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Roberto Marcello Baldessari, Iras (Innsbruck 1894 - Rome 1965)

Roberto Marcello Baldessari was known as Iras - a pseudonym he adopted in the 1920s by reversing the last four letters of his surname to distinguish himself from Luciano Baldessari who was also a Futurist and later an architect. He was born in 1894 in Innsbruck and moved to Rovereto with his family. In 1908 he attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Venice where he received his early training. He met Gino Rossi and Arturo Martini. There had aleady been a Futurist circle in Rovereto since 1913 led by Depero, but his contact with the Marinettiano movement came about in 1915 when he moved to Florence, as he himself described, “As early as 1915 I used to go to the Caffè Giubbe Rosse and had my first encounter with the Futurists and the gift of many wonderful friendships: Marinetti, Settimelli, Chiti, Lega, Conti, Campana, Nannetti, Venna and Rosai. He felt close to Soffici who was trying to combine Cubism and Futurism and to Rosai who, in contrast, was looking for a popular Futurist path with vernacular tones. However his model remained Boccioni’s plastic dynamism which he developed into a more abstract version thus beginning a brief season of “Futurist abstraction” from 1914 to 1916. At the same time he dedicated himself to re-interpreting Cézanne with subjects denoting a marked volumetric structure. 
In 1919, the simple geometric lines of his compositions were enriched by his use of light and shade as an element of construction. After the war, in 1919, he participated in the Futurist exhibition held in Milan. In the years to follow he travelled in Germany, then in France, Spain and the Netherlands, where he met some of the major exponents of the avantgarde movements. From 1934 to 1937 he supported Aeropittura (flight painting) finding in Prampolini and Dottori new models from which to draw inspiration. But soon after he returned to more traditional landscape painting. He died in Rome in 1965.

Augusta Monferini