Valerio Adami | Biography, Works, Exhibitions

Valerio Adami was born in Bologna on March 17, 1935. After completing his scientific studies in Milan, where in the meantime the family had moved, he decided to devote himself to painting by entering Felice Carena’s atelier in Venice, followed by the meeting in 1951 with Oskar Kokoschka, then training at the Brera Academy with Achille Funi. In 1952, after his first stay in Paris where he painted Little Bambine in seggiolino and L’asino d’Empoli, he moved to London and, at the invitation of Roland Penrose, exhibited at the Institute of Contemporary Arts. In 1962 he married Camilla, with whom he settled in Arona, on Lake Maggiore. Invited to Documenta III in Kassel by Werner Haftmann in 1964, the following year he appeared in the exhibition entitled I massacri privati, Gli omosessuali-Privacy and Le stanze a canocchiale, held in Milan, the city where in 1966 he presented Immagini con associazioni at Galleria Schwarz and at Studio Marconi. His meeting with Ezra Pound in Venice dates back to this period, then his transfer to New York, where he stayed at the Chelsea Hotel: here the large canvases dedicated to hotel rooms, latrines, homosexuals were born. “Toilettes, hotels, massacri privati”, as Adami writes, “are ways of life, the other nervous system when I go out with my camera”.

1968 is the year of some important exhibitions, such as the Venice Biennale, in which Valerio Adami figures with a personal room, and the exhibitions held at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston and at the Jewish Museum in New York. In 1969 with the writer Carlos Fuentes, author of the text Lineas para Adami drawn up the year before, he stayed in Mexico and Venezuela, in Caracas, where the Museo de Bellas Artes hosted one of his personal exhibitions. In 1970 he exhibited in Paris at the Galerie Maeght, which since then became the main point of reference for his work, and the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris dedicated a major exhibition to him, which was later transferred to Ulm. The feature film he made in 1971, Vacanze nel deserto, was awarded at the Toulon Film Festival.

During his stay in Bavaria in 1974 Valerio Adami published the volume Das Reich-10 Lektionen uber das reich with the German writer Helmut Heissenbuttel. Other important editorial events follow: the book by Marc Le Bot Valerio Adami. Essai sur le formalisme critique, published in 1975, and the essay by Jacques Derrida dedicated to his work, published in the 1977 volume La verité en peinture. In 1979 he stayed in Mexico City on the occasion of an important one-man show held at the Museo de Arte Moderno, which was then transferred to the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. In 1980 Italo Calvino is the author of uattro favole d’Esopo per Valerio Adami. In 1981 he settled in the Principality of Monaco, while continuing to travel around Europe, in Madrid and London. He exhibited in 1983 at the Fuji Television Gallery in Tokyo and in 1984 in New York, the year in which he stopped dating his paintings. In December of the following year, the Center Georges Pompidou in Paris dedicated a large retrospective to him curated by Alfred Pacquement, which was later transferred to the Palazzo Reale in Milan; the rich catalogue of works is introduced by Dore Ashton. He join the Board of Directors of the Collège International de Philosophie. From 1986 is the scenography he created in the central square in Geneva for the 450th anniversary of Calvin’s reform, and from 1987 are two monumental pictorial works on the theme of the Viaggio di Perseo for the atrium of the Gare d’Austerltz in Paris. In the same year he travels to the Scandinavian countries where he exhibits in various galleries.

In 1989 he published Le règles du montage and, on the occasion of the bicentenary of the French Revolution, created a large fresco for the façade of the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris. In 1990 he presented an anthologic exhibiion at the Ivam Center in Valencia, with texts by Octavio Paz and José Jiménez. For the Park Hyatt Hotel project in Tokyo, designed by architects Kenzo Tange and John Morford, Valerio Adami created four large paintings in 1993. In 1995 the Institut du Dessin was founded. After the vast exhibitions proposed in Florence in Palazzo Medici Riccardi in the spring of 1996 and at the Museum Bochum in Germany in the following autumn, in 1997 he exhibited at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art and, presenting Gli Adami di Adami, at the Refettorio delle Stelline in Milan. He creates the poster for the Spoleto Festival for Giancarlo Menotti, which dedicates a personal exhibition to him. In 1998 the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes in Buenos Aires hosted a large retrospective dedicated to him. A collection of his writings and reflections on art was published in 2000 with the title Sinopie; in Meina, on Lago Maggiore, he creates the European Drawing Foundation.

