Franco Angeli


Angeli was born in Rome in 1935. He comes from a family of a solid, socialist tradition. Self-taught, it was through the sculptor Edgardo Mannucci by which he was faced with the work of Burri. His works will therefore influence Angeli with his informal poetics. Angeli’s first works (1955-1957) included monochrome and material canvases in dark tones covered with torn nylon socks, which symbolizes poverty and pain. Because he was politically active (he joined the Communist Party), he met Tano Festa and Mario Schifano in 1955, with whom he established a deep relationship of friendship and cultural exchange. Together with Francesco Lo Savio, Pino Pascali, Jannis Kounellis, and Fabio Mauri they will give life to School of Piazza del Popolo, which has La Tartaruga by Plinio de Martis in its galleries. Angeli had his first solo show at the La Salita gallery in 1960. He then participated with Lo Savio, Festa, and Schifano from 1961 to 1962 in the Nuove perspectives exhibition of Italian painting at Palazzo Re Enzo in Bologna. In the 1960s, the growing attention to mass imagery shifted the artist’s interest unto stereotyped images and symbols. He sythesized on new images from urban furniture (Testa di Lupa Capitolina, 1964). In 1964 the exhibition Frammenti capitolini dates back to the gallery L'Arco di Alibert. The evident influence of American pop art is overcome by using ancestral symbols and ideological emblems (the scythe and the hammer, as well as the swastika) that act directly on the unconscious of the observer. He also participated in the Venice Biennale presented by Maurizio Calvesi and, the following year, at the IX Roman Quadrennial. The long series of Half Dollar (1966-1967) testifies an interest from strategies of power by placing the focus on the half dollar symbol of American Capitalism. It participates in 1967 at the São Paulo Biennial of Brazil. At the end of the 1960s Angeli was involved in the Vietnam war. Later in the 1980s his artistic career approached figuration where he utilized stylized shapes and portrayed symbols of his childhood, obelisks, deserted city squares, and capitals. He participated in the Venice Biennale again in 1978 where he presented a short film in the urban iconosphere. It was curated by Achille Bonito Oliva. In 1982 he took part in the important 30 year retrospective of Italian art of 1950-80, organized in Villa Manzoni, Lecco. With the series of marionettes, begun in 1984, Angeli realizes a sort of ironic self-portrait of himself. In 1985 he took part in the eleventh Rome Quadrennial, while a few years later, in 1988, he was given a retrospective at the Casa del Machiavelli (1958-72) near Florence. Angeli passed away from AIDS in 1988.