Art Term

Arte nucleare

Arte nucleare was an artist group founded in Milan in 1951 whose aim was to make art in response to the nuclear age

Enrico Baj, ‘Fire! Fire!’ 1963–4
Enrico Baj
Fire! Fire! 1963–4
Tate
© Enrico Baj

The movimento d’arte nucleare was founded by the Italian artist Enrico Baj together with Sergio Dangelo and Gianni Bertini, in Milan in 1951. Gianni Dova was a later member. Their first manifesto was issued the following year and another in 1959. The name might be translated as ‘art for the nuclear age’, since the group specifically set out to make art in relation to this. Their manifestos warned of the dangers of the misapplication of nuclear technology. They declared opposition to geometric abstract art and proposed instead the use of automatic techniques. They were thus closely aligned with art informel.

In the early 1950s Baj was making paintings with suggestions of mushroom clouds and devastated landscapes. In his later painting and collage works he gave the name ‘heavy water’ to the enamel paint and distilled water emulsion he used. These works include a sardonic series of army officers of which Fire! Fire! is one. Several exhibitions were held but the movement petered out around 1960.

related terms and concepts

selected artists in the collection

selected artworks in the collection