Mirko Basaldella was born in Udine, Italy, on September 28, 1910. He grew up in a family of artists, studying in Venice and Florence with brothers Dino, a sculptor, and Afro, a painter. He attended the Institute of Applied Arts in Monza, where he studied under Arturo Marini. At the age of eighteen, he participated in a group exhibition with his brothers in Udine. In 1934, after moving to Rome with his brother Afro, he had his first solo exhibition at the Galleria della Cometa. In 1935 he was invited to represent the Roman School at the Venice Biennale.

In 1937 he went to Paris and visited the Exposition Universelle, where he was able to see several turn-of-the-century, avant-garde masterpieces. While only somewhat taken by the work of the Surrealists, he was deeply affected by Cubism, and his work from 1939 to 1945 shows evidence of a growing synthesis between his own visual language and the modernist artistic trends of the early 20th century. During this period he was involved in various public commissions, the most important among these was the project for the gates of the mausoleum of the Fosse Ardeatine in Rome. At the beginning of the 1950s, he travelled to the United States with other Italian artists and held a solo exhibitions at the Catherine Viviano Gallery in New York. His artistic achievements were further recognized in 1955, when he was included in the A New Decade: 22 European Painters and Sculptors exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and again that year when he won the first prize at the São Paulo Bienal.

In 1957 he was appointed director of the design workshop of Harvard University, Massachusetts, where he made monumental sculptures for private and public collections. In the meantime, he spent his summers in Italy and took part in several group shows. In 1954 he exhibited at the Venice Biennale, and Peggy Guggenheim bought a number of his works for her collection. He received many awards, among them the prize for sculpture at the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei in 1959, a nomination to the Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1962, and first prize at the Rome Quadriennale in 1966. Mirko died in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on September 24, 1969.


Mirko Basaldella



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