BIography

Return to the figurative and then Futurism again

As mentioned in the previous chapter, the definitive abandonment of avant-garde ambitions, and the return to the figurative sphere, was a choice forced by pressing vital needs.

But the cut was not clear. For a few years, between 1922 and 1924, Baldessari worked on several fronts (Novecento, Dada … again Futurism … and already figurative) placing at the center of his work not the ‘manner’ but his idea of ​​’style ‘, which in that period was precisely continuously influenced by the artistic trends he encountered.

As mentioned in the previous chapter, the definitive abandonment of avant-garde ambitions, and the return to the figurative sphere, was a choice forced by pressing vital needs.

But the cut was not clear. For a few years, between 1922 and 1924, Baldessari worked on several fronts (Novecento, Dada … again Futurism … and already figurative) placing at the center of his work not the ‘manner’ but his idea of ​​’style ‘, which in that period was precisely continuously influenced by the artistic trends he encountered.

His painting is a figurative that ranges from the suburbs of the Swiss and German cities, to the Spanish peasants, to the Roman foreshortenings, and to the landscapes from Trentino on the Lake of Garda or even from Ticino with views of the Lake of Lugano. However, the figurative season  is rather complex, not yet fully analyzed, precisely because it intertwines and sometimes coexists with the experimental phase, also testifying of the great travail of an artist torn between the art market demands and the desire for a continuous recherche. And it is a season that somehow began with a sort of ‘baptism’ … In fact, they often took him for another Baldessari from Rovereto,  Luciano Baldessari who later became one of the most important Italian architects. But, in the early twenties, Luciano Baldessari was a valid watercolorist, he too with a futurist past. And therefore, not to be mistaken, Roberto Marcello Baldessari began to sign his works with Iras, taking the last four letters of the surname backwards.

His first figurative paintings began to appear already around 1923-24, during a trip to Zurich, by Hess, and then immediately with the Spanish stay, and they are works alternately marked by an expressionist attitude or by a bright chromaticism, with a dynamic and synthetic sign with smooth and modulated volumes. But already in 1926-27, he lived for a period in Rome, where he made dozens and dozen of drawings from life in the most typical neighborhoods of the city, fixing the most vernacular situations: taverns, street vendors, and so on. The result was a booklet entitled Disegni Romani (Roman Drawings), published in 1927.

Later, towards the end of the 1920s and the beginning of the 1930s, the paintings of German subjects show a sort of coming and going between twentieth-century drives, on the one hand, and an intolerance to neo-classical styles on the other. But this is the Baldessari of the time constantly oscillating between the suggestions that derive from his multiple artistic experiences. Among other things, in Berlin in the early thirties he  also worked for cinema, creating various wall posters.

His painting is a figurative that ranges from the suburbs of the Swiss and German cities, to the Spanish peasants, to the Roman foreshortenings, and to the landscapes from Trentino on the Lake of Garda or even from Ticino with views of the Lake of Lugano. However, the figurative season  is rather complex, not yet fully analyzed, precisely because it intertwines and sometimes coexists with the experimental phase, also testifying of the great travail of an artist torn between the art market demands and the desire for a continuous recherche. And it is a season that somehow began with a sort of ‘baptism’ … In fact, they often took him for another Baldessari from Rovereto,  Luciano Baldessari who later became one of the most important Italian architects. But, in the early twenties, Luciano Baldessari was a valid watercolorist, he too with a futurist past. And therefore, not to be mistaken, Roberto Marcello Baldessari began to sign his works with Iras, taking the last four letters of the surname backwards.

His first figurative paintings began to appear already around 1923-24, during a trip to Zurich, by Hess, and then immediately with the Spanish stay, and they are works alternately marked by an expressionist attitude or by a bright chromaticism, with a dynamic and synthetic sign with smooth and modulated volumes. But already in 1926-27, he lived for a period in Rome, where he made dozens and dozen of drawings from life in the most typical neighborhoods of the city, fixing the most vernacular situations: taverns, street vendors, and so on. The result was a booklet entitled Disegni Romani (Roman Drawings), published in 1927.

Later, towards the end of the 1920s and the beginning of the 1930s, the paintings of German subjects show a sort of coming and going between twentieth-century drives, on the one hand, and an intolerance to neo-classical styles on the other. But this is the Baldessari of the time constantly oscillating between the suggestions that derive from his multiple artistic experiences. Among other things, in Berlin in the early thirties he  also worked for cinema, creating various wall posters.

In 1933 he was recalled to the futurist commitment by Marinetti himself for the launch of Aeropainting in Germany. Together with his friend Ruggero Vasari, responsible for years in the futurist section of Berlin, he was in charge of organizing a travelling exhibition in Germany and Austria, which was held first in Berlin and then in Vienna. For this new entry into Futurism Baldessari had to recreate a style, because his typical Futurist style of the Ten years was now outdated. And so, if in his early painting days he had looked  above all at Boccioni and Carrà, now the pre-eminent figure of Futurism was Prampolini, and on that cosmic-organic style he tuned in with some test canvases. But he was probably not happy with the result and therefore developed his own aeropictorial style.

Then already around 1937 this new futur-propagandist fold became too tight to him, and therefore he returned to the more peaceful figurative sphere, with a painting that gradually assumed characteristics of a monochromatism broken by only a few tonal differences. It is a somewhat consoling, but wise, painting based on years of experience, that never lingers in frills and romance. Sometimes a heavy, hard painting, other times, at the border of pandering. We could call it a Stimmungmalerei, a painting of moods, as a German critic defined it, precisely because it adapted continuously to the artist’s soul.

Then in late 1939 he moved to Morcote, Switzerland, and began a new artistic season.

In 1933 he was recalled to the futurist commitment by Marinetti himself for the launch of Aeropainting in Germany. Together with his friend Ruggero Vasari, responsible for years in the futurist section of Berlin, he was in charge of organizing a travelling exhibition in Germany and Austria, which was held first in Berlin and then in Vienna. For this new entry into Futurism Baldessari had to recreate a style, because his typical Futurist style of the Ten years was now outdated. And so, if in his early painting days he had looked  above all at Boccioni and Carrà, now the pre-eminent figure of Futurism was Prampolini, and on that cosmic-organic style he tuned in with some test canvases. But he was probably not happy with the result and therefore developed his own aeropictorial style.

Then already around 1937 this new futur-propagandist fold became too tight to him, and therefore he returned to the more peaceful figurative sphere, with a painting that gradually assumed characteristics of a monochromatism broken by only a few tonal differences. It is a somewhat consoling, but wise, painting based on years of experience, that never lingers in frills and romance. Sometimes a heavy, hard painting, other times, at the border of pandering. We could call it a Stimmungmalerei, a painting of moods, as a German critic defined it, precisely because it adapted continuously to the artist’s soul.

Then in late 1939 he moved to Morcote, Switzerland, and began a new artistic season.

Capitolo Precedente

Post-war time: Futurism and Avant-garde

Next Chapter

One more war. The last years