Giacomo Balla | Biography, Artworks, Exhibitions

Giacomo Balla was born in Turin in 1871. In about 1891 he frequented for some months the Albertina Academy, until 1895, when he and his mother moved to Rome where he made friends with Duilio Cambellotti and Serafino Macchiati. He painted in a Divisionist manner with a social bent similar to that of Morebelli and Pellizza. He was interested in the world of marginalised people and took part in the activities of the Scuola della Campagna Romana together with Giovanni Cena. After having spent seven months in Paris in 1900, he returned to Rome. His studio in Via Porpora was a meeting point for Severini and Boccioni. In 1903 he took part for the first time in the Venice Biennale, and in 1909 exhibited at the Salon d’Automne in Paris, and the Salon in Odessa.

In 1910 Giacomo Balla co-signed, together with Boccioni, Carrà, Russolo and Severini, the Manifesto dei pittori futuristi and La pittura futurista – Manifesto tecnico. Between 1910 and 1912 Balla inquired deeply into the theme of movement, in works such as Bambina che corre sul balcone (Civica Galleria d’Arte Moderna, Milan), Dinamismo di un cane al guinzaglio (Goodyear collection, Buffalo), Velocità d’automobile (Museum of Modern Art, New York).

In his series Compenetrazioni iridescenti (1912-1914) the study of the dynamic function of the decomposition of light is rendered through abstract compositions, based on the interlocking of triangular forms. In 1912, the year in which Giacomo Balla decorated the home of Lowenstein in Düsseldorf, he took part in the exhibitions of the Futurist group in Rome, Rotterdam, Berlin, and Florence. In 1913 he auctioned off all his figurative works, saying “Balla is dead. Here we are selling the works of the late Balla”. In 1914 he began to compose “words in freedom” and took part in the Futurist group’s interventionist activities. He published the manifesto Il Vestito Antineutrale.

In 1915 he and Marinetti were arrested. Together with Depero he published the Ricostruzione futurista dell’Universo manifesto which promoted Marinetti’s idea of art works as “presence”, “object”, and “action”. This marked the beginning of a period of sculptural researches with various materials (Linea di velocità + paesaggio, bronze relief, 1914). Again in 1915 Giacomo Balla held an important solo show in Rome in the Angelelli room. In 1916 he co-signed, together with Marinetti, Corra, Settimelli and Ginna, the Manifesto della cinematografia futurista. He collaborated with the Florentine Futurist magazine L’Italia Futurista and was involved as author and actor in the film Vita Futurista. In 1917, for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes in the Constanzi theatre in Rome, the kinetic-light scenery for Stravinsky’s Feu d’artifice. In 1918 he held a solo show at the Casa d’Arte Bragaglia in Rome and, in its catalogue, published the Manifesto del colore. In 1919 he took part in the Grande Esposizione Nazionale Futurista at the Galleria Centrale in Palazzo Cova, Milan. In 1920 he became part of the editorial board of the Roma Futurista magazine.

In 1920-1921 he participated in the Exposition Internationale d’Art Moderne in Geneva, and in two other shows of the Futurist group in Paris and Prague. In 1921 he created the decoration and furnishing for Bal Tik-Tak, a Futurist-style ballroom. In the 1920s he took part in most of the Futurist exhibitions: Macerata in 1922; Turin, Rome, the third Rome Biennale, and New York in 1925; the Venice Biennale and Boston in 1926; Bologna, Turin, Palermo, and Milan in 1927; Imola and Turin in 1928; Fiuggi, Rome, Milan, and Paris in 1929; the Venice Biennale in 1930; the Rome Quadriennale in 1931; and again in Rome in 1932. In 1925 he took part, together with Depero and Prampolini, in the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes. In 1926 he collaborated with the Roman newspaper L’Impero and, in 1927, with Vetrina Futurista. In 1929, together with Benedetta, Depero, Dottori, Fillia, Marinetti, Prampolini, Somenzi and Tato, he co-signed the Manifesto dell’Aeropittura.

In 1937, the year after his participation in the Cubism and Abstract Art exhibition in New York, he broke polemically with Futurism and stated that “pure art is to be found in absolute realism, without which one falls back into decorative and ornamental forms”. From 1948 onwards he returned to Futurist painting. He held solo shows with Futurist works in Rome, Milan, and at the Rome Quadriennale in 1951; Florence in 1952; New York in 1954; Rome in 1956; and Paris, Milan, Madison (U.S.A.), and Turin in 1957. Giacomo Balla died in Rome on March 1st, 1958.


