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Agostino Bonalumi was born on July 10, 1935, in Vimercate, Italy. A self-taught painter, he took up art after abandoning his formal studies in technical and mechanical design. In 1956 he had his first solo exhibition at the Galleria Totti in Milan. While visiting the studio of painter Enrico Baj, Bonalumi met Enrico Castellani and Piero Manzoni, with whom he exhibited in Rome, Lausanne, and Milan in 1958. The following year, he founded the periodical Azimuth with Castellani and began to frequent Lucio Fontana’s studio, which led him to investigate matters of space and to produce his first Estroflessioni. Referred to by the artist as Picture-Objects, these were made using frames and structures, which, when placed on the back of his canvases, caused them to stretch and deform.
In the 1960s he created environmental objects designed for the viewer to actively engage with. His most important pieces of this kind are Blu abitabile (1967), Grande ambiente bianco e nero (1968), and Ambiente pittura dal giallo al bianco e dal bianco al giallo (1979). He participated in the Venice Biennale several times, first in 1966, then in 1970 with a room reserved entirely for his work, and again in 1986. In 1980 Palazzo Te in Mantova mounted a major retrospective of his work, and the following year Bonalumi joined artists Piero Dorazio, Mimmo Rotella, and Giuseppe Santomaso in the group show Italian Art: Four Contemporary Directions at the Museum of Art in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Bonalumi was also involved in set design. In 1970 he designed both the sets and the costumes for Susanna Egri’s ballet, Partita, staged at the Teatro Romano of Verona, and in 1972 did the same for the ballet, Rot, held at the Teatro dell’ Opera in Rome.
He was awarded the Presidente della Repubblica Prize in 2002, and on this occasion the Accademia Nazionale di S. Luca presented a retrospective of his work at Palazzo Carpegna, Rome. In 2003 an exhibition of his work took place at the Civica Galleria d’Arte Moderna in Gallarate, and he took part in the Futuro Italiano exhibition at the European Parliament in Brussels. Most recently, in 2003-04, a solo exhibition of the artist’s work was held at the Institut Mathildenhöe, Darmstadt. Agostino Bonalumi died in Desio on September 18, 2013.