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LOLA COSTA: An Artist on the Pathway of the Gods

Painters Lola Costa and Lea Colliva lived on either end of this ancient Roman footpath and did not know each other, even by reputation. Yet, interesting parallels can be drawn between their lives and artistic experience which, in turn, reflect commonalities characterizing the lives of most early twentieth-century female painters in Italy. Thanks to two monographic exhibitions, the artists embark on a posthumous journey to each other’s ‘hometowns’, bridging a gap across the Apennines, from the first Florentine house, Il Palmerino, to the hillside heart of Monzuno.

During an exhibition in summer 2018, a collection of Lea Colliva’s works debuted at the small fourteenth-century villa, once former residence of Lola Costa. Built as a watchtower and used as a convent throughout its multi-century history, Il Palmerino is currently a center for art and literature by women, with a specific focus on early twentieth-century studies and British author Vernon Lee, who made it her haunt and home, before Costa’s arrival in 1935. Now, in September 2019, Costa’s art visits Monzuno, where Colliva produced a lifetime’s worth of paintings and poetry, particularly in the summer season, when artists such as Corrado Corazza and Giacomo Manzù would come to stay with her family at Villa dell’Ospitale—intent on coaxing late-summer paradise into their painted world.

“Lola was not keen on expressing the angst typical of the post-war era,” Parretti explains. “She never experimented with Abstractionism, but this did not mean she was indifferent to European trends. Her painting reflects their nuances. This said, there is nothing drastic in Lola’s art. It does not protest the status quo, it embraces it. In real life, change is inevitable but often gradual. So it was for her paintings. Capturing simplicity on canvas was quest enough… the purple of artichoke flowers or perfumed lavender in Provence-style ceramic. That is what made her restless.”

This essay by Linda Falcone was originally published in the exhibition catalog ‘Lola Costa: An Artist on the Pathway of the Gods’, and used with permission.


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