Afro Basaldella: Biography, Artworks, Exhibitions

Afro Basaldella, born in Udine in 1912, is one of the best-known abstract Italian painters, He began exhibiting in Milan during the ‘30s in the same period that his brother, Mirko, came to be known as a sculptor. In 1934 he moved to Rome, coming into contact with the city’s artists. He took part in national and international exhibitions including the Venice Biennale in 1936.

After the second world war his interest in abstraction became more evident. In 1949 he met Catherine Viviano who invited him to exhibit in her gallery in New York. In this period his relationship with the American scene became closer. In the same year the Director of the Department of Painting and Sculpture of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Andrew Ritchie, wrote to him about Patrick Kelleher’s presentation of his works at the museum. In 1950 he lived in the United States for eight months while preparing an exhibition at the Catherine Viviano Gallery in New York, where he returned to exhibit several times in the following years (the show in 1955 was particularly appreciated).

For the American critics Afro interpreted the Italian tradition in a contemporary abstract way, a result of his painterly researches into colour-harmony. In 1955 he was member of the awards jury for the “International Exhibition of Contemporary Painting” in Pittsburgh (the cover of the catalogue reproduced an Afro painting), and in the 1958 edition he won the second prize. Having returned to Italy, where he continued to exhibit at the Venice Biennale together with the so-called “Gruppo degli Otto” (Group of Eight Painters), he held a solo show in 1956, with a catalogue introduction by Andrew C. Ritchie.

In this period he established a close friendship with Alberto Burri, an artist with whom for a long period he shared a dialectical interest in art experimentation. Il giardino della speranza is the title of a large-scale wall painting undertaken in the UNESCO building in Paris in 1958, a work which introduced Afro to the French scene; this interest in him was confirmed by his solo show in the Galerie de France in 1961. Again in 1961, James Johnson Sweeney devoted a monograph to his work since 1950. In 1966 Syd Solomon invited him to teach at the New College Fine Arts Institute of Sarasota (Florida), and then to take part in an exhibition together with six artists, including Philip Guston, Solomon, and Marca-Relli. His painting during the ‘70s was concerned with abstract compositions with a more geometrical linear structure and clear, sharp, coloured backgrounds. After the death of his brother Mirko in 1969, Afro had various health problems.

The 1970s were characterized by an increased output of graphics and by his waning interest in politics and participating in exhibitions. He died in Zurich in 1976.

Renato Birolli | Biography, Artworks, Exhibitions

Renato Birolli was born in Verona in 1905. He studied at the Cignaroli academy in Verona from which he was expelled for “lack of discipline and excessive singing”. Birolli decided to move to Milan in 1927. He took various jobs besides undertaking diverse fresco and graphite decorations in Milan and Pavia. In 1929 he began to work as a proof corrector for “L’Ambrosiano” and so came into contact with Carlo Carrà and Edoardo Persico, the director of the Milione gallery.

He now began his career as a painter, and later joined various art groups. This was a five-year period in which he frequented such artists as Manzù and Sassu, and when he further developed the “ingenuous” style he used for his urban landscapes of 1930-31. In the Galleria del Milione in 1932 he exhibited Arlecchino (1931), San Zeno pescatore (1931), and La sposa (1932), works in which he showed his intention of recuperating a figurative language based on a kind of primary spontaneity, even while distancing himself from improvisation and technical virtuosity.

Renato Birolli was always in search of a theoretical underpinning to his painting, something that was helped by his activity as a journalist, and his ideas were expounded in his “Taccuini”, Notebooks, from 1936 onwards. In the meanwhile his participation in the 1932 “10 pittori” show held at the Galleria d’Arte in Rome had given him the opportunity to get to know Mafai and Mazzacurati and to come into contact with the Scuola Romana group. In 1935 he broke off his relationship with Persico and renewed his friendship with the critic Sandro Bini. In the following year Birolli went to Paris for the first time where he discovered the painting of Van Gogh, Cézanne and, more generally, all the stimuli that Paris could offer.

1938 was the year that marked a turning point. Renato Birolli became the prime mover of the Milanese movement “Corrente”, and became involved with cultural activities promoted by the magazine of the same name. He exhibited in group and solo shows held, from 1940 onwards, at the Bottega di Corrente gallery, which in a few years was to change its name to Galleria della Spiga, under the sponsorship of Alberto Della Ragione. During this period he became friends with Guttuso, Migneco, and he began to frequent the Hermetic poets. After 1936-37 when he had concerned himself with such challenging themes as Il caos (1936), and Eden, (1937), Birolli turned to subjects inspired to the marginalized humanity, as in his paintings Zingari (1938) and I saltimbanchi (1938). Colour maintained its dominant role in his compositions which were increasingly clear and structurally strong. In 1937 and 1938 Birolli was a political detainee.

