Luigi Veronesi was part of the Parisian Abstraction-Creation group, with which Kandindsky, van Doesburg, Arp, and Schiwtters were all affiliated; Veronesi had also studied under Moholy at the Bauhaus. By 1936, he was painting a series of sequential abstractions and had exhibited in the first group show of abstract art in Italy. He decided that he could no longer abide by the “fictitious movement” of the static image, however, and set out to paint “through the means of cinema.” Over a span of nearly fifty years, he made ten short 16mm films, many of which were handmade experiments that explored color and geometric form, starting in 1938. Several were lost or destroyed. His first direct film was Film No. 3 (1940), which combined footage exploring lighting effects on the face of an actor with paint-on-film applications. Many of Veronesi’s films sought to trace correspondences between color and other art forms. Film No. 4 (1941) was completely abstract, composed according to a Fibonacci progression. It was intended to accompany a performance of Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale, for which the painter had also designed marionettes. The film thus represents both an interest in visual music as well as the kind of rigorous systems-based filmmaking that would be exhibited in many structural films. Veronesi would go on to create a number of painted “visualizations” of music, including pieces by Webern, Bach, Satie, Bartok, Mozart, and Stockhausen and realized on very wide canvases filled with adjacent, vertical, colored rectangles depicting the timbre and volume of particular notes.
His abstract and hand-painted Film No. 6 (1941) demonstrates that he shared both Lye and McLaren’s love of jazz, as his chromatic developments are here set to Duke Ellington’s “Mood Indigo.” The film exhibits Fischinger-esque black spirals against a shifting blue and violet ground, as well as minimalist black-and-white passages of a circle and diagonal line that resemble Richter’s animations. Veronesi explored poetry in his Film No. 8 (1943), in which he created hand-painted forms to accompany a poem by Soupault Philippe. After the war, Veronesi returned to painting, although he made two more hand-painted films, Allegreto (1950) and Film No. 13 (1981-85–interestingly, he never made Film No. 10, 11, or 12).