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Son of one of the founders of the socialist party of Sassari, Aligi Sassu was born in Milan in 1912 but soon his family moved to Sardinia where for three years he lived in contact with the horses and the strong colors of the Mediterranean. Back in Milan, he became passionate about reading Futurists: it is the father, a friend of Carlo Carrà, who instills this passion in him and takes him to the first group exhibition of the futurists at the Cova at just seven years of age.
In 1925 he was forced by family economic difficulties to abandon school (which will end with evening courses) to work first in a lithographic workshop and then with a wall decorator. When with Bruno Munari he learns that Marinetti meets young artists at the Corso Hotel, he presents himself with drawings on Mafarka the futurist (Marinetti's work). The following evening, during a demonstration, Marinetti indicates them as "two young promises of Italian art" and in 1928 he invited Sassu to send two works to the Venice Biennale: Plastic nude and the Man who drinks at the source. Sassu then signs together with Munari
the manifesto of painting Dynamism and muscle reform, which was unpublished until 1977.
He enrolled in the Brera Academy where he met Lucio Fontana. When he has to abandon it for economic reasons, he attends the Free Academy set up by the director of the Milan Gallery, Barbaroux, which allows him to have easels and models in exchange for a painting a month for his gallery.
The academy is short-lived and Sassu continues its activity in a studio rented in Piazza Susa together with Manzù. Cyclists and red men were born in this period.
Two stays a Paris confirm on one hand his love for French nineteenth-century painting (leaving the light of cafes in his eyes, a theme often frequented) and on the other his political commitment. It works against fascism and manifests its anti-Franco position with the Shooting of Asturias. A commitment that continues also in Italy where, on the occasion of the defeat of Mussolini in the battle of Guadalajara, he writes with De Grada a manifesto praising the insurrection. Because of this poster, found during a search in 1937, he comes arrested and locked up in San Vittore and then in the Regina Coeli. Months of great crisis: he cannot devote himself to painting. Only when he is transferred to Cuneo does he have the opportunity to make over 400 drawings, including portraits of prisoners and mythological works. Thanks to his father, he was granted royal grace in 1938, remaining under special surveillance and therefore unable to attend public places or exhibit. Until 1941 when he set up a personal exhibition in the Bottega di Current, born in Milan during the period of her imprisonment.
Meet many artists, including Picasso. Moves to Spain, where what Dino Buzzati defines his second youth begins. Bullfighting is born and he knows the acrylic technique that allows him to create more vivid and luminous colors, like those typical of Mallorca, which he experienced as a new Sardinia. Back in Italy, he created scenes and costumes for the reopening of the Teatro Regio in Turin and a room was dedicated to him in the Vatican Modern Art Gallery.
In 1981 he moved to Milan in via Brera. He is recognized as one of "The men who made Milan great" and creates the watercolors of the Betrothed, exhibits at the Palazzo dei Diamanti in Ferrara, Castel Sant'Angelo, at the Royal Palace of Milan, in Seville, Germany, Madrid, Canada, Munich. Three of his Divine Comedy plates are purchased from the Pushkin Museum in Moscow.
He organizes traveling exhibitions in South America and Sweden.
He was appointed Knight of the Grand Cross by the President of the Republic (1995). With the donation to Lugano of 362 works from '27 to '66, the Aligi Sassu Foundation which organizes in 1999 an exhibition dedicated to futurism, in 2000 to primitivism, in 2001 to red men, in 2003 to Sassu's realism. For his 87th birthday an anthology is inaugurated in Palazzo Strozzi in Florence, he dies the following year.
The Friends of Art Cultural Association of Aligi Sassu was born which, among the various initiatives, organized in 2001 the first anthology on the sculpture of the Maestro, in 2003 the exhibition “Picasso Fontana, Sassu. Ceramic art from Albissola to Vallauris "and in 2005" The green upper room. Cassinari, Migneco, Morlotti, Sassu and Treccani in Brianza ".
In 2005 President Ciampi awarded the Maestro with the Gold Medal for school, culture and art.