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Biography

Biography

Afro Libio Basaldella Afro Libio Basaldella was born in Udine in 1912.

In 1928, at just sixteen years of age, he showed his work along with that of his brothers Dino and Mirko, in the first and only Exhibition of the Friulian Avant-Garde. 
In 1930, thanks to a scholarship from the Marangoni Arts Foundation in Udine, Afro had the opportunity to go to Rome with his brother Dino and acquaint himself with the capitals art world.

In 1931 he began partecipating in different exhibitions of the Arts Union and in 1933 at the Galleria del Milione in Milan, along with Friulian artists Bosisio, Pittino e Taiuti. Afro subsequentlymoved to Rome.

In 1935 he partecipated in the Rome Quadriennale, and in 1936 at the Venice Biennale, where he exhibited again in 1940 and 1942. 

After partecipating in the activities of the School of Rome, creating several mural paintings and engaging in the temporary resurgence of Neo-Cubism, Afro travelled to New York in 1950 and began a twenty-year collaboration with the Catherine Viviano Gallery.

The different cultural climate and the diversity of the American art scene of the period made a strong impression on the artist, who reinterpreted them in his own, highly personal fashion.

In 1955 he partecipated in the exhibition, curated by Andrew Ritchie, The New Decade: 22 European Painters and Sculptors, which travelled throughout the U.S.A, and in first Documenta at Kassel. By this time, Afro had achieved an international reputation and in 1956 won the prize for best Italian artist in the Venice Biennale.

In 1957 he was invited as “artist-in-residence” to teach at the Mills College in Oakland (California), where he passed eight months teaching and working on the mural for the UNESCO headquarters in Paris. In fact in 1958, he joined Appel, Arp, Calder, Matta, Miro, Moore, Picasso and Tamayo in decorating the new UNESCO headquarters in Paris, creating a mural entitled, The Garden of Hope. Catherine Viviano showed in her gallery the preparatory sketches for the mural.

During these years many American Museums showed interest in Afro’s painting; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum bought Night Flight, painted by Afro in 1957.

1959-60 saw a continuation of his work at an international level: he was invited to Documenta II in Kassel and won the first prize at the Carnegie Triennial in Pittsburgh and the Italian prize at the Solomon R.Guggenheim Museum in New York.

In 1960 he partecipated in the Venice BiennaIe and Patrick J. Kelleher wrote for him in the catalogue.

In 1961, Guggenheim curator James Johnson Sweeney published a great monograph on his work. In this years he had one-artist exhibition at M.I.T. in 1960; at the Galerie de France in Paris; and the Galleria Blu in Milan in 1961; in 1964 and 1965 at the Galerie im Erker in St. Gallen, the Galerie Raber in Lucerne, and the Günter Franke Gallery in Munich.

In 1969-1970 a survey exhibition travelled to the Kunsthalle in Darmstadt, the Nationalgalerie in Berlin, and the Palazzo dei Diamanti in Ferrara.

After the death of his brother Mirko in 1969, Afro suffered from a series of successive health problems. The 1970 saw an increase in his graphic output and a decline in his activities in paintings and exhibiting.

Afro died in Zurich in 1976.

The following year, a monograph by Cesare Brandi was published.

In 1978 the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna in Rome paid him homage in the form of a major retrospective, in 1992 a complete exhibition was held in Milan at Palazzo Reale.

In November 1997 the Catalogue Raisonné of Afro has been presented at the American Academy in Rome and in 1998 at The Guggenheim Foundation in Venice.