Udine 1912 -
Afro Basaldella, Italian painter, was born in Udine in 1912. The short form "Afro", with which he also signs his pictures, is his artist name. He studies in Venice and Florence. He receives a scholarship of the Fondazione Marangoni in 1929 and goes to Rome where he meets the artists Scipione, Mario Mafai and Corrado Cagli.
Afro moves to Milan in 1932. He shows works in the Galleria del Milione in 1933. He participates in the Quadriennale in Rome as well as in the Biennale in Venice several times. He is commissioned to paint the Udine opera house in 1936. The artist works on large murals for the World Exhibition along with Corrado Cagli in Paris in 1937. Afro also executes frescoes for the "Hôtel des Roses" on the island of Rhodes. His first one-man show takes place in Rome in the Galleria del Cometa the same year.
He accepts a lectureship for mosaic painting at the Venice Academy in 1941. In 1950 Basaldella travels to the USA for the first time, where he shows works in the gallery of Catherine Viviano. Afro aligns with Moreni, Corpora, Morlotti, Birolli, Santomaso, Turcato and Vedova, previous members of the "Fronte nuovo delle Arti", together they form the "Gruppo degli Otto" (Group of Eight). The artists more and more turn to abstract painting.
Afro Basaldella teaches at Mills College in Oakland, California in 1957-58. In 1958 he completes a mural for the UNESCO building in Paris. Ten years later he is appointed professor at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence, he has to leave the post in 1971 for health reasons.
As of the early 1970s, he is intensively working on his graphic oeuvre. The style of his early works in the 1930s is close to the Venetian tradition, however, the artists discovers Cubism as of 1937. His works from the 1940s on show influences of the Roman School and also expressionist and post-cubist elements. In 1946-47 he goes through an artistic crisis and makes hardly any paintings. Finally, the artist attains an abstraction that is based on analytic and synthetic Cubism. He gets to his own mature style with a clear emphasis on light and color not before meeting the abstract Expressionist Arshile Gorky in New York. The late oeuvre is characterized by an increasing harmonization on the one hand, and on the other, by a consolidated use of forms and a subtle refinement of the media.
Afro dies in Zurich in 1976, he counts among the most important abstract Italian painters.