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Material and technique
mixed technique on canvas
70 x 100 cm
Fabrizio D'Amico
Scattered over the entire surface of the painting, the soft, mellow colours – which appear to emanate from the touch of palest pink at the centre of the composition – writhe in the open and potentially infinite space of the pictorial field; they are free from all ties; no probe of perspective anchors them to any point. They are suspended as if in amniotic fluid, glimpsed between brief retroflexions and resurfacings, while just one darting stroke of black, low down in the composition, detaches itself from the subdued and harmonious tonal dialogue.
By the beginning of the 1960s Afro was at the height of his international career. He had won the Gran Premio at the 1956 Biennale, completed a mural commissioned for the new UNESCO building in Paris in 1958, and was gaining increasing notoriety in both public and private settings in the United States, Kassel, Saõ Paulo, Paris, Milan and Rome. The 1960 Biennale dedicated an entire room to him. In 1961 J. J. Sweeney wrote a major monograph on him, and leading Italian critics (Brandi and Argan first among them) followed his work with great attention. Work that gradually evolved, as this painting exhibited for the first time in New York in 1963 reveals, towards a joyous abandon in the use of colour along with a gestural vehemence which, while controlled, demonstrates his close ties with the great American action painting school, owing primarily to his friendship with Scialoja.
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