Enrico Baj  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Enrico Baj (October 31, 1924- June 16 2003) was an Italian artist and art writer. Many of his works show an obsession with nuclear war. He created prints, sculptures but especially collage. He was close to the surrealist and dada movements, and was later associated with pop art. As an author he has been described as a leading promoter of the avant-garde He worked with Umberto Eco among other collaborators. He had a long interest in the pseudo-philosophy 'pataphysics.

He was born in Milan, into a wealthy family, but left Italy in 1944 having upset the authorities and to avoid conscription. He studied at the Milan University law faculty and the Brera Academy of Art.

In 1951 he founded the arte nucleare movement with Sergio Dangelo and Joe Colombo, which unlike the abstract art was overtly political. Baj himself was aligned with the anarchist movement. His most well-known pieces are probably he series of "Generals": absurd characters made from found objects such as belts or medals.

He made numerous works using motifs from other artists, from da Vinci to Picasso. Sometimes he recreated entire works of other painters.

In 1972 public display of a major work, "Funeral Of The Anarchist Pinelli" ( a reference to Carlo Carrà's famous painting The Funeral of the Anarchist Galli of 1911) was banned after the murder of the police officer believed to be responsible for Giuseppe Pinelli death in custody. However his work continued to be political. In his last years he created a series of paintings in protest at the election of Silvio Berlusconi.

Baj's work shows similarities with Jean Dubuffet, Roland Topor and the COBRA group. It has a grotesque quality. Baj has also collaborated with Paul Virilio in a book on art horror.

He died in Vergiate, Italy.[1] [May 2007]


Discourse on the horror of art (2002) - Paul Virilio, Enrico Baj

Originally titles Discorso sull’orrore dell’arte, Discourse on the horror of art is about the “horror of art” – is it the horror of contemporary art for itself or the horror it causes among public? Baj, as a painter, and Virilio as an urban planner, ask each other some questions about the statute and perception of art and the sites where it is housed and exhibited. The present destiny of art seems to be a key to understand the atmosphere of our time, as indeed the market of art anticipated the New Economy and the Virtual..

See also: art horror

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