Afro Basaldella biography

Afro Basaldella pittore

Afro Libio Basaldella was an Italian painter and one of the main exponents of the Italian Informal movement. Born in Udine in 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 1931. Afro Basaldella's talent soon became noticed, in fact in 1928, at the age of only sixteen, together with his brothers Mirko and Dino, he exhibited at the 1st Exhibition of the Friulian Avant-garde School and the following year at the 20th Exhibition of the Opera Bevilacqua La Masa in Venice.

In 1930, thanks to a scholarship received from the Marangoni Artistic Foundation of Udine, which was awarded for the purpose of promoting and supporting young local artists, Afro Basaldella, together with his brother Dino, he goes to Rome where he has the opportunity to come into contact with the artistic environment of the capital. It was here that he met the artists Scipione, Mario Mafai and Corrado Cagli and became part of the Roman School. From 1931 he began to participate in various Trade Union Exhibitions. In 1932 he spent a period in Milan together with his brother Mirko, starting to frequent the studio of Arturo Martiniand came into contact with artists such asRenato Birolli and Ennio Morlotti . In 1933 Basaldella exhibited at the Galleria del Milione in Milan, together with the artists Bosisio, Pittino and Taiuti. In the same year he also exhibited at the I Exhibition of the National Fascist Fine Arts Union in Florence. In 1935 he participated in the Quadrennial of Rome. In 1936 he participated in the Venice Biennale, where he also exhibited in 1940 and 1942. In 1936 and 1937 his first personal exhibitions were held at the Galleria Cometa in 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 Quadrennial in Rome. In 1941 Afro Basadella began teaching mosaic at the Academy of Fine Arts in Venice.

After the First World War, after his experience at the Roman School, Afro Basaldella approached 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 the Catherine Viviano Gallery. During this period Basaldella remained fascinated and influenced by the cultural climate and artistic movements present at the time. These experiences will profoundly influence the Artist who will rework them in a personal way, finally bringing him closer to abstraction. In 1952 he joined the Gruppo degli Otto and with them took part in the XXVI Venice Biennale. In the following edition Lionello Venturi dedicates a critical essay to Afro Basaldella. Within this essay, Venturi highlights many of the artist's qualities such as technical ability, precision and passion for painting and natural elegance. In 1955 he was among the artists exhibiting 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 I in Kassel.

In the mid-1950s, Afro Basaldella's art had achieved consensus and fame, especially at an international level. Recognition also from his native country did not take long to arrive. In fact, in 1955 he joined the invitation commission for the VII Quadrennial of Rome. The turning point, however, was when, in 1956, he obtained the award for best Italian artist at the Venice Biennale. In 1957 Afro Basaldella taught at Mills College in Oakland, California. Furthermore, several exhibitions were 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. The artists Karel Appel, Jean Arp, Alexander Calder, Roberto Matta, Joan Mirò, Henry Moore, Pablo Picasso and also worked together with him to decorate the new UNESCO building in Paris. Rufino Tamayo. Between 1959 and 1960 he took part in Documenta II in Kassel and won the prize for Italy at the Solomon R. Guggenheim in New York. The Guggenheim buys his painting Night Flight from 1957.

In 1961 the curator of the Guggenheim Museum in New York, J. J Sweeney, dedicates 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 suffered a severe loss, namely the loss of his brother Mirko. From the beginning of the seventies, Basaldella began to have health problems. His last years are characterized by an intensification of his graphic work and a reduction in both his pictorial and exhibition activity. In 1971 Afro Basaldella won the President of the Republic's prize for the Academy of S. Luca. This year he held several exhibitions both in Italy and abroad. The main countries hosting his exhibitions are Paris, New York and Germany. Afro Basaldella died in Zurich in 1976.