Biography

Futurist Training of Roberto Marcello Baldessari.

Moments of Reflection.

Roberto Marcello Baldessari was born on March 23, 1894, in Innsbruck, Austria,  where his family had lived for a few years. Shortly thereafter, occurred some riots against the Italian-speaking minority, so that the Baldessari family left Innsbruck and went back to Rovereto (then district of the Austro-Hungarian Empire). There the father purchased the Caffè Accademia, which soon became a center of Italianism and irredentism. During the adolescence years in Rovereto, after the primary school, Baldessari strove to draw the profiles of the patrons in his father’s coffee but without yielding to his innate sense of comedy and caricature. The freehand drawing professor of the Royal Elizabettina School, Luigi Comel (who attended the club), saw these drawings and, after having given the boy private teaching in drawing and painting for some time, convinced his father to send Roberto to Venice, where in 1908,  the young man enrolled in the Academy of Fine Arts

Roberto Marcello Baldessari was born on March 23, 1894, in Innsbruck, Austria,  where his family had lived for a few years. Shortly thereafter, occurred some riots against the Italian-speaking minority, so that the Baldessari family left Innsbruck and went back to Rovereto (then district of the Austro-Hungarian Empire). There the father purchased the Caffè Accademia, which soon became a center of Italianism and irredentism. During the adolescence years in Rovereto, after the primary school, Baldessari strove to draw the profiles of the patrons in his father’s coffee but without yielding to his innate sense of comedy and caricature. The freehand drawing professor of the Royal Elizabettina School, Luigi Comel (who attended the club), saw these drawings and, after having given the boy private teaching in drawing and painting for some time, convinced his father to send Roberto to Venice, where in 1908,  the young man enrolled in the Academy of Fine Arts

It must be said that from the Royal Elisabettina School, came out, right at the beginning of the 1900s a series of talents who, once Trentino in 1919 became Italy, profoundly marked the culture of the 20th century, not only at local level but also in a national and international context. These are characters like, for instance, Tullio Garbari, Lionello Fiumi, Umberto Maganzini, Carlo Cainelli, Riccardo Maroni, Luciano Baldessari, Giovanni Tonini, Fausto Melotti, Gianni Caproni and of course Fortunato Depero. The professor Comel was therefore a qualified person to suggest such an advice.

In Venice, Baldessari arrived soaked in that dirty, border, German, somewhat expressionist painting. At the Academy he followed the academic teachings of Guglielmo Ciardi who represented tradition, continuity with the past. From Ciardi, Baldessari learned how to enhance light in colors, and he also learned the ancient technique of glazing. In fact, when he became a Futurist he was the only one to paint futurist works with  glazes. At the same time he also followed the engraving courses with Emanuele Brugnoli who introduced him to the secrets of dry peaks and etchings, so much so that, years later, after abandoning Futurism, he became one of the most recognized engravers in Europe.

It must be said that from the Royal Elisabettina School, came out, right at the beginning of the 1900s a series of talents who, once Trentino in 1919 became Italy, profoundly marked the culture of the 20th century, not only at local level but also in a national and international context. These are characters like, for instance, Tullio Garbari, Lionello Fiumi, Umberto Maganzini, Carlo Cainelli, Riccardo Maroni, Luciano Baldessari, Giovanni Tonini, Fausto Melotti, Gianni Caproni and of course Fortunato Depero. The professor Comel was therefore a qualified person to suggest such an advice.

In Venice, Baldessari arrived soaked in that dirty, border, German, somewhat expressionist painting. At the Academy he followed the academic teachings of Guglielmo Ciardi who represented tradition, continuity with the past. From Ciardi, Baldessari learned how to enhance light in colors, and he also learned the ancient technique of glazing. In fact, when he became a Futurist he was the only one to paint futurist works with  glazes. At the same time he also followed the engraving courses with Emanuele Brugnoli who introduced him to the secrets of dry peaks and etchings, so much so that, years later, after abandoning Futurism, he became one of the most recognized engravers in Europe.

His fellow countryman Attilio Lasta, who had been in the lagoon for some time, introduced him to the circle of Ca’ Pesaro, where was moving the first protest of the time against the Venice Biennale, considered too conservative. In this way he found himself confronting two possible artistic ways: on one side the academic teachings and on the other, the unrest of the young experimenters of Ca’ Pesaro, first of all Gino Rossi, who, like a fauve, used colors as a blunt weapon. In that environment Baldessari met and became familiar with many young artists of the time, such as Arturo Martini and Ugo Valeri. And yet the research of the lagoon painters if on one side taught him to dare, to experiment without fear, on the other did not attract him so much. Of course, their attendance gradually influenced his palette, which became brighter and brighter, while the sign in turn went towards a progressive disintegration that we could define as post-divisionist, but that philosophy of isolation, of the almost spiritual ‘retirement’ on the islands of the lagoon, to work there in silence, it was not for him, who was of a wandering nature.