The war broke out and, some years later, he began to disagree with “Corrente”. In the meanwhile the artist took part in various resistance activities and joined the communist party. A great number of drawings date from this period, known as “Italia 44”, inspired by the people and activities of farming life; these were to be exhibited in May-June 1945 at the Galleria Santa Radegonda in Milan.

In 1946 RenatoBirolli began to frequent Santomaso, Vedova, and Marchiori; on October the first of the same year he signed the Manifesto della Nuova Secessione artistica which marked the foundation of the “Fronte nuovo dell’arte”, the first exhibition of which took place at the Galleria della Spiga in 1947. From 1947 to 1949 he often went to France, to Paris and Brittany. The paintings from this period marked his definitive abandonment of the Van Gogh-inspired Expressionism that had characterised his “Corrente” period; he now began to deal with post-Cubist themes derived from post-1930s Picasso. His greatly reduced colour range bordered on monochrome, something unusual in his work, as can be seen in Gabbia e vaso di fiori (1948), Donna bretone (1949), and Pesca in Adriatico (1950).

In about 1950, there began to be formed the “Gruppo degli Otto”, the subject of a famous monograph by Lionello Venturi published in 1952; the group was involved in a mutual search for a supranational art. Thanks to his friend Afro, Birolli came into contact with Catherine Viviano in whose gallery in New York he held three solo shows in 1951, 1955, and 1958. From 1950-51 onwards the nature and characters of the places chosen by the artist for his portraits became the exclusive source of inspiration for his paintings. The Porto Buso and Fossa Seiore series, or the “Incendio alle Cinque Terre” and “Vendemmia alle Cinque Terre” series by now fully demonstrated his “abstract-concrete” aims in which the evocative power of colour and the search for a formal balance of the abstract elements had a predominant role.

In the final works from 1958 there was a definitive rarefaction of the objective referents; the compositions were rigorously structured and had such musically-inspired titles as Canto italiano (1958), Ricerca del vero canto (1958), and Bianco in contrasto (1959). Birolli’s works, found in many public and private collections in Italy and abroad, were greatly admired and entered such collections as those of Della Ragione, Jesi, Mondadori, Boschi, and Cavellini. Renato Birolli died in Milan in 1959.

Umberto Boccioni | Biography, Artworks, Exhibitions

Umberto Boccioni was born in Reggio Calabria in 1882; his parents were from the Romagna region. As a result of continual changes of home (his father was employed by the prefecture), he went to school in Reggio Calabria and then Forlì, Genoa, Padua, and finally Catania where he gained a diploma from the technical college. He already showed a great interest in literature and, despite his low marks, in drawing too.

In 1899, after arguments with his family, he went to live with an aunt in Rome and enrolled for a course of life drawing, at the same time studying drawing with the poster designer Matalani, because the thought the academy was too antiquated and repressive. He became friends with Gino Severini, and Giacomo Balla who, just returned from Paris, had a decisive influence on both them and other artists who frequented his studio at Porta Pinciana. He came into contact with Divisionism and gained a knowledge of contemporary French painting; he was also interested in the Symbolism of Sartorio, De Carolis, Pellizza da Volpedo, Meunier, and Klimt. Umberto Boccioni became interested in the cultural, artistic, and philosophical situation in Europe, and developed his own convictions through reading Sorel, Nietzsche, and Renan. He also wrote an unpublished novel (Pane dell’anima, 1900) and collaborated with some periodicals. In particular, together with Severini, he studied landscape and painted in the open air in the Roman countryside, taking particular notice of the atmosphere’s luminous effects.

In 1901 he made his first known drawing for the birthday of his sister Amelia, and another, a Figura maschile. In 1904 he exhibited Paesaggio at the annual show of the Amatori e Cultori, Rome, and in the following year he was to be seen again with Autoritratto. He won a painting competition and, from April 1906, Umberto Boccioni spent five months in Paris, where he studied the painting of the Impressionists, Post-Impressionists – Cézanne in particular –, investigated in depth the relationship between man and nature, and studied a more marked scansion of the planes. He then went to Russia (Tzarin, Egoritzin, Moscow, and Saint Petersburg) and, on his way back home, stopped off at Warsaw and Vienna.

