I have this thing for art that sits squarely in the middle of an era and style, and does what it’s doing with grace. It may not move anything forward, but it’s what keeps artmaking humming. This 1954 painting by the Italian artist Afro Basaldella, titled “Boy with the Bull”, has that comfortable status for me – my pictorial equivalent of steak-and-potatoes. Afro (as he preferred to be known) had only recently left cubism behind, and a trip to the States left him under the sway of Arshile Gorky and the Abstract Expressionists. He turned their innovations into a really efficient recipe for providing visual pleasure. This painting is in a show at Haunch of Venison gallery in New York, alongside daring abstractions by Alberto Burri and the truly radical slashed canvases of Lucio Fontana. Afro doesn’t quite measure up, but that’s what makes his art so directly appealing.
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