home page previous page search back forward

top of page THE "NUOVISSIMI"

The Big CafÚ

After the show at the Galleria Milano, Sassu came into contact with Persico, who had arrived from Turin in 1929, a meeting which further stimulated his already lively interest in the sacred. A similar influence on him was Giuseppe Gorgerino, who worked on the cultural section of the newspaper Ambrosiano, one of the "locations" par excellence of the Milanese intellectual fringe.

His relationship with Persico was intense above all until 1933-34, when the Neapolitan critic began to concentrate primarily on architecture and abstract art. Persico’s critical line can be read in the exhibition at the beginning of 1932 at the Galleria del Milione, where along with Sassu, Birolli, Luigi Grosso, and Manz¨, Gianni Cortese and Tomea also showed. The group, characterized by a shared inclination for the archaic, was called the "Nuovissimi."

Sassu was progressively developing a realist painting style - with drawings and paintings of subjects from contemporary urban life: figures in cafÚs or on the street - along with a new history painting, profoundly influenced by his direct acquaintance in Paris with the art of Delacroix.

top of page HORSES AND BATTLES

The Wrath
of Achilles

His French experience, in 1934, when he became familiar with the great history paintings in the Louvre, but also the mature Renoir, contributed to a modification of his idiom in the direction both of a more studied and balanced distribution of the parts, and, above all, of a sort of solidification of color as a foundation for the construction of the image.

From his battle paintings and precisely in these years derives, with the elimination of the human figure, the motif of the horse in nature that has become the most widely recognized sign of Sassu’s painting. Sassu’s change of language after his Parisian experience can be grasped also in the various versions of paintings of nymphs and in all the important paintings of the late 1930s, in both the historical-mythological and "realist" veins.

top of page ANTI-FASCISM

Spain 1937

In the sharing of specific interests among Sassu, Manz¨, Grosso, and Birolli, we can find an early core of what a few years later, between 1938 and 1943, would become the Corrente movement.

Around 1933 the group had been joined by the students of Aldo Carpi just out of the Brera: Arnaldo Badodi, Giuseppe Migneco, Italo Valenti; and also Tomea was closely attached to Sassu. With regard to political involvement, a turning point was his acquaintanceship in 1934 with the art critic Raffaele De Grada, who brought him into contact with the anti-Fascist enivironment, or at least one strongly critical of artistic officialdom, which would constitute the terrain on which the Corrente would develop.

In 1935 the Gruppo Rosso - in which Sassu participated along with De Grada, Grosso, Alberto Malagugini, Carlo Calatroni, and Vittorio Della Porta - was founded; other artists in it included Badodi, Nino Franchina, Manz¨, Migneco, Gabriele Mucchi, Gastone Panciera, and Valenti.

Clandestine opposition to the Fascist regime was beginning to develop alongside the intellectual fringe, stimulated also by experiences and contacts during various sojourns in Paris, where Sassu received direct information on developments of the situation in Spain.