Piero Dorazio's Biography

Piero Dorazio (Rome, June 29, 1927 – Perugia, May 17, 2005) was an Italian painter, who since 1945 has contributed to the affirmation of abstract art in Italy with his painting.

Dorazio was born in Rome where, after completing his classical studies, he began his student life with architecture, but quickly turned to art and painting in particular. Very young, in 1944, he met the abstract movement of the Italian capital and began a series of collaborations with his protagonists. Since 1945 he has participated as a leading exponent in the activity of the Arte Sociale group. Together with his friends Lucio Manisco, Mino Guerrini and Achille Perilli he attended Renato Guttuso’s studio in the first post-war period, but he soon moved away from the theses of socialist realism and joined the abstract movement.

In 1947 he was among the signatories of the Forma 1 Group manifesto, together with Ugo Attardi, Pietro Consagra, Mino Guerrini, Achille Perilli, Antonio Sanfilippo, Giulio Turcato and Carla Accardi. Also in 1947 he won a scholarship from the École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts in Paris, where he will reside for a year.

In 1948 he participated in the National Review of Figurative Arts (V National Quadrennial of Art) in Rome. With Perilli and Guerrini in 1950 he opens in via del Babuino, Rome, the library-gallery “L’Age d’Or“, which in 1951 will merge with the group “Origine” of Mario Ballocco, Alberto Burri, Giuseppe Capogrossi, Ettore Colla, giving life to the “Origin Foundation“, in which Colla and Dorazio publish the magazine “Arti Visive“.

In the summer of 1953 he is invited to the Harvard International Seminar, at Harvard University, Cambridge, where he gave two lectures. In September Virginia Dortch becomes his wife and they settle in New York where he held his first personal exhibitions in the Wittenborn One-Wall Gallery and in the Rose Fried Gallery in 1954. During his stay in the United States he came into contact with the most important personalities of the epochs as the painters Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, Barnett Newman, Robert Motherwell and the art critic Clement Greenberg. In this period, Dorazio also focuses on the study of the writings of Vasily Vasil’evič Kandinskij, whose theory on the immaterial aspects of painting will greatly influence him.

Later, he returned to Italy where he continued an intense and constant exhibition activity with personal exhibitions at the Apollinaire Gallery in Milan, at the Galleria del Cavallino in Venice in 1955 and at the Galleria La Tartaruga in Rome in 1957. He periodically makes artistic stays in many European cities including such as Paris, London, Prague, Düsseldorf and Berlin which will contribute to spreading his popularity and fame even far from Italy. In 1959 he took part in Documenta 2 in Kassel.

In 1960, he founded the department of fine arts at the School of Fine Arts at Pennsylvania University in Philadelphia, which in the 1960s had been recognized as the best school of art and architecture in the United States of America and of which he was director and for one semester a year also professor until 1967.

He exhibited in three editions of the Venice Biennale in 1960 where, invited by Lionello Venturi, a personal room was dedicated to him and then in 1966 and 1988.

In 1961 in Berlin, he participates in the activity of Gruppo Zero together with Heinz Mach, Otto Pine and Gunter Uecher, in Paris he receives the Kandinsky Prize and the first Prize of the Biennale des Jeunes while one of his personal exibition is set up in the spaces of the Kunstverein in Düsseldorf.

In 1963 one of his works was exhibited at the Contemporary Italian Paintings exhibition, set up in some Australian cities. In 1963-64 he exhibited at the Peintures italiennes d’aujourd’hui exhibition, organized in the Middle East and North Africa. In 1965 he participated in the exhibition The responsive eye at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

In 1966, after his second participation in the Venice Biennale, he exhibited at the Galerie Im Erker, in San Gallo, where he established an artistic partnership with Giuseppe Ungaretti: in fact, for the occasion Ungaretti wrote an essay on his painting for the presentation of the catalogue while in 1967 it was Dorazio to create a series of graphics to accompany Ungaretti’s collection of poems entitled “La luce”.

In 1968 Dorazio resided for six months in Berlin where he taught at the Deutsche Akademishe Austauschdienst. In 1970 he definitively stopped teaching to devote himself exclusively to painting.

In 1971, after having had a studio in Rome, Paris, New York, Philadelphia, Berlin, in 1974 he moved permanently to Todi where he bought an ancient Camaldolese hermitage and here continued to create until 2005, the year of his death.

In 1984 he married Giuliana Soprani. The same year, he collaborated for the “Corriere della Sera”, becoming the accredited art critic of the newspaper.

In 1989 he collaborated on the Fiumara d’Arte di Tusa project, a large open-air museum park of contemporary art conceived by Antonio Presti, with the colourful ceramic decoration of the Carabinieri barracks in Castel di Lucio created in collaboration with Graziano Marini. Also commissioned by Presti, and together with Marini, Dorazio in 1996 also created the art room of the Atelier sul Mare in Castel di Tusa entitled The painting room. In 1994 he made permanent artistic interventions at the Maison des Arts in Pescara.

In 1992 he ran for the Chamber of Deputies with the Marco Pannella List in the constituency of Rome-Viterbo-Latina-Frosinone, without being elected.

Piero Dorazio specializes in Italian art in revival, but at the same time carries on his work as a painter, art critic, lecturer and organizer of exhibitions. He begins his career as a painter with figurative works, but these will later take on a cubist and then futurist spirit, characterized by vivid and contrasting tones. In 1947 linear sculpture appears. Dorazio will experience a constructivist period (1955), then informal. The “gesture” is of capital importance for Dorazio; his “Reticoli” of overlapping lines and colours, which can to create a skilful optical melange of tones, are the expression of his gestures.

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