Agostino Bonalumi was at the forefront of the exceptional wave of Italian artists who followed in the footsteps of Lucio Fontana in the late 1950s and 1960s. Inspired by Fontana's spatial experiments with the canvas, Bonalumi had begun working with Enrico Castellani and Piero Manzoni as early as 1958. By the mid-1960s, Bonalumi's reputation was reaching new heights both internationally and at home, with strong links to Germany's Zero artists and critics in Italy already beginning to recognise his importance; in 1966, the artist was invited to take part at the Venice Biennale for the first time. Bonalumi's signature works are called Estroflessioni, in which monochrome canvases were stretched and deformed from behind to create abstract forms. Pushing the picture plane into three dimensions, Bonalumi's paintings became sculptures, or, what the critic Gillo Dorfles called pitture-oggetti (painting-objects). Alongside Fontana with his knife, Burri with his blowtorch, and Castellani, who hammered nails into the reverse of his pictorial surfaces, Bonalumi was part of a fundamental redefinition of painting: the pictorial plane had become what American art historian Harold Rosenberg called "an arena in which to act."
Text courtesy Robilant+Voena.