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Berto Lardera was born in La Spezia, Italy, on December 18, 1911. He was a self-taught artist who first developed an interest for sculpture while completing his classical studies in Florence, where he lived until 1947. He became familiar with contemporary painting and sculpture during a visit to Paris and London in 1929, and returned to Paris in 1935 to study sculpture. In 1939 he moved to the south of France, where he created many designs and projects that he would later make into sculptures. The same year he returned to Florence, where, until 1942, he experimented with different techniques and media, including clay, plaster, marble, stone, wood, and bronze. During this year he also had his first solo exhibition at the Galleria del Milione, Milan.
Lardera’s work was abstract in nature but nearly always made figurative references, between 1942 and 1945 the artist created the first examples of what he referred to as “two-dimensional sculpture.” These nearly flat, metallic constructions were made of vertical and perpendicular elements combined with colored iron sheets and mosaic-detail inserts. Starting from 1949, a third dimension was added to his compositions by constructing more elaborate geometrical planes. By organically linking schematic shapes in a single space, the artist created architectural spatial constructions that were open and airy, thus nullifying the solidity and density of their three-dimensional volume by allowing air and light to fill the voids created by the intersection of the planes themselves.
In 1947 Lardera settled permanently in Paris and the following year had a solo exhibition of his two-dimensional sculptures and drawings at Galerie Denise René. He took part in the Salon de Mai and in the Salon des Réalité Nouvelles and in 1948 was invited to exhibit at the Venice Biennale, the first of many times he would participate in the international event. After that he exhibited at the São Paulo Bienal and at the Documenta, Kassel, in 1955, and at the New Delhi triennial in 1968. Lardera died in Paris on February 23, 1989.