Giulia Napoleone was born in Pescara in 1936. When she was twenty she moved to Rome where she was part of the lively artistic and literary scene (Flaiano, Carlo Levi, Maccari, Mazzacurati…). She also travelled abroad frequently: to Australia, North Africa, the Pyrenees and Scandinavia.
In Rome she obtained a second higher qualification at the Liceo Artistico I, and attended the Scuola del Nudo at the Accademia di Belle Arti. She became an enthusiast of photography and of music (she studied the violin). In 1958, she met Morandi: those were the years of her first exhibitions; more and more so, the artist felt a strong need to concentrate solely on painting. In 1965 she began to study and work at the Calcografia Nazionale (National Engraving Centre), a relationship which she consolidated later, between 1974 and 1976. She also had a long stay at the Rijkmuseum in Amsterdam in order to perfect the art of copperplate engraving. Through Seghers, Rembrandt and the German masters of the 15th Century, she perfected the techniques of the burin, the pierce punch and mezzotint to bring to life “constellations of illuminated pins”. Around half way through the Seventies, she took part in Galleria dell’Arco, run by Giuseppe Appella. There were intense exchanges between artists, poets and writers, which led to the artist coming closer to the world of poetry, contemporary and not. From Lucretius to Mallarmé, from Baudelaire to Sbarbaro, folders and art books abound: “the journey of emotions which perhaps resemble a linear stenography, at the threshold of writing”. Then the colour explodes in her watercolours, shown in exhibitions in the early Eighties.
In 1997 the Istituto Nazionale per la Grafica dedicated a considerable anthological show to her work, a collection of “works on paper”, produced in over thirty years of work, with copper-plate engravings, inks, watercolours and pastels in which abound “spiders webs in a single colour whose intensity varies continuously, and the flow of grids of signs, exact, mathematical” beyond which extends “the silence which corroborates an unlimited space”. In 2001 she held a retrospective at Villa dei Cedri in Bellinzona, Switzerland. She has also received a number of national and international awards.
During her career Giulia Napoleone has had the chance to meet and work with artists such as Piero Dorazio, Pietro Consagra, Giulio Turcato, Mimmo Rotella, and scholars and poets such as Italo Calvino, Alfonso Gatto and the publisher Vanni Scheiwiller, revealing her great passion for poetry and literature.
In recent years, she has devoted herself above all to watercolour and to livres d’artiste. From between 2003 and 2009 she took up teaching again, this time at the Private University Science & Arts of Aleppo, in Syria.
Giulia Napoleone has donated 102 prints to the Gabinetto Disegni e Stampe degli Uffizi, including punched prints, mezzotints, etching and woodcuts, which document the various developmental phases of her printmaking production between 1963 and 2003.
After a brief figurative period (Foglie, where an image was obtained by impressing some leaves directly onto a plate), she veered towards representations where the pure vision of the outside world is replaced initially by almost molecular microstructures (as in Germina) and, subsequently, by the reiteration of geometric patterns (for example in Strutturazione). Between 1971 and 1973 in the Cielo series the secrets and limits of the celestial sphere are captured by miniscule elements to create an almost telescopic picture.
In the period 1974/1976 she made some very significant punched prints, among them Trittico: the geometric pattern is proposed again here, but it is at the same time challenged, and the signs and images are obtained by playing with the intensity of the impression created. In Ricerca di luce, dated 1972, and in the following Riverberi and Diffrazione, the artist studied the light vibrations and the optical effects of light. In 1976 she carved a series of woodcuts, experimenting luminous effects created with very close parallel lines (Senza titolo). In the same period Giulia Napoleone produced many mezzotints in which she achieved increasingly softer greys, to the point of turning black into light (Sentieri; Ombre; Numana; Bosco a Cibona). In works such as Il Fenomeno Futuro, … per ombre sperse, Il sonno del maggiore, Traccianti, Rimanenze, her fascination for literature clearly shines through.