On his return to Italy in December 1906, he stayed with his family in Padua where he spent a period reflecting on the experiences he had been exposed to, and also showed, as can be read in his diary, great intolerance for the limited horizons of international art, which could be seen in the Venice Biennale of that year. “I want to paint again, the result of our industrial times”, he stated in his diary; in the meantime he made use of a Divisionism in which a free and spontaneous creativity prevailed over technical minutia. He moved to Venice where, in April 1907, he enrolled with the academy of art, but after just a few months, in August he moved back to his mother and sister who had, in the meantime, moved to Milan, where he too settled. After being disoriented by the spread of Art Nouveau and the Secession art seen in Austria, as well as the doubts he had undergone while in Padua, he found Milan to be a constructive city full of ideas, anarchic tensions, a search for progress, and socialist ideologies.

On 2 March 1908 he met Previati whose Tecnica della Pittura he had already read. We have now reached the second period of the Divisionism of the pre-Futurist Boccioni, when he made use of an aerodynamic touch incorporating a light similar to that of Previati; at the same time he was attentive to psychological aspects, states of mind, reality, and the industrial society. In fact, in his portraits there were to be seen workshops and city landscapes in the process of change and full of life (Ritratto della madre, 1907; Autoritratto, 1908; Officine a Porta Romana, 1908), and an emphasising of swirling light (Controluce, 1909-1910). In his graphic work of the same time he was influenced by the lines of Munch, Klimt, Durer, Beardsley and also by the illustrations by Previati for Poe’s tales. Again in 1908 he exhibited his pastel Interno at the Espozione Nazionale di Belle Arti in Milan.

Umberto Boccioni had a meeting in 1909 with Filippo Tommaso Marinetti which was to prove fundamental for his development. In that very year Marinetti had published, in the 20 February issue of “Figaro”, his Manifesto del Futurismo and, on 10 February 2010, together with Russolo, Carrà, Balla and Severini, Boccioni signed the Manifesto dei pittori futuristi which, in a rejection of the past, glorified the myths of modern progress. This was followed on 11 April by the Manifesto tecnico della pittura futurista. This, by pinpointing “movement” as the basis of life, for which things and figures amalgamated, and the viewers themselves were virtually placed at the heart of the painting, reflected the fundamental ideas of “dynamism” and “simultaneity” in a personal interpretation of Bergson’s vitalistic concept of duration. In fact for Boccioni, and differently from Balla and Russolo, the time dimension was not considered to be a succession of moments, nor was movement considered as the optical principle of retinal persistence. It was considered as an overall aspect of consciousness (“duration”) in which memories of actions from the recent or distant past are perceived simultaneously; what was of interest was the reason for the action. From this period dated Il lutto, 1910 (two old women, one with white hair, the other with red, are portrayed simultaneously in three attitudes of tragic pain), and La città sale (1910-1911) (a single and symbolic upward swirl that involves a horse, a man, and buildings under construction, all repeated from different views). In July 1910 Marinetti presented a group of forty-two paintings by Boccioni at the “Mostra d’estate” in Ca’ Pesaro, Venice.

In 1911 he discovered Cubist painting and, in 1912, Cubist sculpture, and was influenced by both. On 11 April 1912 he published the Manifesto della scultura futurista in which, as a result of the idea of abolishing “finished” lines and “closed” statues, the objects, atmospheric planes, and the environment around things are all joined together. Consider, for example, the paintings Sviluppo di una bottiglia nello spazio (1911); Antigrazioso (La Madre) (1911). In 1913 he made a series of sculptures which in an increasingly strong manner synthesised the interaction between space, matter, and movement (Forme uniche nella continuità dello spazio and Sviluppo di una bottiglia nello spazio).

In March 1914 he published his book Pittura Scultura Futuriste (Dinamismo plastico) and the unpublished Manifesto dell’Architettura Futurista. He took part in all the Futurist exhibitions in Italy and abroad until 1914. In 1915, on Italy’s declaration of war, together with his Futurist friends he enlisted in the Voluntary Battalion of Cyclists and left for the front. The experience of war led him to isolate himself and rethink his ideas. In his painting the dynamic element increasingly gave way to a Cézanne-like plasticity (Ritratto del Maestro Busoni). After a furlough spent in Milan (from December 1915 to July 1916), Umberto Boccioni was recalled for an artillery regimental campaign and went to Sorte, near to Verona, where shortly after he died.

Gregorio Botta | Biography, Artworks, Exhibitions

Gregorio Botta was born in Naples on April 18, 1953. In 1980 he enrolled at the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome, where he followed the courses of Toti Scialoja, graduating in 1984. After his debut, marked by participation in some exhibitions held at the Galleria Rondanini and from his first one-man exhibitions at the Galleria Il Segno, both in Rome, the artist attracted the attention of the critics on the occasion of some important exhibitions, including Trasparenze dell’arte italiana sulla via della seta curated by Achille Bonito Oliva, set up in Beijing in 1993, the XII Quadriennale and the Biennale dei Parchi at the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna in Rome, held respectively in 1996 and 1998, as well as the one-man show, also in 1998, introduced by Ludovico Pratesi at the Istituto Italiano di Culture in Cologne.

