Franco Angeli

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Franco (Giuseppe) Angeli Biography

Born in Rome May 14, 1935 – Died in Rome November 12, 1988

Franco Angeli was born in Rome in the district of San Lorenzo, from a socialist tradition family, the third of three brothers.  Because of the war, did not complete their primary education.

 After working several jobs: porter, barber apprentice, worker in a body shop, in 1955 he started his artistic career in the study of Edgardo Mannucci until 1957.  At that time he is introduced to the “informal art” of Alberto Burri, which appreciates the ability to the use of materials and forms.  He contributes to the Italian Communist Party, known in the section Campus Martius with Tano Festa and  subsequently Mario Schifano with whom he share the experiences and tragedies of war.

In 1958 he exhibited his first works in the group show at the Gallery “La Salita” in Rome.  He spent time those years at the Rosati bar where his builds meaningful relationships with Renato Guttuso, Pino Pascali, Jannis Kounellis and Fabio Mauri.  They were young, beautiful, and talented on the painted canvases on equal terms with the New York Pop Art, where Andy Warhol took his first steps to conquer the world…but the art world knows them as Street Kids.

In 1958 he also participates at the international exhibits of graphic at Salzburg and Vienna and displays his paintings at the Summer Salon in Rome.

1959 is the date that marks the expositional debut of Angeli at the L’Appunto Gallery on Gregoriana Street in Rome in an exhibit together with De Bernardi, Festa and Uncini, Lo Savio and Schifano.

The following year the same exhibit (without De Bernardi) is moved to the Il Cancello Gallery in Bologna and the La Salita Gallery in Rome.  The La Salita  Gallery is directed by Tommaso Liverani and Angeli becomes part of the Giovane Sculola di Roma (Rome’s Young School).  This new generation of Roman artists looks for a new way out of the informal with structures organized in simple geometric sharps.  They tend towards monochromatic solutions, keeping at reference points in Rome the L’Attico Gallery and principally the La Salita Gallery, they are not bound either by a programmatic declaration or by a common method to establish a relationship with objects.

The figurative language of the Romans is mirrored in the cultural climate of unease and of critique aimed towards the reality that characterizes the period.  The artist draws many suggestions from the experiences that are roused not just from the paintings of Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns and Alberto Burri, but also from those which come directly from the “Happenings”.  Franco Angeli and Mimmo Rotella exhibit with sixteen other artists in the show “Small Sculptures and Graphic Pieces” in the La Medusa Gallery in Rome.


First personal show at the La Salita Gallery in Rome with a catalogue presented by Cesare Vivaldi.  The influence of the informal tradition is still alive, found in the vast monochromatic canvasses, with dark ones  - green, gray and black - upon which Angeli intervenes with veils, torn nylon stockings as a symbol of pain and poverty.  In these works an autobiographical element is present.  “Everything had to appear lacerated, cheerless.  I would ask myself every day; what can I do?  And the answer was the representation of that misery in which I was born and lived in up until those years.”


The exhibit at the L’Odyssia Gallery in Rome titled Continuita (Continuity) with workds by Consagra, Dorazio, Perilli, Turcato (with a preface by G.C.Argan), aims at re-establishing a primacy and create a solid center of reference for the new generation.

He exhibits at the La Salita Gallery in Rome.  He participates in the XII Lissone Awards and the XII Verruchiio Internatioanl Convention in Rimini.  He participates in the exhibition Que Viva Fidel Castro at the Ferro Gallery of “Cavallo of Rome” and the Il Cancello Gallery in Bologna.


The School of the Piazza del Popolo is outlined, its name taken from the road in which the La Tartaruga Gallery is located, formed by artists who draw inspiration in part from Pop Art.

Angeli paints the piece titled Napoleon.  He moves with the New Dada group and from the informal influences made yet more evident due to the contrast with a strong signal symbol presence like swastikas, crosses, the wolf of Rome, eagles, stars, dollars, the half moon and the star of free Algeria. These symbols assume a similar sense of unreality and of suspended time even when they are enriched with emblems such as the capital wolf or the fifty-cent eagle. Angeli is invited to the show “New Perspective of Italian Painting” at the King Enzo Palace in Bologna.  The show, the first which chooses as an opening, the-me, the young 1960’s.  They hint at a forthcoming detachment of a new generation, a generation grown in provisional wealth, or in provisional misery, of the economic miracle.  Their need to draw, to protect, to establish relationships and proportions is not separable from the sensation of emptiness in which they feel submerged, and in this emptiness they feel immersed, and in the emptiness they attempt to function, to trace some reference points.

He participates in the XIII Lissone Awards and the collectible exhibits at the La Tartaruga Gallery in Rome, the Levi Gallery in Milan and to the show organized for Danilo Dolci.


He exhibits with“13 Painters in Rome” an group exhibit at the La Tartaruga Gallery.  He participates in the “IV Exposition of Figurative Art” of Rome and Lazio.  Angeli exhibits with the scythe and hammer symbols arranged around a five-point star.
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