Born in Rome, Claudio Del Sole (1926 - 2005) was an artist and amateur astronomer whose work has direct points of contact with a number of the most significant tendencies in post-war Italian art.
Attuned both to the Informel aesthetics of Alberto Burri, and the ‘sculptural’ concerns of Spatialists such as Paolo Scheggi, his paintings and reliefs capture the excitement generated by the dawn of the space age. In 1959 he co-founded the ‘Astralist’ movement with the aim of promoting “a new art, conscious of the cosmic dimension opening up before humanity”. Similar ambitions were shared by a number of Del Sole’s contemporaries. That same year the Nuclear artists, led by Enrico Baj, published their manifesto of ‘Interplanetary Art’, and Lucio Fontana created the first of his slashed canvases, through which one seems to glimpse the infinity of space. The timing was not coincidental – 1959 was also the year that the first images of the earth were taken from orbit, as well as the earliest photographs of the dark side of the moon.
"We conceive the artwork – be it painting, sculpture, architecture or city planning – in relation to the current aspirations of the new cosmic energy."
Del Sole saw no contradiction between his predilection for abstraction and his observation of natural phenomena, finding inspiration in the swirling patterns of galaxies and nebulae. Nor did he recognise any distinctions between art and life, asserting: “The artist is not enclosed in a restricted or exclusive world of his own. He is like an antenna, sensitive to all that which happens around him. Therefore, he is attentive to social changes and the progress of science; that is, to the unfolding story of mankind.” Such convictions place his work squarely in the Futurist tradition represented by his friend Sante Monachesi and his idol, Enrico Prampolini, whose ‘cosmic aeropaintings’ of the 1930s anticipated a number of the ideas explored by Del Sole’s generation.
"We assert that there is grace and beauty in the luminous force of the immutable essence, in the renewal of form, in the invention of the new image.
We feel that we are capable of realizing the aspirations of modern humanity."
Text by Chris Adams