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Enrico Baj was born in Milan on October 31, 1924, and studied at the Accademia di Brera. In 1951 he, along with Sergio Dangelo and Gianni Dova, promoted the Nuclear Movement, and had his first solo exhibition in Milan at the Galleria San Fedele. Upon meeting Asger Jorn in 1953, the two founded the International Movement for an Imaginist Bauhaus, which reacted against the forced rationalization and geometry of art, and the following year organized the International Ceramics Meetings at Albisola in Liguria, Italy.
Baj’s artistic experiments resulted in multicolored collages made from many different materials. On one hand, his work emphasises the joyful experience of painting with diverse materials; however, it also provides a social commentary and strong criticism of the contemporary world. Such is true for his Generali and Parate militari of the 1960s, and it is even more evident in works dating from the 1970s, such as I funerali dell’anarchico Pinelli (1972) and Apocalisse (1979). In the 1980s, he abandoned collage temporarily and made a series of works called Metamorfosi e Metafore (1988) in which his images were based on imagination and fantasy. In 1993, he started his Maschere tribali cycle, which consisted of assemblages that used waste materials of modern civilization to create ironic and brightly colored masks. These pieces were followed by Feltri (1993-98) and Totem (1997).
Throughout his life, Baj was in close contact with poets and intellectuals, both in Italy and abroad, and collaborated on numerous occasions to produce prints or original multiples for several artist books. In 1999, the artist once again reconfirmed his strong links to literature by producing a series of 164 portraits inspired by the Guermantes of Marcel Proust. He also collaborated with many artists, including Lucio Fontana and Piero Manzoni. In 2001, he started a series of works dedicated to the history of Gilgamesh, the King of the Sumers. Enrico Baj died in Vergiate (Varese), Italy, on June 16, 2003.