Wax, lead, iron, glass are the elements with which Gregorio Botta practices “an art of taking away, of little, of less, hoping to arrive at an art of nothing. An art that disappears and leaves only, like a vibration, like a secret engine, the action for which it was born” (Gregorio Botta, 2001).

His are archetypal forms (the circle, the goblet…) in which the image gathers again, as if seeking in them “a point of slow surfacing of a submerged truth, which concerns our being more than our appearance”. The universe of shapes elaborated by Gregorio Botta therefore appears “silent and cautious in revealing itself; muffled by that whiteness that envelops it, as if it lived, and took nourishment, from the amnion of a womb; slow to confess to the beholder, with his asking, submissively, a long look above himself. A gaze that discovers, in the end, the enchantment: and is not afraid of it” (Fabrizio D’Amico, 2001).

In 2006 he presented a selection of his recent works at the Magazzini del Sale in Siena, in which peculiar elements of his language return in a singular game of contrasts: the lightness and transparency of glass, the opacity and hardness of iron. The introduction of the movement is now unprecedented, which animates some installations such as La Porta di Pietro, inspired by the Madonna del Parto by Piero della Francesca.

Alberto Burri | Biography, Artworks, Exhibitions

Alberto Burri was born in Città di Castello, near Perugia, in 1915. He graduated in Medicine in 1940 and, enlisted as a medical officer, participated in war operations in North Africa. Taken prisoner in 1943 in Tunisia by the British, he was later sent to the American concentration camp in Hereford, Texas, where he began painting. Returning to Italy, in 1946 he settled in Rome to devote himself to painting. In 1947 it was the first solo exhibition at the Gallery La Margherita di Gaspero del Corso and Irene Brin, with works still of a figurative nature. In his second solo exhibition: Bianchi e Catrami, also at the Galleria La Margherita, in May 1948, proposes abstract works for the first time. He then begins to process the first Catrami. In 1949 he made SZ1, the first printed Sacco.

In January 1951 he participated in the foundation of the Gruppo Origine, together with Mario Ballocco, Giuseppe Capogrossi and Ettore Colla and participated in the group’s inaugural exhibition, which disbanded the following year. 1952 opens with the solo exhibition Neri e Muffe, at the Galleria dell’Obelisco in Rome. During the year he moved to Via Margutta: Robert Rauschenberg, present in Rome for almost a year, visited Alberto Burri’s studio, thus being able to see the Sacchi.

With the Chicago and New York exhibitions of 1953, international success began. Alberto Burri: paintings and collages is the title of the first American solo exhibition, staged at the Allan Frumkin Gallery in Chicago between January and February 1953, then transferred at the end of the year to Eleanor Ward’s Stable Gallery in New York. Meanwhile, Burri met critic James Johnson Sweeney, then director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, who invited him to the Younger European Painters exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. In 1955, he attended The New Decade: 22 European Painters and Sculptors at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, in an international exhibition at the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh, and in the São Paulo Biennale in Brazil. The staff at the Fine Art Center in Colorado Springs confirms Burri’s growing fortune in America, supported by Sweeney who signed the artist’s first monograph the same year. On May 15, 1955, he married, in Westport, California, the Ukrainian-born American dancer Minsa Craig, who was known in Rome the previous year.

Burri, meanwhile, continues to make numerous Combustioni (with wood, canvas and plastic) and experiments with the characteristics of wood. 1956 and 1957 were marked by numerous solo exhibitions in Europe and the United States. Towards the end of 1957 he realized the first Ferri, in which he exploited the possibilities offered by welding technique within a two-dimensional pictorial discourse. The exhibition activity is quite intense in 1959 and early 1960. In June Alberto Burri obtained a room at the Venice Biennale, where he received the award of the International Association of Art Critics. In the same year Giovanni Carandente made the first documentary of his work.

A long journey between Mexico and the United States and the after-effects of delicate surgery slow down his production, although he continues to exhibit in solo and group exhibitions. At the beginning of the 1960s, in close succession, in Paris, Rome, L’Aquila, Livorno, and then in Houston, Minneapolis, Buffalo, Pasadena, the first anthological exhibitions that, with the Plastiche, become real retrospectives in Darmstadt, Rotterdam, Turin and Paris (1967-1972). Between December 1962 and January 1963, the Marlborough Gallery in Rome hosts an exhibition dedicated to Plastiche which, after the Ferri, represent a new, and unexpected, turning point. In the late 1960s he bought a house in Los Angeles, California, where he spent the winter months until 1990.

