Biography highlights

Antonio Scaccabarozzi Merate (LC, Italy) 1936 - Santa Maria Hoè (LC, Italy) 2008

Antonio Scaccabarozzi was born in Merate in 1936.
In 1951 starts working in Milan at a photolithography Studio as a designer. In 1959 he obtains a diploma at the Castello Sforzesco's art school in Milan.
He moves to Paris where he lives from 1960 to 1965.During this time he works as a decorator in theatre and movie productions.
His first exhibition is in the Elio Agresti Center Milan in 1965.

1965 Abstract painting.

1969 Creates works founded on a methodological development plan of a programme. The continuous renewal of the rules, reveals unexpected interesting aspects.

1979 The measurements have lost their structural consistency.

1983 The feature of this period works’is based in the convinction that; stretching a quantity of colour, is yet making painting.

1995 The work of art becomes an object that splits and contains the space.

1996 The background is involved and integrated while seen through the work of art.

2001 Polyethylene. The title of these works have the name of the place where the material-coloured polyethylene has been bought. The material bought in different places, shows its casual difference of colour.

2002 Ekleipsis (polyethylene). Works composed from two chromatic bodies, fixed at short distance one upon the other. When the spectator moves changing his point of view, the surface that covers the other lying under it, moves too, covering it completely it. The previous sensation is completely changed.

2003 Banchise (polyethylene), there is something that is kept in a measure, between clearly visible reality and another, more secret one.

2005 Velature, paintings



Antonio Scaccabarozzi, born in 1936 in Merate, Lecco, always defined himself as an artist giving to this definition an ethical value, absolute and binding for life.

Even as a child, growing up in a modest family, in  surroundings still reminiscent of the countryside, he is influenced by a relative who is an artist  becoming fascinated by clouds of "yellow Naples Rose " and stories about the City of Light. His closeness to the aristocratic family where his beloved grandfather works leads him to develop a highly aesthetic sense to beautiful things at a tender age ; whether manmade objects or the natural world around him, a rare attitude in one growing up in such surroundings. Also early on despite the war, the poverty, and the fear that grips not  only the heart of his country but also his own, he is convinced that, as an adult, he will become a painter and dreams of a future of freedom and light for himself beyond his homeland, in the metropolis just 30km away, namely Milan.

In 1951, at the age of just 15 and a half, as he later often liked to point out, he goes to work as a photo printing apprentice in  Milan. The metropolis, emerging from the war, opens up in front of him but does not at all have the charm the young Monza had expected. He comes to various living arrangements, from common dormitories for workers coming from out of the city, to " full board" with the priests, and a lady who owned many cats in the street, via Alzaia del Naviglio.

In 1954, to keep his dream of art alive,  he enrolls in evening painting classes at the Castello Sforzesco School of Applied Arts. It is the only school he's able to attend, as he has to work. The Professor, Francesco Fedeli and many of his classmates, are always part of the stories he tells.

During these years, he takes part, as an attentive spectator, in all the artistic events in Milan . He visits the Brera district making sketches of various personalities, including Carlo Carra and his wife; for a period actually dwelling in via Brera. Getting to know at first hand, those who would one day become the great icons of the artistic avantgarde, Piero Manzoni and Lucio Fontana. He witnesses bizarre scenes and anecdotes at the bar Jamaica. As a young boy, working out of unquestionable necessity, and attending  evening school  he also gets to know, and often portrays, the other side of Milan, that of the proletariat laborer who usually hangs around other neighbourhoods, more towards the area of Porta Ticinese, quite different  from those intellectual places in Brera.

In 1959 he graduates and finally, with a school friend, Anchises Roncato, leaves for Paris.

He was to live in Paris for five years, frequenting the theatre scene where he and his friend work as scenery painters.

Around that intensely lived time, the stories of Scaccabarozzi all have something both mythical and heroic altogether. Long periods of starving, staying in cold, damp rooms  interspersed with frequent visits to the high life; with invitations to villas and historic houses and dinners in luxury restaurants. Now working in the theater, now occasionally accepting restoration work for high society and the very rich, rubbing shoulders with the Parisian Avant-Garde and the city's high society. Working to earn a living but also to travel and visit the great museums of European . The two young men often setting off on their travels on the back of their Vespa.

Scaccabarozzi, qualified painter, skilled and used to doiing everything necessary to express and create his art (but still not in the least "conceptual" as  Flaminio Gualdoni pointed out a few years ago) studies two great personalities by closely observing their work: Piet Mondriaan and Pablo Picasso; falling, for different but obvious reasons, a little in love with one, a little with the other.

While his fellow students and travelers enter the world of interior design at the very highest level, working alongside the great and well-known architect Mongiardino, Scaccabarozzi decides to follow another path, that of art. Inevitably there followed a kind of break up with his old friends but only with regard to work while their affection for each other remained constant forever.

 After Paris, he travels to London where between one adventure and another he studies the English language in Stratford upon Avon,  after, staying for a long period in the Netherlands, and then concluding with a long journey through Spain.

His work in these years is clearly influenced by the great Parisian artistic movements of the time. Many of his paintings show influences of Hans Arp and Fernand Léger. Sinuous shapes, like great roads, that unfold on the canvas, intertwine and gradually fade away.

 On returning to Milan he lives for a short period in the Botteghe of Sesto San Giovanni Quarter, in accommodation provided by the building contractor Valade to artists in exchange for their works, and it is here that he meets or meets again the acquaintances he had before leaving Milan. In these years all the artistic world hangs around or passes through the Botteghe Quarter, where, between heated arguments momentous fights, reconciliations and bouts of drinking that make history, the panorama of the avantgard artists of  Milan unfolds .

