Carla Prina was born in Como on the 5th of December 1911 as the first child of Mario Prina and Marcella Lavizari. Carla’s father was a lawyer and her mother was a noblewoman from Valtellina. In 1913, Carla’s sister Giuliana was born. The two spent their childhood surrounded by luxury and wealth, while attending the Ursuline school.
Carla and Giuliana’s bond grew stronger as time went by, even if their different personalities were often clashing; Carla was confident and outgoing, while Giuliana was shy and pensive. However, they both loved to read classic literature, from Tolstoj to Hemingway, and to travel in Italy, as well as abroad. In 1932, Carla Prina moved from her hometown to Milan, where she attended the Academy of Arts of Brera under the supervision of the painter Aldo Carpi. In 1936, she graduated in painting and that same year she set off for Rodi, where she enrolled to the High Culture Institute.
In 1937, Carla was an apprentice at one of the most important schools of the time, the Free School of Nude of the French Academy in Rome. When she came back to Como, Carla started to spend a lot of time with a group of influential artists like Mario Radice and Manlio Rho. They both appreciated her work and she often spent time at Rho’s house and studio. It is here that in 1942 Carla Prina met Alberto Sartoris, an architect from Turin with Swiss nationality, who would later become her husband.
Mario Radice, just like Manlio Rho, was of prime importance in Carla’s life and the two developed a tight bond, enriched by sketches and mutual respect. In the 40s, the Group of the Abstractionists of Como came to life and included architects and artists like Carla Prina, Manlio Rho, Mario Radice, Aldo Galli and Carla Badiali.
In 1942, the Group of artists displayed their work at the XXIII Biennial exhibition in Venice in the futurist pavilion. Thanks to this exhibition, the artists gained international fame and recognition. In the same year, Carla Prina married Alberto Sartoris and joined him in Lutry in Switzerland.
In 1943, Carla Prina displayed her work with the Group of Como in the futurist room at the Quadrennial exhibition in Rome. The artist’s career developed mainly in Italy, France, Switzerland, Germany, Spain and in the Canary Islands.
Together with her husband Alberto Sartoris and other artists, Carla founded the Escuela de Altamira in Spain where she worked side by side with the famous surrealist Juan Mirò. After a couple years, Carla Prina moved with her husband to Cossonnay, a town in the French-speaking part of Switzerland.
Carla Prina lived a long life, full of self-irony, important meetings and unforgettable parties.
In 2008, at the age of ninety-six and ten years after the death of her husband, the painter passed away in Cossonnay.