Enrico Baj was painter ,sculptor,essayist,writerand one of the most important post-war artists.
He was born in Milan in 1924. He studied at the Liceo Ginnasio Giovanni Berchet, then he enrolled in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Milan to abandon it in favor of the Faculty of Law and the Academy of Fine Arts of Brera, which he attended in parallel.
Throughout his life he has always had relationships with Italian and foreign poets and writers including André Breton, Marcel Duchamp, Raymond Queneau, Edoardo Sanguineti, Umberto Eco and joined various artistic movements including theSurrealism, theNew Realism and thePataphysicsuntil he founded in 1951 with Sergio Dangelo and Gianni Dova theNuclear Movement. The founding principle of the Nuclear Movement consisted in the belief that all forms disintegrate, because the new forms of man are those of the atomic universe. The whole of humanity, according to Baj, has become a slave to technology, and in order to find the new reality it is necessary to descend into the atom, since that is where the entire universe is located.
In 1953, together with Asger Jorn, he founded the International movement for an imaginist Bauhaus , in controversy with Max Bill's School of Ulm; in 1954 the two artists gave life to the International Ceramic Meetings in Albissola Marina at the Ceramiche Mazzotti, in which Lucio Fontana, Emilio Scanavino, Karel Appel, Guillaume Corneille, Roberto Matta, Aligi Sassu, Édouard Jaguer participated.
In the 1950s he collaborated with the avant-garde magazines Il Gesto, Boa and Phases. Over the years, the passion for writing increased, leading him to the publication of numerous books, including Pataphysics (1982), Automitobiography (1983), Let's learn painting, Fantasy and reality with Guttuso, Ecology of art.
In 1957 he signed the manifesto Against Style and held his first solo show abroad, at Gallery One in London; in 1959 it joined the Manifeste de Naples. In 1962 he participated in the exhibition The Art of Assemblage in New York, on the occasion of which he met Duchamp. Between 1963 and 1966 he spent a lot of time in Paris, where he joined the Collège de 'Pataphysique. In 1964 he obtained a personal room at the Venice Biennale and in the same year he exhibited at the Milan Triennale.
The artist elaborates and composes his works with extremely particular and unusual materials, such as wood, fabrics, plastic or even with hydraulic pipes.
The choice behind the use of these materials is justified by the fact that Baj himself believes that they represent thenew world we live in. In fact, the artist used to represent his works as himmirrorof a deformed reality, totally different from what we usually see, since humanity has lost its shape, becoming a slave to appearance and technology.
In his works, Enrico Baj uses different techniques, venturing intodripping, incollage, ininlay or even inlacing.
Among his most famous works that have marked the history of contemporary art we remember the series ofGeneralwhich grotesquely represent generals in service uniforms. Baj's interest in this topic arises precisely from the fact that the author fully lived the period of the Second World War, observing the destruction of the sense of humanity in its most complete form.
Thefuneral of the anarchist Pinelliit is a huge carving work, 3 meters high and 12 meters long. Inside the composition, there are 18 figures carved by Baj, including Pinelli, who is praised by the characters on the right side and practically lynched by the characters (always in military uniform and with monstrous features) on his left. This work represents the interest that Baj has always had in the field of public justice, an opinion that has often made him take sides (ideologically) on the side of revolutionaries, who would like to change the world in favor of a sense of humanity stronger than the current one.
The series of sculptures of theC.plastic rags they represent one of the symbols of modern social status, the ties in fact, made of a material from which the whole modern world is now invaded. It is a collection of works with a strong connotation of social criticism.
AlsoMannequins, together withEpater the robots, represent a very strong message of social criticism, in which Baj discusses the society now totally lost in the process of infinite progress, of which he is increasingly a slave and less master.
In theTribal maskswe find instead the warning of Enrico Baj towards the western society of the late twentieth century, which has lost any sense of psycho-cultural evolution, to return (humanly speaking) to the primitive stage. It is all obviously an oxymoron towards unbridled progressivism, criticized by Baj in practically all of his works.