The 1970s recorded a progressive scarcity of technical and formal means and a renewed commitment to monumental solutions. In 1973 the cycle of the Cretti began. In 1976 Alberto Burri made the Grande Cretto Nero on display in the Franklin D. Murphy Sculpture Garden at the University of Los Angeles (UCLA). Another similar work is on display in Naples, in the Museum of Capodimonte. The most spectacular evolution, however, was represented by that of Gibellina (Trapani), of almost 90,000 m² on the rubble of the old Gibellina. Work, which began in August 1985, was halted in December 1989 due to a lack of funds. In 1977 he had an important anthological exhibiton at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York.

Among the cycles conceived of with a polyphonic structure are Il Viaggio (1979), presented in Città di Castello and then in Munich, Orti (1980), Florence; Sestante (1982 c.), Venice, Annottarsi (1984-86) in the Galleria Sprovieri, Rome; and Annottarsi 2 (1987) in the 1988 Venice Biennale. There are also the large-scale installations currently to be seen in the Ex Seccatoi del Tabacco, Città di Castello, where, on his suggestion, the Fondazione Palazzo Albizzini Collezione Burri was established, a foundation devoted to the study and preservation of his work. In the early 1990s, Alberto Burri and his wife Minsa Craig left California and settled in Beaulieu-sur-Mer, in Côte d’Azur (France). Despite his advanced age, experimentation with new materials continued: his last work is Metamorfex, a cycle of nine works presented, by his friend Nemo Sarteanesi, in the Ex Seccatoi. Burri died in Nice on February 13, 1995, a month before his 80th birthday.

Massimo Campigli | Biography, Artworks, Exhibitions

Max Ihlenfeld, later known as Massimo Campigli, was born in Berlin in 1895. After having spent his childhood in Florence, in 1909 he moved with his family to Milan, where he came into contact with Futurist groups. In the first youth he manifests literary rather than pictorial propensities; a paper of his, entitled “Giornale + Strada. Parole in libertà” was published in Lacerba in 1914. During thr first World War he felt prisoner and was deported to Hungary. In 1919 he was sent to Paris as a correspondent of the Corriere della Sera and here he began his artistic career; in the first hard years spent in the France, Campigli alternates the profession of journalist with that of painter.

Massimo Campigli held his first exhibition in Rome at the Galleria Bragaglia in 1923. During the period of training he denies Futurism and approaches Cubism, from which derived the taste for a rigid geometrization of the figures. He moves, as a self-taught, among the most diverse experiences, trying to combine them. Strongly influenced by Egyptian art, which had fascinated him since he was a child, he is sensitive to the suggestions of contemporary painting, from Léger to Ozenfant to Carrà and to Picasso. In Paris he came into contact with the nine-hundred-century circles and joined the group of “Italiens de Paris”.

In 1928, he returned back to Rome for a short stay; he discovered Etruscan art at the Museum of Villa Giulia, which struck him like a electrocution. He denies previous research and inaugurates his typical way, to which he remained faithful to the end: canvases with earthy colors, dominated by female presences of archaic evocation. In the same year Massimo Campigli was invited to exhibit at the Venice Biennale thirteen works. The following year he took part in the second exhibition of Italian artists in Geneva and held a successful solo show at the Galerie Bucher in Paris: the paintings on display were all purchased by museums and private collectors. Thanks to the success achieved, he inaugurated a series of exhibitions in Italy and abroad: from the Galleria del Milione in Milan (1931) to the Jiulien Levy Gallery in New York (1932), at the Hasefer in Bucharest (1932).

The painter remained in Paris until 1933, when the serious economic crisis that then affected Europe forced him to re-join Milan. Here he signed, in December, the Manifesto della pittura murale with Sironi, Carrà and Funi and, with the (now lost) wall decoration of the Palazzo dell’Arte, began an intense activity as a frescoer. In 1934 he painted Le bagnanti and Le spose dei marinai, successfully exhibited at the Quadriennale in Rome. Three years later he performed the fresco I costruttori for the Palazzo di Giustizia in Milan, as well as painting for the wall of the Italian pavilion at the Venetian Biennale. In 1938 a commission formed by Carlo Anti, rector of the University of Padua, Giuseppe Fiocco and Giò Ponti, approved his sketch for the decoration of the Liviano atrium, seat of the Faculty of Letters and Philosophy. The following year, in just five months, Massimo Campigli completed the great fresco. During the war he lived between Venice and Milan.

