Afro Basaldella

AFRO Basaldella | Works and biography



Afro Libio Basaldella was one of the most influential Italian artists of the second post-war period, as well as one of the main exponents ofInformal Italian.

Afro Basaldella was born in Udine on March 4, 1912 to Leo Basaldella and Virginia Angeli. After the death of his father, also a painter and decorator, he completed his first studies in Florence and Venice where he graduated in painting in Venice in 1931.

Afro Basaldella's talent was quickly noticed, in fact, in 1928 at the age of only sixteen together with his brothers Mirko and Dino, he exhibited at the First Exhibition of the Friulian Avant-garde School and the following year at the XX Exhibition of the Bevilacqua Opera La Masa in Venice.

In 1930, thanks to a scholarship received by the Marangoni Artistic Foundation of Udine, which was awarded in order to promote and support young local artists, Afro Basaldella, together with his brother Dino, went to Rome where he had the opportunity to get in touch with the artistic environment of the capital. Right here he knows the artists Scipio, Mario Mafai and Corrado Cagli and becomes part of the Roman school.

From 1931 he began to participate in various trade union exhibitions.
In 1932 he spent a period in Milan with his brother Mirko starting to attend the studio of Arturo Martini. During his stay in the Lombard capital, Afro Basaldella got to know artists such as Renato Birolli and Ennio Morlotti.

In 1933 Basaldella exhibited at the Million Gallery of Milan, together with the artists Bosisio, Pittino and Taiuti. In the same year he also exhibited at the 1st Exhibition of the National Fascist Union of Fine Arts in Florence.

Subsequently Basaldella moved again to Rome. In 1935 he participated in the Rome Quadriennale. In this period, thanks to the flourishing climate of collaborations with artists Corrado Cagli, Giuseppe Capogrossi, Emanuele Cavalli, Roberto Melli, Alberto Ziveri, was born on Tonalismo, pictorial form that dominated in the Roman School during the thirties.

In 1936 he participated in the Venice Biennale, where he will also exhibit in 1940 and 1942. In 1936 and 1937 his first personal exhibitions were held, hosted by Comet Gallery From Rome. Also in 1937, in collaboration with Cagli, he dedicated himself to the decorations of the International Exhibition in Paris. In 1939 he participated in the Third Rome Quadrennial.

From 1941 Afro Basadella began teaching mosaic at the Academy of Fine Arts in Venice.

After the first postwar period, after the experience at the Roman School, Afro Basaldella approached the neocubism. In 1950 he went to the United States, more precisely to New York, where, thanks to the introduction of his friend Corrado Cagli, he began a twenty-year collaboration with Catherine Viviano Gallery. During this period Basaldella remained fascinated and influenced by the cultural climate and the artistic movements present at the time. These experiences will deeply influence the Artist who will rework them in a personal way, finally bringing him closer to abstraction.

During the 1950s, Afro Basaldella experienced a particularly happy moment in his life. In this period it is thelyrical autobiography to characterize his works in which veiled fragments of dreams, memories and experiences are reported.

In 1952 he joined the Group of Eight and with them he took part in the XXVI Venice Biennale. In the next edition Lionello Venturi dedicates a critical essay to Afro Basaldella. Within this essay, Venturi highlights many of the artist's qualities such as technical skill, precision and passion for painting and natural elegance.

In 1955 he was among the artists who exhibited at the United States traveling exhibition The New Decade: 22 European Painters and Sculptors and his works were included in the first edition of Documenta in Kassel.

In the mid-fifties the art of Afro Basaldella had achieved acclaim and fame especially at an international level. The recognition even from his native country is not long in coming. In fact, in 1955 he joined the commission of invitations for the VII Quadrennial of Rome. The turning point, however, was when, in 1956, he was awarded the prize for best Italian artist at the Venice Biennale.

In 1957 Afro Basaldella taught at Mills College in Oakland, California. In addition, there are several exhibitions held in this state during his stay.

In 1958 he was commissioned to paint a mural for the Unesco headquarters in Paris. The work is entitled The Garden of Hope, or the garden of hope. Together with him, the artists Karel Appel, Jean Arp, Alexander Calder, Roberto Matta, Joan Mirò, Henry Moore, Pablo Picasso and Rufino Tamayo also work for the decoration of the new Unesco building in Paris.

Between 1959 and 1960 he participated in the second edition of Documenta in Kassel and won the prize in Pittsburgh, and was also the winner of the prize for Italy at the Solomon R. Guggenheim in New York. The Guggenheim buys his painting Night Flight dated 1957. In 1961 the curator of the Guggenheim Museum in New York, J. J. Sweeney, dedicated a splendid monograph to him.

In 1966 he began teaching at the New College of the Fine Arts Institute in Sarasota, Florida. From 1968 until 1973 he taught at the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence.

In 1967 Afro Basaldella suffers a severe mourning, or the loss of his brother Mirko. From the beginning of the seventies Basaldella begins to have health problems. His last years are characterized by an intensification of the graphic work and a thinning out of both pictorial and exhibition activity. In 1971 Afro Basaldella wins the prize of the President of the Republic for the Academy of S. Luca. In this year he holds several exhibitions both in Italy and abroad. The main countries hosting his exhibitions are Paris, New York, Germany

Afro Basaldella died in Zurich in 1976.