Gianfranco Baruchello


Gianfranco Baruchello


Gianfranco Baruchello’s name is related to an artistic universe that presents multiple gravitational centers. Born in Livorno in 1924, the artist has passed through several seasons in the second half of the twentieth century until today, when his activity continues within the framework of his Foundation. His production, which touches all mediums of expressions and is animated by an encyclopedic approach, puts him in an autonomous position with respect to the main art movements of the time.

The son of a lawyer and a teacher, at the age of seven he moved to Rome. The war interrupted his studies, which ended with a law degree (with a thesis on economics). He got a job in the Bombrini Parodi Delfino Company, before moving – on the advice of his father - to the direction of the Institute of Research and Biological Applications (IRAB) in 1947. Two years later, he founded the Biomedical Society, a chemical-biological research and production company. 1959 marks the turning point in his life, with the decision to leave the business world to devote himself to artistic activity.

His early experiments in the late fifties follow a number of directions - the word, the object, the painting – in the context of informal and neo-dada trends. He moves between Rome, Paris and New York, in contact with intellectuals of different fields, especially literature (Balestrini, Calvino, Eco, Jouffroy, Manganelli, Sanguineti) and philosophical ones (Lyotard, Guattari). The meeting and friendship with Marcel Duchamp is fundamental. Baruchello develops a practice that is articulated around the techniques of assembly, editing and archive, happening (qualified by the author as "long distance"), cinema, writing. Once, describing his own research (in the third person), he writes: «The work or rather the life of B. consists in the use of a system (for example painting or cinema) to understand and illustrate other systems, that is, complex facts, and nothing is more complex than reality»[1].

Among the most innovative operations, Artiflexis a fictitious company presented in 1968, based on the assumption that the artist does not have to lend his work to the industry but to simulate its methods (the slogan is "Artiflex commodifies everything"). A number of different activities are carried out under this title (Finanziaria ArtiflexTeatro PaccoGrande Manifesto ArtiflexPiccolo capitale a fondo perdutoPrigione privata). In the Artiflexproject, issues relating to the market economy, to the world of production and commerce, are sabotaged and destroyed through the irony characteristic of the 1968 spirit.

In 1973 Baruchello moved to a big house with a plot of land on the northern outskirts of Rome (at 6.5 km of Via di Santa Cornelia), where he established Agricola Cornelia SpA, a company whose corporate purpose was that of cultivating the land. This chapter of his artistic work occupies him for eight years, ending in 1981. Agricultural company and work of art at the same time, Agricola Cornelia is a complex experiment of practical, intellectual and imaginative nature, in which a series of themes converge that go beyond those strictly linked to the agricultural field - such as land and food - to affect fields such as economics, politics, art, and issues like feminism.

Once ended the experience of Agricola Cornelia, the artist's interests shifted towards the themes of architecture and living, and later on to a reflection on the garden (since 1985) and the forest (since 1990).

In 1998 he took the decision to donate all of his assets to a Foundation named after him and conceived together with Carla Subrizi, with the purpose to open up his research to a common dimension. In 2014, another space in the center of Rome is added to the spaces in Via Santa Cornelia.

About a decade ago, when asked about the reasons of his artistic work, Baruchello replied: «To make sense of the useand maintenanceof concepts starting from the percepti, considering the error and the loss of quality as a motiffor the discovery of the diversity. Starting from a space that refers to uncertainty, I proposed a multiplicity of images, even of minimal dimensions, to start again, in the dissemination, the search for a possible painting»[2].

[1]In the invitation of the exhibition Baruchello. Scorribande lontane, May 31 - June 22 1985, Roma, Circolo Culturale Sperandisole, pp. 3-4, Roma.

[2]G. Baruchello, in ICE CREAM. Contemporary Art in Culture, Phaidon, London-New York 2007, pp. 36-39. 


Baruchello, Gianfranco

Collection Items

Do it yourself confession
Do it yourself confessionis the idea of a confessional in which it is possible to self-administer the sacrament of confession. Conceived by Gianfranco Baruchello in 1967, the project is unrealised, like many others of the author, and it can be…
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