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Bueno Antonio

Bueno Antonio

(Berlin 1918 - Fiesole (Florence) 1984)

In evidence
  • Among the great Italian masters of the 20th Century
  • His works have been shown in pretigious public institutions, in Italy and aboad
  • Included in major Biennals (Venice, Milan)
  • Included in major Quadriennals (Rome, Turin)
  • Included in major museums collections
  • International visibility
  • His works are in public and private collections, in Italy and abroad
  • Reviewed by authoritative critics, art historians, poets and writers

«During several decades of his industrious activity, Antonio Bueno – talented Master and, sometimes, delightful eccentric, among the most important of the 20th Century – showed how wide the expressive horizons he was comfortable to try have been – always, we could say, successfully (posthumous)» (Giovanni Faccenda) 

Antonio Bueno was born on the 21st. of July , son of a writer and journalist, Javier Bueno, then posted to Berlin as war correspondent to the Madrid daily "ABC", and of Hannah Rosjanska. He spent his infancy in Spain but in 1925 the family moved to Geneva where he began to develop intellectually and culturally. After attending the lyceum, Antonio enrolled in the Academy of Fine Arts. In 1938 he made his debut in Paris exhibiting at the Salon des Jeunes. In January 1940, with his brother Xavier and their mother, he moved to Florence, where he was destined to spend the rest of his life. In 1942, togeter with his brother Xavier, he held its first exhibitions in Milan (Manzoni and Ranzini galleries) and in Florence (Botti gallery). In 1946 along with Xavier, Pietro Annigoni and Gregorio Sciltian, he fouunded the group "I Pittori Moderni della Realtà" (Modern Painters of the Reality); the group wound up in 1949. He made close ties with Giorgio de Chirico, Edoardo Sanguineti e Albert Camus. Giorgio de Chirico will show his unreserved appreciation of Antonio’s work, so much that he quoted him in the 1946 Roman edition of his “Memorie” (Memoirs) as one of the ten "most talented" painters he had ever come across.

From 1950 he worked for the abstract art magazine "Numero", becoming editorial secretary. His collaboration with Fiamma Vigo, founder and inspirer of the magazine, as well as with many other exponents of Florentine abstractism, continued until 1955. Bueno passed from the most precise figurative to the abstract without going through any intermediate stages. He hoped to offset the excesses of the preceding "Realist" period and thus succeed in undertaking reconciliation with the various cultural authorities which up to then had hampered his work. The artistic movement that grew up around the "Numero" magazine was an extravagance for the Florence of the Fifties (and perhaps not only for Florence); the magazine, published in several languages and distributed abroad, played a very important role, helping to make the work of painters such as Gianni Bertini, Arnaldo Pomodoro, Emilio Vedova and Giuseppe Capograossi known.

The Fifties were the season of Bueno's "pipes". The human figure was replaced by objects with a neo-metaphysical significance: clay pipes, broken egg-shells, paint-brushes and pencils. In these paintings he sought to create, to find an interesting compromise between abstract and figurative art. These were the kind of paintings the artist presented to the public at Turin's "La Bussola" gallery in 1953 and then at the 1956 edition of the Venice Biennale. The neo-metaphysical period and came to an end in 1959, despite the huge success obtained in Italy, but also abroad during his personal exhibition at the Manhattan "Sagittarius Gallery".

The most momentous innovation, after the "pipe" period, was undoubtedly his rediscovery of the human figure, which once more entered the foreground of Antonio Bueno's painting. Between 1959 and 1962, the artist devoted himself almost exclusively to monochromatic compositions; this kind of research culminated in an exhibition in collaboration with Piero Manzoni and Paolo Scheggi, which he always said was "the first monochromatic exhibition ever presented in Italy" (1962). Beyond his occasional collaborations with Scheggi and Manzoni, during this phase, Bueno also got to know and work with other artists of that generation, who were working in Florence. From 1959, a group, which included Silvio Loffredo, Vinicio Berti, Gualtiero Nativi, Alberto Moretti and Leonardo Ricci, came into being: "Nuova Figurazione" [New Figuration]. The intention of Bueno and his colleagues was to form, rather than a definite and homogeneous school, a kind of front, an "alliance" of the more advanced tendencies present in the Tuscan capital of the time, with the purpose of reacting against academism which, in various forms, dominated the city, unopposed. Shortly afterwards a "back-up" gallery in Florence, "Quadrante", was made available, with Antonio Bueno actually acting as director. The "Quadrante", during its three intense years of activity, presented exhibitions of the highest quality, involving some of the avant-garde's most illustrious names and the critical expertise of Argan and other illustrious scholars; of particular note was the international exhibition of the "Nuova Figurazione" organised by Bueno in 1962, under the patronage of the Florence Municipality, on premises at Palazzo Strozzi.

