Writing about Baldessari, the emphasis is almost always placed on the aspect of his pictorial training as a student at the Academy of Fine Arts in Venice with Guglielmo Ciardi, a great painter of light.
And, moreover, you should outline that right in the year of his diploma, 1914, Baldessari in Venice won the “Scala” prize for landscape.
But Baldessari was also a student of Emanuele Brugnoli, great professor of engraving and drawing, who in 1912 reopened in Venice within the Academy, the School of Engraving, which had been closed in 1875. And under the guidance of this talented engraver Baldessari learned the so-called ‘fundamentals’ of painting too, if we want… Yes, because, without prejudice to contemporary artists (at least from the Informal onwards), drawing has always been the design, indeed fundamental, skeleton of every pictorial composition, and, obviously, also of the engraved works.
Now, if you look carefully at Baldessari’s futurist drawings, especially the more gaunt ones, or, we would say better, more ’empty’ of signs and light-dark ones, you will notice how the artist reduced everything to an extreme synthesis. In other words, one could say that any figuration is reduced to the bone, only to the contour lines, which, however, become real dynamic force-lines. In some cases it is possible to recognize preparatory drawings for works seen in the previous sections, and this will immediately make us understand how it is easy for Baldessari to add the volume and the colors on that warping of force lines, which has already perfectly delineated the composition, by the technique learned by Ciardi instead.
As for the engravings, the rendering, despite the presence, here also, of the lines of force, is instead much more static due to the need for absolute precision of the sign. Furthermore, apart from the dots, the engravings, i.e. the etchings and aquatints, are always characterized by strong contrasts of light and shadow, and by light and dark, precisely because of the need to give volume and depth to the image, as if it were just a small painting. So in this section there is an overview, indeed, a sampling, of the various execution methods that Baldessari used to make his drawings and engravings, and it should clarify very well what the artist’s technical and creative potential was.