Afro Basaldella | Original prints, lithographs, etchings and illustrated books
Afro Libio Basaldella (Udine, 4 March 1912 - Zurich, 24 July 1976) was an Italian painter, considered one of the most important post-war artists and one of the main exponents of Italian Informal along with Alberto Burri and Lucio Fontana, he belonged over the years thirty also at the Roman School (the same as Giorgio de Chirico and Renato Guttuso).
After the death of his father, painter and decorator, Basaldella completed his first studies in Florence and Venice, where he graduated in painting in 1931.
In 1928, at the only age of 16, with the brothers Mirko and Dino, he exhibited at the first show of the Friulian avant-garde school (Udine), and the following year at the 20th Exhibition of the Bevilacqua La Masa Opera (Venice). Also in 1929, thanks to a grant from the Marangoni Foundation of Udine, committed to promoting and supporting young local artists, he went to Rome where he met Scipione, Mario Mafai and Corrado Cagli.
In 1932 Basaldella spent a period in Milan, attending his brother Mirko and the studio of Arturo Martini. The following year he exhibited in Milan at the Galleria il Milione.
In the Lombard capital Afro had the opportunity to meet other Italian artists of the time, such as Birolli, Ennio Morlotti and Arturo Martini himself.
In 1935 he participated in the Rome Quadriennale. Moreover, on several occasions he exhibited his works at the Venice Biennale. His first solo exhibitions are dated 1936 and 1937, and were held at the Galleria Cometa in Rome.
In the early post-war period, Afro's painting was called "neocubist". In 1950, thanks to the presentation of his friend Corrado Cagli, Afro went to New York, where he began a twenty-year collaboration with the Catherine Viviano Gallery. The different cultural climate, and the variety of the American art scene, deeply influenced Afro, and his work developed accordingly towards abstraction.
Also in the period 1949-1950, he created, together with a self-portrait, Tenaglia and camera obscura for the important Verzocchi collection of Forlì, today at the Pinacoteca Civica of that city.
He was among the artists who exhibited in the exhibition "The New Decade: 22 European Painters and Sculptors", presented in various cities in the United States. His works were included in the Documenta I, in Kassel (Germany). In the mid-fifties, Afro's art was known internationally, and his authority was decreed also in Italy, in 1955 he joined the commission for the invitations to the VII Rome Quadrennial and the following year, in 1956, gets the prize for the best Italian artist at the Venice Biennale; always in the same period he joined the Group of Eight, gathered around the art critic and historian Lionello Venturi. In these years a sincere friendship and esteem with Alberto Burri is consolidated.
In 1957 Afro taught at Mills College in Oakland. In 1958 he obtained the commission to paint the mural for the UNESCO headquarters in Paris. The mural was called "The Garden of Hope", and was included in a series of works that also included works by Karel Appel, Arp, Alexander Calder, Roberto Matta, Miró, Picasso and Rufino Tamayo.
Afro continued to exhibit his works on the international circuit. He was invited to the second Documenta, and exhibited at MIT and in various European museums. He won the first prize at the Carnegie Triennial in Pittsburgh, and the Italian prize at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. The Guggenheim bought his 1957 "Night Flight" painting.
In the early seventies Afro began to suffer health problems. He died in 1976. The following year, Cesare Brandi published a monograph on him. In 1978 the National Gallery of Modern Art in Rome paid tribute to him by dedicating a large retrospective to him. In 1992 the complete work was exhibited at the Palazzo Reale in Milan. The Raised Catalog of Afro's work was presented in November 1997 at the American Academy in Rome, and in 1998 at the Guggenheim Foundation in Venice.