1924 - 2003
Enrico Baj was born October 31, 1924 in Milan, Italy. Many of his works show an obsession with nuclear war. He created prints, sculptures but especially collage. He was close to the surrealist and dada movements, and was later associated with CoBrA. As an author, he has been described as a leading promoter of the avant-garde. He worked with Umberto Eco among other collaborators. He had an avid interest in the pseudo-philosophy 'pataphysics. He was born into a wealthy family, but left Italy in 1944 having upset the authorities and to avoid conscription. He studied at the Milan University law faculty and the Brera Academy of Art. In 1951, he founded the arte nucleare movement with Sergio Dangelo, which unlike abstract art was overtly political. Baj himself was aligned with the anarchist movement. His most well-known pieces are probably the series of "Generals": absurd characters made from found objects such as belts or medals. He made numerous works using motifs from other artists, from Leonardo da Vinci to Picasso. Sometimes he recreated entire works of other painters. In 1972 a public display of a major work, "Funeral of The Anarchist Pinelli" (a reference to Carlo Carrà's famous painting The Funeral of the Anarchist Galli of 1911) was banned after the murder of the police officer believed to be responsible for Giuseppe Pinelli's death in custody. However, his work continued to be political. In 1989, he designed thirty marionettes for Le bleu-blanc-rouge et le noir, an opera by Italian composer Lorenzo Ferrero to a libretto by Anthony Burgess, written for the bicentenary of the French Revolution. In his last years, he created a series of paintings in protest at the election of Silvio Berlusconi. He died in Vergiate, Italy on June 15, 2003.