Antonio Scaccabarozzi would never become part of the Brera Academy scene, but would work  alongside the great Milanese artists of the 60's Many of them becoming his friends; exhibiting with him in the years to come, especially in Germany.

 After returning to Italy, his first period of work,, involves Static-Dynamic equilibrium, a clear reference to his youthful love for Neoplasticism to the point of also touching on , though rarely, the kinetic shapes of objects.

In fact it is this creation of  motion through light that would be behind the idea of placing elements on canvas. The same set of problems, namely the behaviour of light creating constantly varying volumes, structures and surfaces, inspires Scaccabarozzi to use a holepunch to create small (or large) "cutouts", circles in relief.

The next problem he confronts is that of Prevalenze. Coloured dots arranged on canvas in mathematical order. The result is highly poetic and absolutely in line with the experiments that many artists have been conducting since the late 60s. Together with Paolo Minoli and Nato Frascà and, under the guidance of Alberto Veca, they form the group Interrogazione Sistematica .

 While working on Prevalenze he meets a person who would become a turning point in his career, Antonio Calderara. The respect this great artist shows him would transform into contacts with galleries abroad, especially in Germany and Switzerland. We could say, that Antonio Calderara provided the passport to Scaccabarozzi's work. Fustellati and Prevelance are shown in many exhibitions abroad.

Scaccabarozzi, returning definitively to his hometown Merate,  becomes the painter of the "dots".

In the early seventies Scaccabarozzi starts to experiment with the decentralization of  art from the big city to the small town,  like that of Merate. After meeting Giorgio Casati, they create a gallery of international scope in Merate. Scaccabarozzi introduces Casati to the greatest and  most respected artists of the times, and not only those from the Milan area. Thanks to Scaccabarozzi  a unique experiment was born, still to be discovered and talked about today. The Casati Studio, which ended its exhibiting days with Beuys, would go down in history!

 But Scaccabarozzi's desire  to experiment and explore other possibilities does not end in his achieving a respectful reputation as an artist .

After years of dedication to rationality, the artist frees himself from the concept and shape of dots and decides to experiment with measurement in every possible shape and form.

Measurement, taken almost as an oxymoron, of almost straight lines, of real distances and representative distances, weighing fragments of color attached to the canvas or paper, measuring the paper surface that he has scratched with a sharp object, measuring the amount of color he has injected onto the canvas or the colored water in which he has dipped a cloth, counting how many times he has written a word on paper ...

The measurement period exhausts itself when the artist feels the need to break free not only from calculations but from every kind of obvious and compulsory preordained scheme. So the Quantities LIBERE (FREE) are born. Quantities of color on various surfaces without no longer any need  for precision .

Obviously Scaccabarozzi is now in search of new galleries, with a new vision,  able to understand and fund his new work. In Italy the old collaborations (see Gallery Lorenzelli Bergamo) end, contacts with the galleries still dealing in works of the 70's are gone forever.

 We arrive now in the 80's, signalling a very special moment in Scaccabarozzi's artistic life. The painter, which is what he in fact is, takes a road that is absolutely his , without any reference to other artistic movements, while still remaining totally  aware of international artistic movements. During these years he also travels to New York visiting all the major museums and art institutions in the city.

Scaccabarozzi applies a quantity of color to, what is for him, a new material, sheets of polyethylene. The lightness, transparency and versatility of the material fascinate him. The polyethylene sheets open up a new road.

These works, with quantities of blue ink laid on polyethylene, are largely exhibited and appreciated in Germany and completely neglected and ignored in Italy. Plastics in huge dimensions and in many other colors follow,  exhibited for the first and last time in Bremen, in the 90's.

By laying the main body of the paint on a transparent surface  it was possible to see the color as isolated and it is on noticing  this , that the artist took inspiration to create an amalgam of glue and color, that, when dry,  becomes something like the very structure of the quantity itself. These works are called Essentials.

Essentials are also mainly exhibited in Germany; at the Hoffmann gallery  in Friedberg and Saarbrucken.

 The great return to plastic takes place at the end of the nineties. The question of transparency, of what you see and perceive DI QUA’ (HERE) 'and  DI LA’ (THERE) are the greatest questions that the artist asks. Gradually the plastic sheets are treated as if they were layers of color. The sheets of plastic floating in space, hung and kept in place by  fine fisherman's thread.

Also these pieces are rarely bought in Italy, while in Badenweiler, the historic Louise Krohn gallery gives both space and voice to this artistic expression. Louise Krohn, an important and knowledgeable person,  senses the same soul of the artist in the sheets of plastic as well as in the refined watercolors (Quantity) .

On the death of Mrs. Krohn, her son, Ekke Duiz takes her place in embracing and supporting this style of work. Collectors close to Basel fall in love with what will soon be known, generically, as plastics.

Plastics are not shown in major exhibitions or at art fairs but are appreciated in special showings in France and Germany. Scaccabarozzi lives only for his work, like an ascetic who finds the strength to face each new day in his mental attitude of having faith in what he does. He accepts no kind of compromise. He is convinced that the market and the critics will take notice and if  not , no problem: it should not be necessary to be understood by others, in order to live.

 Then in the mid 2000's the artist Scaccabarozzi, at over 65 years old, expresses the desire to return to painting. A devourer of books from an early age (with Proust as his spiritual guide) he now seeks to deepen his knowledge of Leonardo.

The Velature, thin veils of oil color over a base color painted on stretched canvas or canvas board could be seen as  Scaccabarozzi's homage to this illustrious ancestor. His first and last exhibition of these beautiful paintings, at Katharina Krohn's gallery in Basel, is entitled Yellow Naples Rose. After the memory of an uncle who painted the clouds in that very color.

The life of Antonio Scaccabarozzi ended, after a summer by the sea, in his beloved Greece. His last memory of that trip was a  fiery Mykonos dawn.