Rome, 1900 – Rome, 1972
Born in an aristocratic family, Giuseppe Capogrossi pursued a law career alongside his artistic practice. Capogrossi began his career as a figurative painter. His inspiration broadened when he enrolled in Felice Carena’s renowned ‘Scuola di Nudo’ between 1923 and 1924, where he studied nudes, landscapes and still lifes.
In 1927, he began working with Fausto Pirandello, and went on his first trip to Paris, where he met the international avant-garde. Soon after, in 1930, he took part in the 17th Venice Biennale and in an exhibition at the Galleria del Milione in Milan with his friends Cagli and Cavalli. The three artists then returned to Paris in 1933 exhibiting for the last time as what George Waldemar defined as ‘The School of Rome’ in Galerie Jacques Bojan.
As Capogrossi was reaching international success, he got invited to take part in the Venice Biennale nine times between 1934 and 1968, and in 1937, he also exhibited in the 1937 ‘Exhibition of Paintings’ in Pittsburgh, in the ‘Anthology of Contemporary Italian Painting’ at the Cometa Art Gallery in New York, and at the Akademie der Künste in Berlin.
He also participated in the Quadriennale Nazionale d’Arte of Rome in 1935, 1939, 1943, 1955, and again in 1957. After the war, Capogrossi abandoned figuration to dedicate himself to Informal Art. In 1951, he founded the ‘Origine group’ with Ballocco, Colli and Burri, and in 1952, he joined the ‘Gruppo Spaziale’ in Milan.
He explained his turn towards abstraction through the radical conception that form is no longer imitated, but assimilated. Titled simply Superficie, the new works were graphic arrangements of repeated elementary symbols encoded through a brand new semiotic language, seemingly archaic and indecipherable.
With his international renown still growing, Capogrossi participated in the Salon de Mai in Paris, in the Milan Triennale, and in Documenta I and II in Kassel, as well as in the third and fifth Sao Paulo biennials. He was invited to the Tokyo International Biennial in 1960 and to the 17th Salon de Paris.
In 1962 he had his own room in the Venice Biennale and won the first prize alongside Fausto Morlotti. He later exhibited in the collective ‘Painting and Sculpture of Decade 1954 – 1964’ exhibition at the Tate Gallery in London.
© GIUSEPPE CAPOGROSSI, by SIAE 2023