Athos Menaboni - History and Style

Athos Menaboni: History and Style

By Elizabeth Mangone, MCMA Curatorial Intern, Summer 2020

Athos Menaboni was an Italian born, Atlanta based artist. He began studying as an artist at a young age, learning from a marine painter, a muralist, and a sculptor before attending the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence, Italy. A few years after moving to the United States in 1921 he settled in Atlanta, Georgia with his wife Sara. He lived and worked at his home just outside the city until his death in 1990. Menaboni is most famous for his series of bird paintings, but he also did several murals and corporate commissions in and around the Atlanta area.

            Menaboni’s work has several hallmark characteristics. His paintings are illustrative, with an emphasis on the contours of his subjects. They are also incredibly detailed and lifelike. He also often, though not always, placed his subjects on neutral backgrounds, capturing a moment rather than a scene. All these features together create paintings that encourage reflection and stillness in a busy world. Menaboni’s paintings are art for art’s sake, reflections of beauty without an ulterior motive.

            Menaboni’s pieces are all united, no matter the style or subject, by exquisite craftsmanship. No detail is ever left out, whether it be a brick or a feather or a droplet of water. The passions and true appreciation for the beauty inherent in the world are apparent in every piece of art that Menaboni made. As a young man, Menaboni had extensive training in visual arts from a variety of artists. This likely influenced his ability to capture nearly picture perfect likenesses, such as in his bird series, or to loosen his style and become more painterly, as in the illustrations he did for his wife’s manuscript, Pedro.

Athos Menaboni was an exceptionally talented artist who created images that still bring joy to viewers today. Despite never having seen his work before coming to the MCMA, I have been genuinely overwhelmed by its beauty and quality. The beauty of Menaboni’s world, captured forever on paper, has bled over into my life. I find myself seeking out small, quiet moments of beauty that I never would have noticed before. Menaboni’s artwork not only preserved the natural world around him, but created a living legacy for all of us to learn from and enjoy.

 

(Mayan Carving in the Jungle, Oil on Paper, 1960)

Image courtesy of Russell Clayton

(Eastern Crow and Eastern Kingbird, Illustration Board, 1942)

Image credit: https://arts.kennesaw.edu/zuckerman/menaboni/photo_gallery.php