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Antonio (Toti) Scialoja (Rome 1914 - Rome 1998)

Antonio (Toti) Scialoja was born in Rome in 1914 to a family of illustrious jurists. First he studied classics and law, then from the late 1930s he dedicated himself entirely to painting, combining this with intensive activity as an art critic; he also worked in the theatre, often collaborating with Aurel Milloss.
In the mid-1950s, following expressionist beginnings and a brief period of neo-cubism, his painting became abstract; he was now using a cloth instead of a brush, and vinyl adhesive which rapidly fixed to the canvas the new pigments that substituted oils. He became a great friend of Burri. He had a personal exhibition in New York in 1956 with his partner Gabriella Drudi and he met and frequented the greatest American abstract expressionists, including De Kooning and Motherwell. In 1957 he began producing his “imprints” – traces of a gesture left on the canvas, which constituted his most important technique and the most innovative European response to American action painting.
In 1960 he spent another long period in New York before settling in Paris where he lived until 1964. These were the years when he produced some of his best paintings, often of monumental proportions. In 1964, following a personal exhibition at the Venice Biennale, he returned to live in Rome, where he experienced a season of doubt and creative reticence. At this time, his passion for poetry intensified, leading him from the English tradition of nonsense rhymes to the more dramatic notes he achieved at a later age. At the start of the 1980s Scialoja once again embraced a technique that made a full and liberal use of gesture, thus producing a late season of his painting, which continued until his death in 1998.


Fabrizio D'Amico