Luxembourg & Dayan in collaboration with Gió Marconi are honoured to present Enrico Baj: The
Artist’s Home, a presentation for Frieze Masters 2017 dedicated to the legacy of Italian artist Enrico Baj
A preeminent figure of the postwar neo-avant-garde, Enrico Baj’s artworks and political writings resonated with movements from Dada, Surrealism, Art Informel, and CoBrA to the Nuclear Art movement that he cofounded with fellow artist Sergio Dangelo. Despite Baj’s deep involvement with so many art historical currents, his works resolutely spurn classification. Departing from gestural abstraction in the mid-1950s, Baj honed an idiosyncratic painterly practice that embraced figuration and kitsch symbols to subvert bourgeois conventions of “good taste.” His works are profoundly imaginative, with a penchant for the absurd, but nonetheless keenly attuned to the concerns of their socio-political context.
We have long been intrigued by Baj’s wide ranging oeuvre, precisely because it defies any easy historical categorization. In 2015, the gallery presented an exhibition of Baj’s work in New York. This was the first survey exhibition of his work in the United States since 1971. We then continued our research into the legacy of Baj’s work with the publication of the book Enrico Baj: The Artist’s Home earlier this year in collaboration with Skira Rizzoli. The book examines Baj’s oeuvre through the pivotal role occupied by the artist’s exceptional home and studio in Vergiate, in the north of Italy. The project was born from the conviction that a deeper understanding of this distinctive artist could be gleaned by looking to the place from which his works originated. The uniquely symbiotic relationship between Baj’s works and his home is striking; deeply intertwined, the one illuminates the other. We might, in fact, see the artist’s home as his ultimate Gesamtkunstwerk – an embodiment of his irreverent vision.
For Frieze Masters 2017 we have decided to mark the publication of Enrico Baj: The Artist Home with a rare selection of works that form the nucleus of Baj’s versatile yet highly recognizable oeuvre. Inspired by the unique hanging style and sensibility that Baj maintained in his home the presentation will include paintings from Baj’s Mountains series (1957-1959), which feature granular, mottled mountains and incorporate patterned fabrics as skies that reflect the artist’s concern with the atomic age; his Modifications series (1957-1959) in which Baj made use of thrift-store paintings of pastoral landscapes and voluptuous nudes as backdrops for his own garish figures, flying saucers, and other figments of science fiction; his Furniture paintings (1960-1961), incorporating collaged scraps of furniture that mimic period design pieces; and the iconic Generals and Ladies series (1959-1980), where crude, brutish figures adorned with ribbons, textiles, and patterned wallpapers, offer a farcical commentary on the corruptive effects of power and a defunct aristocracy.