Franco Angeli





Rome, 1935 - 1988
Franco Angeli was born in San Lorenzo district, in a solid socialist tradition family. Self-taught, through the sculptor Edgardo Mannucci he knows the work of Burri who will influence, with informal poetics, his first works (1955-1957): monochrome and material canvases in dark tones covered with torn and torn nylon stockings, a symbol of poverty and pain. Very active politically (he joins the Communist Party), in 1955 he met Tano Festa and Mario Schifano,
with whom he establishes 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 the School of Piazza del Popolo, which has in the galleries La Tartaruga by Plinio de Martis and La Salita its points of reference. In 1960 the first solo show at the La Salita gallery; in 1961-1962 he participated with Lo Savio, Festa and Schifano in the exhibition New perspectives of Italian painting, at Palazzo Re Enzo in Bologna. In the sixties, the growing attention to mass imagery shifted the artist's interest to stereotyped images and symbols, taken from street furniture, through which he synthesized a new image of reality (Testa di Lupa Capitolina, 1964). The Capitoline Fragments exhibition at the L’Arco di Alibert gallery dates back to 1964. The evident influence of American pop art is overcome through the use of ancestral symbols and ideological emblems (the hammer and sickle, the swastika) that act directly on the observer's unconscious. He also participates in the Venice Biennale presented by Maurizio Calvesi and, the following year, in the IX Quadrennial in Rome. The long series of Half Dollars (1966-1967) testifies to the interest in the strategies of power, focusing on the half dollar symbol of American capitalism; he participates in the Biennial of Sao Paulo in Brazil in 1967. At the end of the sixties Angeli is engaged on the theme of the Vietnam war, while in the eighties his artistic path approaches the figuration: with stylized forms he portrays symbols of his childhood and obelisks, deserted squares and capitals. In 1978 he again participated in the Venice Biennale in the Urban Iconosphere section curated by Achille Bonito Oliva, also presenting a short film. In 1982 he participated in the important retrospective 30 years of Italian art 1950-80, organized at Villa Manzoni, Lecco. With the puppet series, which began in 1984, Angeli creates a sort of ironic self-portrait of himself. In 1985 he took part in the 11th Roman Quadrennial, while a few years later, in 1988, a retrospective was dedicated to him at the Casa del Machiavelli (1958-72) near Florence. Sick of AIDS, he died in Rome in 1988.