Dadamaino (1930 - 2004, Milan) was a self-taught painter, a protagonist of the post-war Milanese avant-garde and was active in major European art circles, where she was frequently the only woman. As a founding figure of Azimut/h – the gallery and publication created by Piero Manzoni, Enrico Castellani and Agostino Bonalumi  — Dadamaino collaborated with groups at the forefront of Kinetic Art, Op, Cybernetics and Spatialism including the Italian Gruppo Punto and Gruppo N, the Parisian GRAV, the German Zero and the Dutch Nul Group. She also coordinated the operations of the Zagreb-born NTrc (New Tendencies continuous research group) among a multitude of other initiatives. Between 1968 and 1971 she engaged in militant political activism with independent anarchist groups in Milan, which drove her creativity and her interest in formulating a new aesthetic that would express the cultural and political climate of her time.

Dadamaino’s work presents a unique visual rhetoric that could simultaneously transmit personal and political messages. Her Volumes series (1958-1960), which consists of monochromatic canvases punctured by elliptic holes, challenges the fixity of the canvas. In their utter simplicity, these works propel the viewer on a journey into the possibilities of perspectives, shadows and voids.  

In the 1970s Dadamaino’s work took on a different direction as she developed a set of invented signs. The Facts of Life (1976-1980) offers the opportunity to enter something akin to the intimate space of Dadamaino’s mind. The immersive environment is comprised by what she called her Alphabet of the Mind, the sum of sixteen imagined letters, each reproduced endlessly on hundreds of canvases and paper rectangles. The Facts of Life was installed in a solo room at the Venice Biennale in 1980. Three years later a large retrospective of her work was organized by the Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea (PAC) in Milan, and in 1990 she participated again in the Venice Biennale. A full retrospective of her work was mounted in 2000 by the Bochum Museum in Bochum, Germany.


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