AFRO 1950-1970

Biennale Arte 2022
MUVE Contemporaneo

Ca’ Pesaro – International Gallery of Modern Art Venice

Galleria Internazionale d’Arte Moderna Ca’ Pesaro, Venice
Afro 1950-1970

AFRO 1950-1970 From Italy to America and back

Opening: Wednesday, 20 April 2022 |

Scientific direction by Gabriella Belli

Curated by Elisabetta Barisoni and Edith Devaney

Collaboration with Archivio Afro Foundation, Rome.

Afro, Occhio di lucertola (eye of lizard), 1960, oil on canvas, 130 x 152 cm. Centre Pompidou, Paris Musée National d’art moderne / Centre de crèation industrielle © Adagp, Paris

Exhibition: 21 April – 23 October 2022

Opening hours: 10 – 17 Last entrance 16 pm

Ca’ Pesaro Galleria Internazionale d’Arte Moderna

Santa Croce 2076, 30135 Venezia

Vaporetti From Piazzale Roma:

Line 1 San Stae stop From Santa Lucia Railway

Station: Line 1 San Stae stop From Lido di Venezia:

Line 1 San Stae stop

Afro 1950-1970. From Italy to America and back

For MUVE Contemporaneo programme Ca’ Pesaro – International Gallery of Modern Art is hosting Afro 1950-1970 Dall’Italia all’America e ritorno / From Italy to America and back, exhibition dedicated to one of the leading exponents of Italian painting in the second half of the 20th century. America was a great testing ground for Afro Basaldella and gave him the opportunity to meet members of the New York school, including Pollock, De Kooning and Gorky. With forty-five masterpieces arriving from collections and museums around the world, the show pays homage to an artist who is also well represented in the collections of Ca’ Pesaro. It explores the relationship that developed in the 50s between Italian art and American abstract expressionism and action painting. In collaboration with the Fondazione Archivio Afro.

On the occasion of the Biennale Arte 2022, Galleria Internazionale d’Arte Moderna at Ca’ Pesaro will host Afro 1950-1970. From Italy to America and back, which highlights Afro Basaldella, one of the leading exponents of Italian painting in the second half of the 20th century.

The exhibition will trace a history, still little known, of the connections between Italian and American art, exploring exchanges and collaborations between Afro and artists such as Pollock, De Kooning and Gorky.

From left: Plinio de Martis, Cy Twombly, Ruth Kligman,
Afro e Willem De Kooning (Rome, 1959).
Courtesy Fondazione Archivio Afro, Rome

Afro Basaldella

Born in Udine in 1912, Afro became steeped in the cultural and artistic milieus
of Venice and Rome for a long time. From the Venetian period Afro took the
knowledge of art that had developed at the turn of the Renaissance, from Titian
to Tintoretto, up to the 17th century.
Between the mid-Thirties and the outbreak of the Second World War he took
inspiration from the artists who worked in the lagoon and in Rome, such as
Scipione, Mario Mafai, Corrado Cagli, Armando Pizzinato, Giuseppe
Santomaso. In Milan he frequents the studios of Arturo Martini and that of
Ennio Morlotti and become a friend of Renato Birolli.
The postwar period records a great cultural ferment in Italy and various
thoughts developed around modern art, most of them giving rise to artistic
groups. From the Fronte Nuovo delle Arti (New Front of the Arts) to the
Concrete Art Movement, from Spatialism to the Gruppo Origine (Origin
Group), up to Corrente.

a photo shoot from LIFE mag c. late 50’s

Afro briefly joined the Gruppo degli Otto (Group of the Eight) with Birolli,
Morlotti Antonio Corpora, Mattia Moreni, Giulio Turcato, Emilio Vedova and
Santomaso, although always remaining independent. In 1949 he was selected to
participate in the renowned Twentieth Century Italian Art exhibition held in
1949 at the MoMA and in 1950 he was invited for the first time by Catherine
Viviano’s gallery in New York, the American gallery that later hosted numerous
solo exhibitions of his work until 1968. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Afro
was a tireless explorer of European and American visual culture; in New York
he sees the works of Arshile Gorky,while many American artists arrive in
Rome, at different times, such as Cy Twombly, Philip Guston, Robert
Rauschenberg, Conrad Marca-Relli, Sebastiàn Matta and Willem de Kooning,
to whom Afro lends his studio in 1959.
Trough 45 works shown with some selected drawings, significant archival
materials and original videos, the International Gallery of Modern Art in Venice
intends to present the crucial years of Afro’s production, when the artist is in

close contact with the American world, an exposure which contributed to the
full development of his own clear and distinct visual language, which unites the
intimate assimilation of Venetian painting and tonal color to influences from
synthetic cubism and abstract art.
Afro’s production from 1950 until 1970 will be accompanied by emblematical
links to Italian and American art scene, suggested through works, letters and
photographs. Within these, it is highly noteworthy the spiritual connection,
distant in time, with Arshile Gorky, present in the show with the stunning
Untitled, 1944 on loan from the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice, as
well as Afro’s friendship with Willem De Kooning, exhibited at Ca’ Pesaro with
two precious works from 1960’.
Afro’s work thus becomes, in the monumental rooms on the second floor of Ca’
Pesaro, a great tale, poetic and powerful, intimate and at the same time
universal. Where memory and history are enriched with the artist’s humanity;
all underpinned by a consummate and dexterous skill and an enduring love of



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