Giueppe Capogrossi

About Artist: Giueppe Capogrossi was born in 1900 in Rome where he died in 1972. Giuseppe Capogrossi graduated in law in 1922 but almost immediately decided that he would become a painter. He attended the studio of Felice Carena, and then met and became a close friend of the painter Emanuele Cavalli with whom he was to exhibit in 1927. Like other artists of the time he was attracted to primitivism but had an intellectual, detached approach to it. In 1927, together with the painter Fausto Pirandello, he went to Paris where he was particularly attracted by the work of Picasso and Derain. In 1930 he took part in the 27th Venice Biennale and, from 1932 onwards, he regularly participated in shows of the artists’ union, the Venice Biennale, and the Milan Triennial. Together with Corrado Cagli, Emanuele Cavalli, and Eloisa Michelucci, he exhibited in the Galleria Roma in 1932; the following year his work was to be seen in the Galleria il Milione, Milan, and in the Galerie Jacques Bojean, Paris, once again with Cagli, Cavalli, and Michelucci: the critic Waldemar George dubbed them the Roman School. In 1933, together with Melli and Cavalli, he signed the “Manifesto del Primordialismo Plastico”. In 1935 he took part in the group show “Exhibition of Contemporary Italian Painting” in San Francisco. But the turning point in his career came in 1949 when he finally abandoned figurative painting and turned to abstraction. Since 1947 he had often gone to Austria where he would draw heaps of wood which suggested geometrical forms. He continued to develop these ideas and, in a very short time, he arrived at what was to become his immediately recognizable style: irregular fork-shaped marks that which could be endlessly combined in new variations. These shapes were to remain basic to his vocabulary for the rest of his life. The paintings, simply known as “Superficie”, Surfaces, were immediately attractive and yet open to various readings: despite their visual impact, time was needed to decipher them. They were shown for the first time in 1950 in the Galleria del Secolo, Rome. Much later, in 1964, he was to say that his were not really abstract paintings but a further development of figuration in which the natural forms were not imitated but assimilated. His archetypal forms were ideal for being translated into prints, and it was not by chance that he was often invited to show in graphics biennales. In 1952 he became a member of the Spaziale group in Milan and exhibited in various shows together with them. In 1955 he was invited to participate in Documenta I in Kassel and the 3rd Sao Paolo Biennale. In 1957 he was awarded the Premio Bari prize. In 1959 he took part in the graphics biennale in Venice, in Documenta II, and in the 5th Sao Paolo biennale. In 1960 he was invited to the 2nd Tokyo biennale. In 1962 the 31st Venice Biennale gave him a room to himself and awarded him, together with Morlotti, the Biennale prize. He exhibited in the group show “Painting and Sculpture of decade 1954-1964″ in the Tate Gallery, London, in 1964. In 1967 he took part in the 7th Ljubljana international graphics biennale. In 1969 a show of his work was held in the Rome national gallery. In 1970 he was invited to take part in the 2nd Florence international graphics biennale and, in 1971, he took part in the 11th Sao Paolo biennale where he was awarded the “Twenty Years of the Biennale” prize. His works were shown at the 11th Ljubljana international graphics biennale where he was awarded the Prix d’honneur.

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