Agostino Bonalumi (Italian, 1935-2013) was an Italian painter and sculptor whose work spans across almost seven decades. His talent can be exemplified by the fact that he exhibited his first works at the “Premio Nazionale Città di Vimercate” in 1948, when he was just thirteen years old.
Bonalumi had strong links with the German art scene. Because of this, he was introduced to the international Zero movement. This postwar avant-garde movement promoted a new style that was unconstrained by past artistic traditions. While he was not part of this movement, his exposure to it had influence on his work. Bonalumi held his first solo show at the Galleria Totti in Milan in 1956, which was followed by further shows in Rome, Milan, and Lausanne.
Around this time, he started developing what contemporary critic Gillo Dorfles would call “pittura-oggetto” (painting-object). The concept followed and built upon his mentor Lucio Fontana’s idea of going beyond the canvas. Bonalumi called his works estroflessioni, or extroflections, which were essentially canvases painted in a single color that he stretched, probed, and deformed from behind in different ways. In doing so, he extended the picture plane into what traditionally has been the space of the viewer, creating paintings that were simultaneously sculptures. This shows Bonalumi’s focus and career-long interest in creating a new concept of space.
Bonalumi was invited to take part in the 33rd, 35th, and the 42nd Venice Biennale, the 35th being in his own personal room with a feature written on him in the catalogue by Luciano Caramel. His work also extended beyond the canvas with his contributions to the crucial Italian publication, Azimuth magazine. He moved to New York in 1967 where his focus shifted to the study of Northern African and American art. During this period, Bonalumi embarked on his own particular course of painting and environmental sculpture, which unfolded over the decades in different stages.
Agostino Bonalumi died in 2013 in Desio, Italy.