This gallery, with works that span over a period of almost 20 years (1916-1935), aims to show (and demonstrate) the operational breadth Baldessari revealed in his works going well beyond the futurist orthodoxy.
As seen in the chapters concerning his life, every time Baldessari came into contact with artists or artistic movements that particularly impressed him … well he always wanted to ‘enter’ into the mechanisms of these styles (or into the work of these artists), first of all to understand the differences, the proximity or the distances, from Futurism, and secondly to make as his own some techniques or some stylistic elements of particular interest for him.
When in the spring of 1917 Picasso was in Italy, and involved Depero to make some costumes for Parade, Baldessari (as Depero’s fellow citizen) came to know it, and wanted to deepen Picasso’s work. So he created a group of works that are, if not Cubist, at least futur-cubist, some real reinterpretations of works by the Spanish artist. And he painted them not to ‘copy’, which was a nonsense considering the style was so far from his own that he certainly couldn’t pretend to pass them off for works of his own creation, but with the same modesty of the pupil who studies the teacher, as he had done at his beginnings with Boccioni, Carrà and others (see later Baldessari and the Masters). To learn something new.
The same thing happened in 1922-23, when he landed in Hannover by Kurt Schwitters, and remained there months to help him build the Merzbau. How not to become, at that moment, at that precise moment, also a little Dadaist? Then here are his futur-Dadaist collages, his irreverent sculptures, and the dancer in wire and sheet steel that makes us understand he had seen Oskar Schlemmer.
And then gradually the Composizione Rosso-Venezia (Composition Red-Venice) of 1924, born, together with other works now dispersed, following the attendance of Vordemberge-Gildewaart, of the group of Abstractionists from Hannover. With this painting Baldessari reached the limits of his experiments, and the next step was the return to the figurative landscape.
Finally, coinciding with his return to Futurism, in 1934, he became an aeropainter (see chapter 6 of La Vita) both of flight and also cosmic, as can be seen here, and being his studio not far from the Gallery Il Milione, looked at the concrete abstract, and then also tried the path of advertising, though with little luck.
All of this, at first glance, may give the idea that Baldessari does not have a path of his own, his style, his figure … It’s not absolutely true. Here we speak of two to three dozen works in a whole of hundreds of orthodox futurist ones, and indeed well recognizable for the ‘Baldessari style’. So, as abovesaid, we want to give an account here of Baldessari’s transversal interest towards the other avant-gardes, that is, of his drinking also to ‘other sources’, a practice that has also opened his eyes, leading him to face with certain limits of Futurism, at least as far as his vision of Art was concerned.