In 1946 he exhibited sixty works at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam (which has eight of his paintings). At the 1948 Venice Biennale he was dedicated a room where twenty-two paintings were gathered together. In the second post-war period the importance recognized in Campigli as a leading exponent of Italian painting is attested by a long series of exhibitions in prestigious venues: Galerie de France, Paris (1949); St. George Gallery, London (1950); Palazzo Strozzi, Florence (1953); Civica Galleria di Arte Moderna, Turin (1960), up to the great anthology set up in Palazzo Reale, Milan (1967). From 1949 onwards he continuously dedicated himself to painting, alternating his stays, in Paris, Milan, Rome and Saint Tropez, where he died in 1971.

Giuseppe Capogrossi | Biography, Artworks, Exhibitions

Giuseppe Capogrossi was born in Rome in 1900. His father, Guglielmo, belongs to an ancient and noble Roman family, that of the Counts Capogrossi Guarna. His mother, Beatrice Tacchi Venturi, comes from a family originally from San Severino Marche. Graduated in Law, in 1923-24 he studied painting with Felice Carena and in 1927 he went to Paris with Fausto Pirandello. It is the first trip to the French, followed by many more in the following years. Present in 1930 at the XVII Venice Biennale, he began to take part regularly in the “Sindacali” exhibitions, the Venice Biennale and the Triennale, Milan.

At the beginning of 1933 in Milan Capogrossi exhibited in the “Group of new Roman painters” at the Galleria del Milione, epicenter of Italian Abstractionism. In October they decided to draw up the Manifesto del Primordialismo Plastico. In December in Paris Capogrossi took part in the Galerie Jacques Bonjean at the Exposition des Peintres Romains with Cavalli, Cagli and Sciavi, presented by Waldemar George as “Ecole de Rome”. In 1937 he was featured in three international exhibitions: The 1937 International Exhibition of Paintings in Pittsburgh (the painting Ballo sul fiume won the second prize), Anthology of Contemporary Italian Painting at the Cometa Art Gallery in New York and a review of Italian art at the Akademie der Kunste in Berlin. In 1939 he had a personal room at the III Quadriennale in Rome.

In 1942 Giuseppe Capogrossi won an award at the IV Premio Bergamo with the painting Ballerina. In these years in his painting, also reflecting on Cézanne, he begins a transformation where the color lights up in the ranges of reds, purple and orange, while the brushstroke comes alive. In 1946 he inaugurated his first oneman show at the Galleria San Marco. Since 1947 he has been staying repeatedly in Austria, near Lienz, where he draws piles of wood, suggesting increasingly geometrized forms. In 1948 at the XXIV Venice Biennale he presented Le due chitarre (1948), now in the collection of the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea in Rome, the result of the new neocubist phase.

In 1950 in Rome, to the consternation of the critics, he presented his new abstract works at the Galleria del Secolo. The catalogue presentation was by Cagli who spoke of a reduction to black and white of a vast range of tones a denunciation of the gravity of the times, and the use of a constant element determined by a group of marks aimed at expressing the archetypes of group consciousness. In 1951, together with Ballocco, Alberto Burri, and Colla, he founded the Gruppo Origine while, in the following year, he became part of the Spatial Movement in Milan. In 1954 Michel Seuphor published the first monograph about his painting, which made no mention of his figurative phase. In 1955 he took part in “Documenta I” in Kassel, at the III São Paulo Biennale in Brazil, while Giulio Carlo Argan wrote the catalogue presentation for his solo show at the Galleria del Cavallino. Having by now become internationally famous, the artist held solo shows in Paris (at the Rive Gauche, 1956), and then London (1957), New York (Leo Castelli, 1958), and Brussels (1959).

In 1962 at the XXXI Venice Biennale, he was given a room to himself and came joint first for the Biennale’s prize together with Ennio Morlotti. In 1964 he exhibited at the Renato Cardazzo’s Galleria del Cavallino in Venice, invited by Renato Cardazzo, dealer who owned also the Galleria del Naviglio in Milan, where Capogrossi often exhibited. In 1967 Giulio Carlo Argan and Maurizio Fagiolo published the third monograph about his abstract work. In 1971 he was awarded the “Vent’anni di Biennale” prize, while the ministry for public education awarded him its gold medal for cultural merit. Giuseppe Capogrossi died the following year in Rome. Only in 1974, after the artist had destroyed or reused various figurative canvases, did the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna organise an anthological exhibition of his whole output.