Artist biography

Afro 1912-1976

Italian painter and stage designer, born in Udine. Full name Afro Balsadella, but is usually known as Afro; brother of the sculptor Mirko Balsadella (Mirko). Father a leading decorator. Studied at secondary schools specialising in art subjects in Florence and Venice, and had his first one-man exhibition at the Galleria del Milione, Milan, in 1932. Began by painting still lifes, landscapes, portraits and murals. Moved in 1938 to Rome. War service and in the Resistance 1940-4. Developed a near-abstract style in 1947-8 under the influence of Klee and late Cubism. Held regular exhibitions at the Catherine Viviano Gallery, New York, from 1950-68 and made frequent visits to the USA, developing a looser, more improvisatory abstract style partly under the influence of Gorky, Kline and de Kooning. Joined the group Otto with Birolli, Corpora, Moreni, Morlotti, Santomaso, Turcato and Vedova in 1952. Painted a mural for the UNESCO headquarters in Paris 1958. Awarded the City of Venice painting prize at the 1956 Venice Biennale and Second Prize at the 1959 Pittsburgh International; also designed sets and costumes for the ballet and the opera. His late works, from c.1970, had more precise shapes. Died in Zurich.

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, p.2