From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Enrico Baj (October 31, 1924 - June 16, 2003) was an Italian avant-garde artist, 'pataphysicist and art writer. He was a great admirer of Francis Picabia and his grotesqueries show similarities with Jean Dubuffet, Roland Topor and the COBRA group. He has also collaborated with Paul Virilio in a book on art horror, Discourse on the horror of art.
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.
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.
He died in Vergiate, Italy.