Agostino Bonalumi was an Italian painter, considered one of the most relevant figures of abstract art of the 20th century.
Born on 10 July 1935 in Vimercate in the province of Monza. Second born of 4 children, before him his older sister Rosa and then his two younger brothers, Teodoro and Pier Enrico. Agostino Bonalumi, from a very young age, helped his pastry chef father to support the family and at the same time attended compulsory school.
Once he finished his studies, Agostino Bonalumi began to show interest in art, defining it himself as a way to get to know the world. When he is not working he paints and continually tries to exhibit his works, until 1957, when for the first time he held a personal exhibition at the Galleria Totti in Milan.
In the following two years, frequenting the well-known Brera district in Milan, the artist met Enrico Baj founder, together with Sergio Dangelo, of the so-called Nuclear Art Movement , born in 1950. It was Baj who introduced him to Enrico Castellani and Piero Manzoni, with whom Agostino Bonalumi founded the art magazine Azimuth in '59. The magazine was released in just two issues, the first in 1959 and the second in 1960.
Also in 1959 the collaboration between the three artists was interrupted for personal reasons. In this period the painter begins to appear with his own artistic individuality. It was towards the end of the same year that the extroflexed canvas appeared for the first time. The extroflections are the expression of an art that is not only made to be looked at, but creates an illusion of movement with its plasticity, and also seems to want to be touched, to lead the observer to discover the three-dimensionality and therefore the complexity of world. The play of chiaroscuro that painters used to give depth here goes beyond illusion to become concrete and undeniable. An art that transcends appearance and all its theories to show itself for what it really is: a combination of visual sensations which, from the figurative level, invade the spectator's space, sharing his own reality.
In 1961 the painter, who had now become a promise of Italian art thanks to his participation in numerous international exhibitions, married Giuliana Oliva, whom he met in the workplace which he still cannot give up. The same year he decided, supported by his wife, to dedicate himself exclusively to art and in 1964 he signed his first contract with Arturo Schwarz, exhibiting at the inauguration of his gallery the following year.
In 1967 during the exhibition "The space of the image", Bonalumi exhibited his first environment called Habitable Blue. Emblem of the unique and original nature of the thought of an artist who is almost a philosopher, this creation is found at the crossroads between sculpture and architecture, with no possibility of separating these two worlds. Built on a circular base, the immediate impression is that of an art that becomes, as the title suggests, an environment. It therefore becomes livable. And it does so in a way that seems to welcome the observer by enveloping them in its monochromatic note. The wall is dotted with extrusions which, following one another from bottom to top, create an optical illusion effect and almost a tactile perception, also favored by the lenticular floor.
In his private life, Agostino Bonalumi tries to fill the gaps in his studies, having stopped in middle school, studying philosophy, and showing particular interest in phenomenology.
From the beginning of the 70s to the end of the 80s the artist created a new series of works defined as "grid-like" which would continue until 1989.
Having reached 1990, and having exhausted the cycle of grid works, Bonalumi reworks the concept of extroflection based on a steel structure that almost seems to come to life.
In 2002 he was also awarded the "President of the Republic" award issued by the Accademia di San Luca of Rome.
In the following years, he continued his artistic activity, producing his latest works with the steel rod technique.
Ill for some time, Agostino Bonalumi died following a collapse on 18 September 2013.