Carlo Zinelli’s mother died when he was two years old. His father, a carpenter, was unable to take care of him (Carlo had seven brothers and sisters) and sent him to work on a farm away from his family. At the age of eighteen, he became a butcher’s apprentice and soon developed a passion for music and painting. Enlisted to fight on the front during the war, he endured severe shocks from which he would never recover. He had to be institutionalized in 1947 at the psychiatric hospital of San Giacomo near Verona because he suffered from hallucinations and fear of persecution. For the next ten years, Carlo had to put up with the terrible hospital conditions of those times. In 1957, the Scottish sculptor Michael Noble convinced Pr Mario Marini to open a workshop for artists. From then on, Zinelli‘s life was linked to this workshop. For the next fourteen years, he would produce almost three thousand drawings, mostly gouaches. His work as well as his life were organized around the number four : he turned the key four times in the key hole, repeated four times the same word -, similarly to the holes in the bodies of his characters. In the final phase of his work (1966-1969), although he completely forgot the real meaning of words, writing became an important part of his pictorial production. Words are laid out as if they were drawings, which possess magical power. The San Giacomo Hospital closed in 1971 and Carlo Zinelli was transferred to the Marzana Hospital. His routine changed and he almost did not paint. Eventually, the Marzana Hospital also closed ; he wa taken in by a family that did not take care of him.
SEE ALSO :
Andreoli, Vittorino, et Sergio Marinelli. Carlo Zinelli. Catalogo generale. Venice : Marsilio, 2002.
Azzola, Maria A. “L’Ecriture poétique et musicale de Carlo. Aux sources de la créativité”, in Ecritures en délire. Milan : Collection de l’Art Brut and 5 Continents, 2004.
Marinelli, Sergio, ed. Carlo : Tempere, Collages, Sculpture, 1957-1974. Exhibition catalogue. Verona : Museo di Castelvecchio, 1992.
Phillips, John. Fotografo. Exhibition catalogue Retrospettiva e reportage inedito dal San Giacomo di Verona (28 November 2010 - 30 January 2011). Milan : Silvana Editoriale, 2010.
Sgarbi, Vittorio, ed. Arte, genio, follia. Il Giorno e la notte dell’artista. Siena, Complesso Museale Santa Maria della Scala, 31 January – 25 May 2009. Milan : Edizioni Gabriele Mazzotta, 2009.
Tossati, Bianca, ed. Beautés insensées, Figures, histoires et maîtres de l’art irrégulier. Milan : Skira, 2006.