It was, in fact, on the eve of a turning point. Far beyond Venice some other ferments were moving. Baldessari had certainly got wind of the futurist poetics that had been inflaming the younger generations for some years. Precisely in Venice there had been the launch of futurist posters from the clock tower, on July 8, 1910, with the proclamation ‘Against Venezia Passatista ‘, an event he was certainly aware of, and perhaps he had probably attended, and then in his Rovereto, already since 1913, had been a futurist circle animated by Depero. Furthermore in Venice, in the early ten years also Boccioni had exhibited some works, which if not already futurist, were certainly divisionist … And precisely divisionist, halfway between the style of Boccioni and that of Carrà, were the first experiments of a Baldessari who was moving away from the ‘lesson of the bright color’ received by Ciardi. For instance a woman’s face painted then in Venice shows a lot about Boccioni’s influence. In addition, since 1914, the Futurists also committed themselves on the political side, launching an insistent “interventionist” campaign, for the entry of Italy into the war against Austria and the liberation of Trento and Trieste. In short, art was becoming not only a figurative fact but also a properly existential, total event. And it is precisely in this period, and in this social context that, also following the reunification with the family, arrived in Venice to escape the rush of war events in Trentino, in the early months of 1915 took place the Baldessaris’ transfer to Florence.

His fellow countryman Attilio Lasta, who had been in the lagoon for some time, introduced him to the circle of Ca’ Pesaro, where was moving the first protest of the time against the Venice Biennale, considered too conservative. In this way he found himself confronting two possible artistic ways: on one side the academic teachings and on the other, the unrest of the young experimenters of Ca’ Pesaro, first of all Gino Rossi, who, like a fauve, used colors as a blunt weapon. In that environment Baldessari met and became familiar with many young artists of the time, such as Arturo Martini and Ugo Valeri. And yet the research of the lagoon painters if on one side taught him to dare, to experiment without fear, on the other did not attract him so much. Of course, their attendance gradually influenced his palette, which became brighter and brighter, while the sign in turn went towards a progressive disintegration that we could define as post-divisionist, but that philosophy of isolation, of the almost spiritual ‘retirement’ on the islands of the lagoon, to work there in silence, it was not for him, who was of a wandering nature.

Si era, infatti, alla vigilia di una svolta. Ben oltre Venezia si muovevano anche altri fermenti. Baldessari sicuramente aveva avuto sentore della poetica futurista che già da qualche anno stava infiammando le giovani generazioni. Proprio a Venezia vi era stato il lancio di manifesti futuristi dalla torre dell’orologio, l’8 luglio 1910, con il proclama Contro Venezia Passatista, fatto di cui certo era a conoscenza, se forse non vi avesse anche assistito, e poi nella sua stessa Rovereto già dal 1913 vi era un circolo futurista animato da Depero, A Venezia, poi, nei primi anni Dieci espose anche Boccioni, opere se non già futuriste, sicuramente divisioniste… ed appunto divisioniste, a metà tra lo stile di Boccioni e quello di Carrà, sono i primi esperimenti di un Baldessari che si sta allontanamento dalla ‘lezione del colore luminoso’ ricevuta dal Ciardi. Un volto di donna dipinto ancora a Venezia sa molto di Boccioni. Inoltre, con il 1914, i futuristi s’impegnarono anche sul versante politico, avviando un’insistente campagna ‘interventista’, per l’ingresso dell’Italia in guerra contro l’Austria e la liberazione di Trento e Trieste. L’arte stava insomma divenendo un fatto non solo figurativo ma propriamente esistenziale, totale. Ed è proprio in questo periodo, ed in questo contesto sociale che, anche in seguito al ricongiungimento con la famiglia, giunta a Venezia per sfuggire al precipitare degli eventi bellici in Trentino, nei primi mesi del 1915 avviene il trasferimento a Firenze.

«I attended the Caffè Giubbe Rosse already in 1915 – Baldessari recounts in an autobiographical text – I had the first contacts with the Futurists and the gift of many dear friends: Marinetti, Settimelli, Chiti, Lega, Lega, Conti, Campana, Nannetti, Venna and Rosai» .

Baldessari, therefore, embraced the cause of the so-called ‘Florentine futurism’ which followed the Boccionian analytical method, in contrast to the analogical research carried out in the Roman area by Balla and Depero. Its main architects were, on one side, Ardengo Soffici who mediated between cubism and futurism, and, on the other, Ottone Rosai who instead pursued a “popular” reading of the futurist program, with vernacular accents.

So by looking at Boccioni, Carrà and Russolo, the artist began his first futurist experiments.

And moving from these coordinates Baldessari’s style will later develop.

«I attended the Caffè Giubbe Rosse already in 1915 – Baldessari recounts in an autobiographical text – I had the first contacts with the Futurists and the gift of many dear friends: Marinetti, Settimelli, Chiti, Lega, Lega, Conti, Campana, Nannetti, Venna and Rosai» .

Baldessari, therefore, embraced the cause of the so-called ‘Florentine futurism’ which followed the Boccionian analytical method, in contrast to the analogical research carried out in the Roman area by Balla and Depero. Its main architects were, on one side, Ardengo Soffici who mediated between cubism and futurism, and, on the other, Ottone Rosai who instead pursued a “popular” reading of the futurist program, with vernacular accents.

So by looking at Boccioni, Carrà and Russolo, the artist began his first futurist experiments.

And moving from these coordinates Baldessari’s style will later develop.

Next Chapter

Definition of Baldessari’s Style