Friday, October 13, 2023

Enrico Baj, BAJ: ebanisterie e mobili (cabinet making and furniture), Galleria Schwarz, Dec. 2, 1961 - January 12, 1962, Milan, 1962

I didn't really know what I was getting when I purchased this catalogue online, but what attracted me was its faux wooden cover. I knew Baj (1924-2003) as an Italian artist with an outsider aesthetic, who was also an anarchist and involved with the Milanese avant-garde of the mid-1950s. In 1951 he was the co-founder with Sergio Dangelo of the arte nucleare movement, whose aim was to make art in response to the nuclear age. Probably best known for his series of paintings titled Generals which were absurdist representations of generals and political figures whom he lampooned and critiqued with a vengeance.

This series of Furniture paintings were made from actual scraps of furniture and mimic period design pieces. The catalogue includes an interesting text in three languages by Octavio Paz entitled "The furniture-pieces of Enrico Bay". The Surrealist writer Andre Breton also wrote about these works stating that "...the 'period furniture' shows the extent to which the enemy is capable of infiltrating the comfort of our homes, our 'easy chairs' and 'lounges' which mold him and conceal him...What a flagrant invasion of our intimate existence!"

10 double-sided pages, individually 9" x 6.25" and when fully open 4ft 8.25"

reverse with Octavio Paz text

back cover with Alfred Jarry quote "I was a cabinet maker for a long time."
Furniture works in situ in a room in Baj's villa
Copyright Archivo Baj, Vergiate, 2017, photography by Filippo Armellin

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