Forlina: Mr Giovanni Bruzzi, where were you born?
Bruzzi: in Florence, in 1936.
What is your zodiacal sign?
Gemini, the symbol for the double.
When did you start painting?
When I was a young lad. Please note that my
great-grandfather was Stefano Bruzzi, a famous painter of landscapes and
animals of the 19th century.
Could you mention a teacher of yours?
Rodolfo Margheri, Professor of “Graphic Techniques” at
the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence.
Have you also served for the country?
Yes, in 1958-1959, I did my national service in the Army “Transmission
Corps of Engineers”.
And after that?
I held the first personal exhibition at the “Galleria L’Indiano”
of Florence, the one owned by Ottone Rosai, to be clear.
And what where the results?
I understood that before being able to make a living by
selling my works I would’ve had to wait many years.
I went to Paris, where I lived from 1960 to 1964.
And what did you do?
I tried to become part of the high-rank cultural life of
With what results?
I got to know the poet André Breton, the “father” of
Surrealism, who I sketched a portrait for as well as a big canvas on jazz, for
which the black drummer Kenny Clarke - one of the be-bop stars - posed. In
addition, Marc Vaux - director of the “Galerie du Foyer des Artistes” in
Montparnass - organised an important personal exhibition for me in 1961.
Did you manage to sell your paintings back then in Paris?
Absolutely not, I was too young and too unstable to have the
attention of the artistic scene.
And how did you manage to make a living?
I worked - always by night - as faux-client in night
clubs, as waiter in bistros and as watch-keeper for a gang of Greeks
that played the prohibited three cards game on the Underground.
I came back to Florence, because I was fed up with being an
And what happened?
For money reasons I entered the clandestine gambling world -
mind you, from this side of the bank -.
I’m starting to gather the importance of you being a
Gemini, because you’re really dual. How long did this peculiar experience
How was the organisation structured?
I only worked in “5 stars” illegal gambling casinos in Florence, at
the Thermal Baths, in Versilia and in Rome, featuring roulette, chemin
de fer, trente et quarante, baccarat, craps, zecchinetta,
poker, telesina, and I also worked as a clanda in the
race-courses of Rome.
Goodness me! And did you ever have any problems with law
Some inevitable incidents occurred but they were perfectly
normal and in the end an amnesty rubbed out everything.
In this field, what excellent characters are to be mentioned?
Renis, my boss, the Italo-American gangster Joe Adonis, “Er Criminale”
clandestine bookmaker in Rome and Albert the Marseillais, a baccarat
super-cardsharper, for whom I painted portraits.
And what was happening to your painting in that period?
My public carrier as a painter was not affected by this. I’d
like to remind you that I’ve taken part in more than 50 national contests and
I’ve held more than 100 personal exhibitions exhibitions in most important
Italian cities from Milan, to Florence, from Rome to Bologna. Art and the underworld are two
microcosms that never meet.
When you came out of that circuit what did you do?
I wrote six memoirs, because I felt the need to describe the
various facets of the gambling underworld seen from “behind the scenes”.
I guess you earned a lot of money through this activity and
if I’m not wrong you’ve never repented that, haven’t you?
Of course. I couldn’t, for any reason, wait until the art
world - with its boorish merchants and its fake critics - took notice of me, so
in the meantime I took a fair ”mite” in order to live comfortably.
Did your collaboration for the screen-play of the film “Regalo
di Natale” (Christmas present) and “La rivincita di Natale” (Cristmast
revenge), derive from your job as
Exactly. The director Pupi Avati was looking for an expert
in the field to describe the dramatic poker game - the key scene of the entire
story - and needed an advisor right on the set for all the scenes regarding
gambling. Thus he chose me, I reckon a lucky intuition, given the great success
of the film.
You’ve often been guest or main character on TV.
It’s true, all the most important programmes by RAI and
Mediaset - starting from “Maurizio Costanzo Show” to Porta a Porta” - have wanted me as
reliable witness of the clandestine gambling world, with its cheats and its
tricks, and I thus became a character.
Is your art going on fine then?
I’d say that the situation is overall good, but still not
optimal despite the personal exhibition at “Castel Sant’Angelo” in Rome in 2002
and the exclusive sale agreement with “NewVision Gallery” for the US, during
2004-05, that involved personal exhibitions in Washington D.C. and Frederick.
What is the genre of your painting?
I’ve always been convincingly in favour of representative
art. To be precise, I’d say I’m a fanatic for it because, to me, without
technical skills painting can not exist.
Then what about other trends, from abstract to conceptual?
Festival of trash, like many public exhibitions
organized by mercenary critics, paid with idiot Italians money.
Have you also illustrated books?
Yes I have ilustrated, some relevant books on Cagliostro, the domain of magic,
esoterism and mithology.
What do you think about official criticism?
I’d like to answer mentioning an emblematic example: in 1984 Giulio Carlo Argan -
former Rome major trumpeted arts theorist - considered as
authentic and even wrote on a catalogue about the fake sculptures of Modigliani’s
heads made by some cheerful lads from Livorno in less than an hour in order to
loudly make fun of the so-called experts of contemporary art, including Carlo
Ludovico Ragghianti, Daria Durbè, Cesare Brandi, Enzo Carli and Jean Le
Marie, director of the French Academy of “Villa Medici” in Rome.
However, there must be a critic that you think highly of?
Certainly Armando Nocentini, who has invited me to the “Biennale
internazionale del Fiorino 1973” (International Biennal of the Florin),
and Umberto Baldini, whom I own the fact of being “proposed for Bolaffi 1978”,
but I also esteem those who understand painting, even outside committed
criticism, such as Mina Gregori, Professor of “History of Art” at the
University of Florence, and Raffaele La Capria, writer and screen-player, who
have praised me with a presentation, or such as Marc Fumaroli, Professor of “Rhetoric
and Society” at the College of France in Paris, who has expressed his praise
in a letter, and also Alberto Moravia, who desired to add his autograph writing
on one of my paintings.
A picture you admire in particular?
“The Turkish bath” by Jean-Auguste Dominique Ingres, as
for standard size canvases, and the “Napoleon coronation” by Jacques-Louis
David, as for giant artworks, both supported by unequaled technical and
A great modern painter?
Besides the ones you’ve already mentioned, have you
portrayed any other famous persons?
Yes, I’ve portrayed Pupi Avati and the actors of the film,
the writer Carlo Cassola and, in 1996, Antonio Di Pietro, when he was Minister
of Public Works.
To conclude, are you married?
Very happily since 1967 and I’ve got a son who gave me a grandson.
Some more news ?
On june 2nd 2006 I have been appointed Official Chevalier of the Italian
Republic (“Cavaliere Ufficiale” della Repubblica Italiana), for artistic
merit and in 2012 I held
a major solo exhibition at the "Brenda Taylor Gallery"
in New York, with great success .
And what about future?
In 2014, based on my autobiographical book
"Professione biscazziere" (in italian "biscazziere" means "the
man who runs an illegal casino"), was completed a screenplay,
from a major Hollywood studio, a movie about my experiences with
the title "The dark Side of La Dolce Vita" which will be played by