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Gastone Novelli (Vienna 1925 - Milan 1968)

Gastone Novelli was born in Vienna in 1925. He came to Italy and took his high school diploma in Rome. A member of the Resistance, he was arrested by the Germans and condemned to death, but the sentence was commuted. Released from prison at the liberation of Rome, in 1945 he moved to Florence and took a university degree in political science. In Zurich in 1947 he met Max Bill and began to take an interest in painting and graphic art. Through Bill he established a relationship with the Milanese avant-garde and its neo-concretism. In 1948 he had a protracted stay in Brazil, where he dedicated himself to ceramics. After a return to Europe, he was back in Brazil in 1950 before settling definitively in Europe in 1954, in Rome. His painting at this time was in the vein of geometrical abstract art.
In 1957, together with Achille Perilli, he founded and edited the review L’esperienza moderna, working with European, primarily French, artists, writers and critics. He reached his artistic maturity, first drawing near to material art and a vaguely Informalist gesturalism (not without some suggestions drawn from Afro, for whom he served as assistant at the fine arts high school, and from Scialoja) and then, in the wake of Dadaism combined with the memory of Klee, increasingly inclined towards a sign that traces, on the pictorial page, questions, rarefactions, multiple interrupted directions. Writing now came to inhabit his paintings, it too always bent to his fable-like, dreaming purposes.
In the 1960s Novelli emerged, also among the new generation, as one of the artists most open to dialogue with the contemporary drive of art, though he remained tied to the traditional concept of painting. He held numerous shows in Italy, Europe and New York. In 1968, given a solo room at the Venice Biennale, to protest against the presence of the police in the exhibition hall’s garden and in solidarity with the youth revolt, the day of the inauguration he turned all his paintings to the wall.
Gastone Novelli died prematurely that same year in Milan as he was preparing to hold a course at the Brera Academy.


Fabrizio D'Amico