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Enrico Baj was born in Milan, Italy on October 31, 1924. He studied at the Accademia di Brera. In 1951, along with Sergio Dangelo and Gianni Dova, he promoted the Movimento Arte Nucleare, and held 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. The following year, Baj organized the International Ceramics Meetings at Albisola in Liguria, Italy.
Baj’s artistic experiments resulted in multicolored collages made from many different materials. On the one hand, his work emphasises the joyful experience of painting with diverse materials; however, it also provides a social commentary and strong criticism of contemporary society. Such is the case of his Generali and Parate militari series from the 1960s, and even more so in his works from the 1970s, like I funerali dell’anarchico Pinelli (1972) and Apocalisse (1979). In the 1980s he temporarily abandoned collage 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 consist of used waste materials of modern civilization, assembled to create ironic and brightly colored masks. These pieces were followed by the Feltri (1993-98) and Totem (1997) series.
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, he 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 Sumerians. Enrico Baj died in Vergiate, near Varese, in Italy, on June 16, 2003.