The sweeping curves that comprise so much of the figure of the drunken man of Magnelli's 1914 painting L'uomo ubriaco reveal the increasingly formal and abstracted visual language that the artist was developing at this time. It was in 1914 that Magnelli travelled to Paris, visiting his friends amongst the Italian avant-garde who were based in the French capital at the time. Magnelli had already been exposed to some of the artistic developments happening in the thriving and vibrant art scene in the French capital, and in the present painting the influence of Cubism as well as the Futurism of his compatriots can be perceived. Magnelli himself was living in Florence at the time, and it was there that he painted so many of his masterpieces in 1914, the defining and groundbreaking moment of his early artistic career.
In L'uomo ubriaco, the influence of some of the contemporary movements can be seen in part from the bohemian subject matter, but it is all the more evident in the planarity and abstraction with which Magnelli has rendered the scene. The arms are graceful, supine arcs while the profile of the man's face has been captured through an almost organic succession of curves that resemble the abstract sculptures that Jean Arp would create much later. At the same time, the formality of these forms, the lines and the geometric curves, are alleviated through their contrast with the bow and the bottle. These lyrical details provide a counterpoint to the rigidly organised colourism and geometry of the rest of the painting, while also revealing the humanism that has driven its creation. The drunken man has been converted into an elegant paragon of modernity, inspiring the artist to further hone the unique visual idiom that was coming into its own at precisely this moment in history. It is an indication of the influence that Paris had on the artist, albeit at a distance, that he would later consider moving to the city, although the intervention of the First World War put paid to that idea. Nevertheless, Magnelli's thirst for contact with the avant-garde would be largely slaked during this period through the contacts he made in Paris and elsewhere both as a collector, assembling an array of masterpieces by contemporaries such as Picasso, Matisse, Gris and Archipenko for his uncle, and as an artist in his own right. Indeed, it is a tribute to the excitement raised by Magnelli's paintings, and his interest in reducing art to a minimum of means that would be all the more intense and expressive, that he was espoused by the Parisian svengali, Guillaume Apollinaire, through whose introductions Magnelli became a friend of many of the international fathers of modern art.