Carlo Zinelli (1916-1974),an Italian painter, is recognized as an important figure of the Outsider Art. Zinelli produced some 2,000 paintings, during the last 15 years of his life, when he was interned at the psychiatric hospital for schizophrenia.
After his military service, in 1938, he enlisted in a battalion of Alpine hunters, Zinelli went to fight in the Spanish war. He returned only two months later, rather shaken by the experience. He remained two years in convalescence before being reformed at the end of 1941
From 1941 to 1947, Carlo alternated periods of work and lucidity with crises of aggression and anxiety that periodically lead him to a psychiatric hospital where he underwent electroshock and insulin treatments. But, as of April 9, 1947, he will be definitely interned for paranoid schizophrenia. Carlo will then sink into an isolation where his very language will become incomprehensible.
For years, his creativity is limited to, scratching drawings in the pavement or graffiti on walls, using small stones. In 1957, he was given the opportunity to express himself and develop his talents, thanks to the opening in the hospital, of a workshop of free expression initiated by the sculptor Michael Noble. From there, Carlo spent nearly eight hours a day painting. His violence and aggressiveness disappearing.
Very quickly exhibitions of the works made at the workshop are organized. Zinelli was the only Italian painter present at the Kunsthalle in Bern in 1963. Shortly afterwards, Jean Dubuffet discovered his works and acquired a considerable number of them, which he included in his collection of Art Brut.
From 1969, Carlo's production slowed, following his transfer to a new hospital, but he painted until 1973, before dying of pneumonia on 27 January 1974 at the Chievo hospital , In Verona.
The paintings of Zinelli are recognizable by their human or animal silhouettes pierced with holes or stars, standing out on a plain background. They inevitably remind us of children's drawings by their apparent naivety, perspectives and details.