on April 13th. Son of a lawyer, Carlo Crema, and Maria Cottica, already as a child he showed an out of the ordinary ability in drawing, so much so as to convince his parents to introduce him to the rudiments of painting with Angelo Longanesi Cattani, appreciated portraitist of the local high society, before entering academic studies.
A cultured, curious and enthusiastic man and artist, he enters the world of contemporary art at a very young age, even if the advance of the avant-gardes, to which he looks with skepticism, convinces him to isolate himself more and more and to undertake a completely solitary search.
After completing his training in Naples, with Domenico Morelli and Bologna, with Domenico Ferri, Giovanni Battista Crema arrived in Rome in 1903.
And it is in the Eternal City that, attending Giacomo Balla, he is seduced by the novelties of Divisionism, to which he will remain faithful in the decades to follow. Adherence to this technique, at first, is expressed in proletarian subjects, of social denunciation, such as the triptych The history of the blind, present at the exhibition of the Società degli Amatori e Cultori, in 1905.
His first solo show at the Società Amatori e Cultori was inaugurated in Rome in 1907, with landscapes, sensual nudes and bourgeois portraits on display, all characterized by a lively divisionism. A second solo exhibition followed in 1914 with a choice of works that demonstrate his full artistic maturity, always in the sign of ‘pointillism’. The portraits and scenes of family life recur frequently in the artist's entire production and those executed starting from 1918, that is, after his military experience, are of particular interest, as they reveal a renewed sensitivity.
After the war, affections became a safe haven for the artist, where he could shelter from the ugliness of an increasingly violent and ruthless society. If during the first decade of the twentieth century he had frequented some of the liveliest meeting places of the Capitoline culture, such as the famous Caffè Aragno, in the aftermath of the conflict Crema began to lead an increasingly secluded life, spending most of his time in the house - studio in via Tagliamento, together with his wife and children Carlo and Valeria. In 1946 his wife Luisa Tucci died. Four years later he took part in the International Jury of the Mostra Mondiale di Arte Sacra in Rome. Giovanni Battista Crema died in Rome in 1964.
The first monographic exhibition dedicated to the painter was inaugurated in Ferrara in May 2021, in the rooms of the Estense Castle, curated by Manuel Carrera and Lucio Scardino, which finally does justice to the work of this extraordinary Italian artist of the twentieth century.