Giovanni Bruzzi(Firenze-1983).

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I’ve always thought that painting could absolutely not do without figurative elements to be considered as great art. For this reason my production of pictures and drawings periodically consists in figures. Portraits, jazz musicians, female nudes, gamblers, Harlequins, gladiators and warriors have populated my canvasses, both small and big ones, for more that forty years. I will always recall with affection the friends and girls that have - patiently but also enthusiastically -posed for my various paintings, enabling - through their figures - my artistic creation to be expressed by works of exceptional level and fundamental importance. The iconography of my work is then completed by the most different subjects (e.g. old sign-boards, comic-strips, cereus, sponges, animals, birds, flowers, vegetables, shells, objects, dummies, dolls, puppets and countless illustrations in the field of magic and esoterism), and this because I’ve always loved exploring, in any direction, in search of new and stimulating forms to draw and paint.

Giovanni Bruzzi

Il modello Giorgio nello studio di Giovanni Bruzzi in via degli Artisti 6 a Firenze nel 1960; accanto il dipinto Uomo seduto per il quale ha posato (è anche riconoscibile nel dipinto Golia ucciso del 1955 e Cool Jazz del 1957, nel ruolo del batterista).

La bella Isolde posa per Nudo biondo nello studio di Giovanni Bruzzi in 13 Carrefour Odeon a Parigi nel 1960.


Forlina: Mr Giovanni Bruzzi, where were you born?
: 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 Paris.

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.

And then?
I came back to Florence, because I was fed up with being an emigrant artist.

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 last?
Until 1980.

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 enforcement forces?
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 gambling-house keeper?
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 compositive skills.

A great modern painter?
Norman Rockwell.

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 famous actors.

Anselmo Forlina

Pupi Avati e Giovanni Bruzzi sul set del film "Regalo di Natale" (marzo 1986).

Giovanni Bruzzi (con le carte in mano) sul set del film “La rivincita di Natale” (Cinecittà, settembre-ottobre 2002); si riconoscono Pupi Avati (in piedi, al centro), Gianni Cavina e Alessandro Haber (seduti al tavolo) e sempre seduti (di spalle) Carlo Delle Piane e George Eastman.

Giovanni Bruzzi (al centro) al "Maurizio Costanzo Show" (3 marzo 1988).

Giovanni Bruzzi al "Maurizio Costanzo Show", a destra, l'attore Massimo Serato (7 aprile 1988).

Da destra, Alberto Castagna e Giovanni Bruzzi a “Sarà vero?” (Canale 5, 22 ottobre 1993)

Giovanni Bruzzi a “Italia mia benché” (RAI TRE, 24 novembre 1995).

Giovanni Bruzzi a “Frontiere” (RAI UNO, 13 febbraio2000).

Giovanni Bruzzi a "Porta a Porta",condotto da Bruno Vespa ( RAI 1, 5 febbraio 2004).

Giovanni Bruzzi a “Porta a Porta”, condotto da Bruno Vespa, a destra, MaurizioVallone, vicequestore di Napoli ( RAI 1, 5 febbraio 2004).

Giovanni Bruzzi a “TV Artscape” (Adelphia Cable10,Maryland 2005).

Giovanni Bruzzi, con la moglie paola, davanti al "Thomas Jefferson Memorial" a Washington D.C.(ottobre 2005)

Giovanni Bruzzi a "Porta a Porta",condotto da Bruno Vespa ( RAI 1, 18 gennaio 2006).

Giovanni Bruzzi a "Porta a Porta",condotto da Bruno Vespa, a sinistra Barbara Palombelli ( RAI 1, 18 gennaio 2006).


La cerimonia della nomina a Cavaliere Ufficiale della Repubblica Italiana di Giovanni Bruzzi (sinistra), da parte di Andrea De Martino (centro) Prefetto di Firenze e di Silvano Gori (destra) Assessore del Comune di Firenze nel Palazzo Medici Riccardi-Salone Carlo VIII
(2 Giugno 2006).

Giovanni Bruzzi nel suo studio in Via Varchi a Firenze nel 2006.

Giovanni Bruzzi con Maurizio Costanzo a "Buon Pomeriggio" ( Canale 5, 31 ottobre 2006).

Giovanni Bruzzi in casa di Mario Fratti a Manhattan (2010). Mario Fratti, scrittore e commediografo, autore del musical "Nine", con protagonista a Broadway Antonio Banderas e al cinema Daniel Day Lewis.

Giovanni Bruzzi al "Dunkin Donuts" a Hoboken (2011).