Portraits with an Electric Charge
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Published in: November-December 2022 issue.



Modern Light
Shelburne Museum, Vermont
June 25–October 16, 2022


Modern Light
by David Brody
Rizzoli Electa. 160 pages, $55.



I   AM NOT a great believer in fate. Still, it has a way of surprising one. Over ten years ago, while reading the letters between artist Romaine Brooks and writer Natalie Barney in Tulsa, Oklahoma, I saw a letter from Brooks mentioning that she wanted to see an exhibition of works by Italian-American artist Luigi Luciano. I had never heard of him, so I jotted down his name on an index card and promptly forgot about him. So when I heard there was a new book on Lucioni—David Brody’s Luigi Lucioni: Modern Light—I jumped at the chance to explore his work at last.

            Lucioni enjoys a reputation as the “painter Laureate” of Vermont, and on the face of it, he looks like many American scene painters of the 1920s and ’30s. Picture a very different world from the one we find ourselves in now, a rural America before the Civil War. Imagine pristine mountains, upland pastures, aging barns, silos, and an occasional church spire. Communities are tidy, neat, predictable, and secure in their routines.

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Cassandra Langer, a writer based in New York City, is the author of Romaine Brooks: A Life (Wisconsin).