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Catalogue of the first retrospective of Afro Libio Basaldella, better known as Afro. The exhibition, at the Tornabuoni Art Gallery in Paris, shows works ranging from the 1930s to the 1970s. It includes a room completely dedicated to the preparatory sketches for his large fresco,The Garden of Hope, created in 1958 for the UNESCO headquarters in Paris. His link with American Abstract Expressionism was analysed in the catalogue by Barbara Drudi of the Accademia di Firenze, and thanks to the curatorship of Philip Rylands.
Afro Libio Basaldella (Udine, 1912 – Zurich, 1976) was perhaps the most renowned member of the Friuli Avant-garde Movement, which influenced his approach towards a more Expressionist sense of painting that had always been based on traditional Venetian Colourism. In the 1940s, Afro joined the Fronte Nuovo delle Arti, and following a visit to the United States, he joined the Gruppo degli Otto, with whom he exhibited at the Venice Biennale in 1952. Although in certain aspects his style seemed similar to American Action Painting, his harmonious tonal modulation and later research into abstract shapes and forms produced intellectually sophisticated results.
Philip Rylands is a graduate of King’s College Cambridge, and received his PhD at Cambridge in 1981 with a thesis on the Venetian Renaissance painter, Palma il Vecchio. In 2008, he was awarded a honorary degree by the University of Art and Design of Cluj, in Romania. In 2003, with Laura Mattioli, he edited the catalogue raisonné of the Gianni Mattioli Collection, by Flavio Fergonzi, and the Peggy Guggenheim and Frederick Kiesler collections with Susan Davidson. He was the Director of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice until 2017. He lectures regularly at various universities, writes academic articles and essays, curates exhibitions and contributes to exhibition catalogues.
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