Studio per tempo coperto, 1960
Signed and dated 'afro 60' lower right
Mixed media on wood
11 1/2 x 15 1/2 in, 29.3 x 39.3 cm
Afro Basaldella, known as ‘Afro’, was a key protagonist of abstraction in post-war Italy. Alongside Alberto Burri and Lucio Fontana he sought to create an innovative visual vocabulary with an...
Afro Basaldella, known as ‘Afro’, was a key protagonist of abstraction in post-war Italy. Alongside Alberto Burri and Lucio Fontana he sought to create an innovative visual vocabulary with an emphasis on the gestural aesthetic. Created at the apogee of his career, this vibrant work signals the two way dialogue that emerged between Afro and the Abstract Expressionists during the 1960s when his works became increasingly spontaneous and dynamic.
In 1948 Afro was first introduced to the gallery owner Catherine Viviano, who was about to open an exhibition space devoted entirely to Italian contemporary art in East 57th Street in New York. At this time Afro was experimenting with his own personal take on Cubism, Surrealism and metaphysics. However, he was only too keen to escape from an Italian art scene he found stiflingly conservative and engage on an international level.
Throughout the 1960s Afro made frequent visits to the USA, where he held regular exhibitions at the Catherine Viviano Gallery, including a solo show in 1964. During this time he became closely associated with the American Abstract Expressionists, including Gorky, Kline, Pollock and de Kooning, who had stayed in Afro’s studio in Rome in 1959. He shared their interest in redefining the boundaries of art following the war: “They have given new life to a set of values and beliefs that, though born in Europe, were beginning to become sterile through complacency and mannerisms”.
'Studio per ‘Tempo Coperto’ ' is a study for a large painting of the same year, and both works show the looser, improvisatory abstract style Afro developed at this time. The bold colour, gestural brushwork and single picture space point towards American ‘action painting’. Nevertheless, there is a sense of balance and harmony to the work, typical of Afro’s mature style, which recalls the elegance and refinement of the classical culture of his native Italy. This work is a brilliant example of Afro’s highly individual and rhythmic abstraction which has earned him international acclaim.
Estate of the artist