In 1963 he was one of the chief advocates of a new rassemblement of artists, the "Gruppo '70", devoted to multimedial and inter-disciplinary research. The group aimed at broader inter-artistic collaboration, regardless of disciplinary boundaries, and taking an interest in sociology, the theory of communication and "visual poetry". In 1968, he was present (with monochromatic reliefs) at Venice's thirty-fourth Biennale and took part in the "Sixth Annual New York Avant Garde Festival". Nevertheless, around the end of the nineteen-sixties, Antonio Bueno underwent a new stylistic change, which marked a new radical turning point in his career. In the end of 1968 he announced his abandonment of Gruppo '70 and of avant-gardism, defining himself a "neo-rearguardist". Like he wrote: “Once, to belong to the avant-garde meant facing discomfort, risks. The artist, the poor and misunderstood hero, travelled alone in a vast no-man's land extending beyond the well-groomed gardens of official art. Stuff of other times. With progress, things are no longer so. Since, that is, everyone has realised that the avant-garde is, when all is said and done, the best of investments, the multitude of the innovators has swollen so as to include practically all artists… As to me the fact that there are so many of us upsets me. I have by now realised that the massive shift of artists towards the more advanced positions has changed the rearguard into an immense desert: paradoxically, no-man's land is now to be found where the majority of the troops were once camped. For the lovers of solitude this is a safe place”. From that moment on Bueno returned definitively to figurative art, he had matured the awareness that in an era where the ungraceful had become the new academic canon, grace might now represent the innovative element.

When Antonio Bueno's painting underwent this change of stylistic direction, another important fact occurred. His price quotations (partially due to Italy's "economic boom") began to rise, his works began to be placed more readily on the market. Until about 1970, Bueno had sold paintings in Italy and abroad, but not in Florence; now, however, even the Florentines began, finally, to discover him. Success came after a long and difficult journey, Bueno did not build up his success within the four walls of his home, but imported it into Florence having first patiently cultivated it elsewhere, upon a national and international scale.

In 1973, with a  considerable success, he held his second personal exhibition in New York. In 1978, during a personal exhibition in Florence, Antonio Bueno presented an organic collection of his d'après for the first time. These works, re-elaborations , at times respectful, at times irreverent, of famous painters of the past, took up an increasing part of his time during the last years, to such a degree as to form the most substantial and representative nucleus of his latter-day production.

Antonio Bueno ended his career on a crescendo, achieving greatest consensus as his life drew to a close; one may say that, in actual fact, he had not enough time to enjoy the success and the honours that he began to reap on all sides. At only sixty-four, death overtook him at his peak, when he was considered one of the greatest Italian masters. Before his death, however, he managed to enjoy at least two gratifying achievements. The anthological exhibition devoted to him in Florence's Palazzo Strozzi in 1981, real symbol of reconciliation between Bueno and his city, and the 1984 Venice Biennale, his definitive consecration, barely a few months before his death. Invited by Giorgio Di Genova, he presented a series of masterpieces which represented the zenith of all his mature production.

Interest in Antonio Bueno's art did not come to an end with his death, on the contrary, it has continued to grow.

(an extract from artist's official website:

  • Mila

    Mila, 1971

    cm 40x30, Oil on hardboard

  • La donna Vitruviana

    La donna Vitruviana, 1972

    cm 40x40, Original pencil drawing and red pen