* 1912 Udine
† 1976 Zürich
The Italian Afro Basaldella was born in Udine on March 4, 1912, the short form "Afro", with which he also signs his pictures, is his artist name. His brothers Dino and Mirko Basaldella were also painters. Afro Basaldella studies in Venice and Florence, completing his studies in Venice in 1931. He receives a scholarship for a working stay in Rome from the Fondazione Marangoni in 1929, where he meets the artists Scipione, Mario Mafai and Corrado Cagli.
In 1932, the artist lives for some time in Milan, where he also shows works in the Galleria del Milione in 1933. Over the following years, 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. His first one-man show takes place in Tome in the Galleria del Cometa the same year. Afro also executes frescoes for the "Hôtel des Roses" on the island of Rhodes. He accepts a lectureship for mosaic painting at the Venice Academy in 1941. He travels to New York for the first time in 1950, 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).
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. He intensively examines works of Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. In addition, his works from the 1940s shows influences of the Roman School and also expressionist and post-cubist elements. After an artistic crisis in 1946/47, a time during which hardly any paintings were made, Afro 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 encountering 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 counts among the most important abstract Italian painters. He dies in Zurich on July 24, 1976.